Growing up with a deaf sister, I feel I understand the trials and tribulations that come with being born without fully functional hearing. Which is why when my sister shared this story with her social media circle, it hit home. The best stories in sports are seeing how people can overcome obstacles, beat the odds stacked against them and succeed despite the slimmest of chances.
Such is the case with speed skater and 2014 Winter Olympics hopeful Michael Hubbs.
Growing up in Texas, Hubbs was not only fighting against the odds by chasing the dream of being a deaf speed skater, but also putting stock in a dream that he probably didn’t share with many friends. Sports on the ice rink are not exactly popular in that area of the country—another thing I would know having been born and raised in Texas.
Unfortunately Hubbs had to take a 10-year hiatus, according to Fox News in Milwaukee. His father decided Hubbs needed to attend a school for the deaf, and Hubbs was forced to abandon the sport he competed in from ages 12 to 17.
“My dad made the decision for our family that I should be in a school for the deaf, and I told my dad, ‘But I want to train for the Olympics. This is where my heart is—my love, my passion. I don’t want to lose it.’ But he said no,” Hubbs said.
He picked the sport back up at 27 and has been preparing for the Olympic trials this December at the ripe age of 30. At an age when most speed skaters would be mulling retirement, Hubbs is just starting and hopes to compete for the 2018 and 2022 Olympics as well. Add yet another obstacle to overcome.
Hubbs has been training in Wisconsin with well-known and revered coaches at the Pettit Center, which is known for training Olympic quality speed skaters. With the help of a sign language interpreter and the coaches learning a bit of signing as well, Hubbs is doing well and expects to be a real contender for the 2014 Olympic team. He loves the idea that his story can help and inspire others.
“In my mind, when I think of this, it feels so good to me that I could inspire others to work hard and not give up, regardless of your age,” he said. “It doesn’t matter the life you lived or went through.”
While his story certainly is not finished, it’s got a damn good beginning.