As athletes from around the world compete in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast student Austin Sperry reflects on his participation at the summer Olympics held in Beijing, China.
Sperry, a sophomore majoring in business and administration, competed on the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team in 2008. One year following his run at the summer Olympic Games, Sperry enrolled at Southern Miss Gulf Coast to achieve his goal of earning a college degree.
Born in Oakland, Calif., Sperry began sailing in the San Francisco Bay at a young age. Although he has sailed in many competitions, he most favors winning the Star Masters competition with his father in 2002. The experience Sperry gained over the years all aided his drive to represent the U.S. in the 2008 Olympic Games.
Sperry recalls his fondest Olympic memory as walking into the stadium among fellow athletes like basketball player Kobe Bryant and swimmer Michael Phelps. “I walked in the opening ceremony knowing that I sacrificed everything for one goal and I made it with no regrets,” he said.
One difference Sperry notes between being a spectator and an athlete is seeing all of the events. He said he looks forward to watching the winter games on television since he was unable to see many of the events while he competed in Beijing.
Sperry’s advice to the Winter Olympic athletes: Enjoy the experience because you never know if you will ever have the opportunity again. “Embrace the Olympic movement by going out there and getting the job done,” he said. “Stay focused because there are lots of distractions at the games. If you stay focused, everything else will sort itself out.”
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games will be held in London and Sperry is already training for competition. After earning his degree from Southern Miss Gulf Coast, Sperry plans to work on Wall Street as a derivative trader.
“School gives you the tools and foundation to be successful,” said Sperry. “Southern Miss will give me a better understanding of the markets and help me become a more all-around person.”
Austin Sperry, a sophomore majoring in business and administration at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, competed on the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team in 2008. With competition underway in the 2012 winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, Sperry reflects on his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and hopes this year’s athletes cherish their experience. (Photo by Rod McLean)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu/gulfcoast .