The Discus Thrower and his Dream Factory
Chapter 22. Now and Forever
This is the end of the book but not the end of anything else. Ann and I continue to study, travel, and enjoy our life. We continue selling our APAS system around the world. I spend countless hours on the phone helping customers understand how to implement and operate their newly acquired software. Our CES has undergone a revision and been readily received by new customers.
I could retire, I suppose, but sitting around watching television and failing to contribute or learn things does not appeal to me. I continue with my inventions since my life has always been about exploring opportunities. My technologies, unlike so many other technologies, have not become outdated. As long as there are muscles, bones, ligaments that need to be studied, whether for athletic purposes, health reasons, product testing, or other reasons, my technology can be applied.
It may seem odd that a man who grew up running in bare feet in a land of the ancient Middle East should end up in California able to provide shoes which he designed. I was a man who discovered a fascinating technique to study the body through biomechanical analyses and was able to build a career with it. Biomechanics allowed me to create endless products that helped people win awards and Olympic medals, become stronger, and some other things that created the ability for people to simply enjoy life more than they had previously. These successes came from creating real things that had once only been in my imagination.
What simulated this drive? I am sure much of it was to prove to my father that I was worthwhile. Most certainly it started that way but, as time passed, my imagination and goals became a pathway to help people. An inner knowledge, born out of my experiences at Hadassim, that if you try, work, struggle where necessary, you can be successful and achieve more than you had expected. Once I had an idea, I acted on it, such as creating a variable resistance exercise machine or going to see the president of Data General without an appointment to persuade him to provide free computers to America’s Olympic athletes at the Colorado Springs Training Center. Never did I imagine myself lying on my deathbed thinking, I wish I had done that.
As a child, I had my dreams: The Olympics. A Cadillac in America. A Ph.D. These I accomplished because I first envisioned them and was willing to work to achieve them. I must have had a dream when I took a plane and found myself in Wyoming which was a place that I had never known about nor had any idea where to find. I could not even have located Wyoming on a map before I arrived there.
I had a dream, after seeing what the East Germans were providing for their athletes, of starting an Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs. This dream led me to the Chairman of the Olympic Committee, Colonel Miller, and to Data General and other companies to make the Center a reality. I strove to make my dreams tangible and so they were.
I learned how to incorporate people into helping and how to select the proper people for the task at hand. Ann has been my love in business and in life. Jeremy Wise, Irving Dardik, Vic Braden, William Morrisroe, Victor Palmieri, Michael Greenisen, John Probe, Rudolf Buijs, Bob Wainwright, George Dales, John Walker and so many others have contributed to my personal and professional life.
But my work was not an odious job that had to be suffered and tolerated to earn a salary. My work was my passion. It was the most fun and exciting part of every day. My work was enjoyment and a challenging experience which consumed me every day.
My work efforts were in the arenas that held meaning for me. I loved being at the Olympics and I found work that returned me to the Olympics time after time. I loved athletics and I found work that allowed me to live with athletes and coaches. This love of athletes and movements focused my interests in the study of the mechanics of the body and the games. My interest and study of biomechanics grew from this passion. My “business” emerged from this interest.
The moment I saw Coto de Caza, I fell in love with the place and I imagined having a laboratory there. I worked to make that imagination become reality. Of course, there was some luck involved but there was also an opportunity. My talents were real and the people behind Coto de Caza recognized this so another one of my dreams materialized.
This book tells my story but it also tells a story of how to live a life that is full and rich and wild with imagination. How can someone live a life which is exciting, fascinating, and fulfilling? The answer is to work towards what you dream of wanting to do. You must want something with all your heart and mind and then work hard to make it happen. Never give up on yourself and never say “No” to your dream. Always remind yourself that I WILL do it, and I CAN do it. The famous Irish poet, Samuel Beckett, said:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
This sentiment was one that I lived without knowing that Mr. Beckett had expressed this sentiment. I first learned this quote when I saw it tattooed on the arm of the tennis player, Stan Wawrinka. Mr. Wawrinka was quoted in The Guardian newspaper as saying:
“It’s how I see life and tennis. The meaning of the quote doesn’t change no matter how well you do. There is always a disappointment, heartache. You are losing almost every tournament. You need to just accept it and be positive because you are going to lose and fail.”
Mr. Wawrinka’s struggle to succeed in his chosen profession was as compelling as mine has been. I had been told that I was not good enough for the Olympics, that a computerized exercise machine was too expensive, that I could not do something that I envisioned because it had never been done. These obstacles were never seen as barriers to me but rather as my next challenge. I always tried again, tried harder, never gave up.
I believe that life must be full and the joy is to live it to the fullest -- with learning, doing, beauty, risk, and with love. In this book, each chapter has shown how life came to meet me and how I responded to each challenge.
Throughout my life, I have had people to guide and help me. I did not do everything by myself. The teachers at Hadassim, the people of Wyoming, my wife, Ann, were all major contributors to my growth, successes, and confidence. Few people, if any, can become successful without dreams and encouragement.
A year ago, I almost died from renal failure. Ann encouraged me to seek a kidney transplant despite the difficulty of my age which, at that time, was 75. As was presented in a previous chapter, receiving a kidney transplant at my age had initially seemed almost impossible to achieve. But to be able to compete in the Olympic had also seemed to be an impossibility. Yet because I worked hard and never stopped trying, I was able to compete twice, in 1960 and 1964. When my kidneys failed, Ann explained that I was training for the most important “Olympics” of my life which was to get a kidney. She told me, “we will get your ‘Olympic Gold Medal’.” As you read in the previous chapter about the “Kidney Connection,” I did get my “Gold Medal.” I have a transplanted kidney from an amazing donor, Dr. James Hackney, so now I have the most valuable “Gold Medal” of life.
Another extremely important aspect of our life is study and education. Ann and I are not only involved with our business. Learning is an essential component for each of us. We have never stopped studying. We have several avenues that we pursue to acquire knowledge: travel, on-line studies, and DVD courses.
We have participated in many trips with Stanford Travel Service, Smithsonian, and National Geographic. With the excellent guidance and instructors from Stanford University, we explored Vietnam and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, participated in two music courses in Italy, and traveled to Patagonia to see the farthest points of the Americas. We sailed from Copenhagen, Denmark to St. Petersburg, Russia along the “historical waterways of the Baltic” with guidance from the Smithsonian. On this trip, we met Lech Walesa, Polish Politician and leader of the labor union, as well as the former Premier of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.
We traveled to Peru and climbed to the top of Machu Picchu with National Geographic and from there we explored a section of the Amazon River region. We always select trips which incorporate learning with lectures as well as guided excursions. We are only interested in trips which focus on education.
Most of the on-line courses are scientific or math-based classes. Many universities and colleges provide videos of each lecture in a particular course. For example, I recently “took” a course on “mechanics.” The most amazing part of the course for me was that the professor cared more about the students actually mastering the subject matter than he did about the grades they would receive. He explained that this course was the basic knowledge that the students would need for the remainder of their college courses. Therefore, it was imperative that they master each topic presented. This sentiment reflects my own opinion about school and education. You must learn it for yourself and not for the grade. If you do not make the material “yours” in your head and part of your understanding, you are only cheating yourself. A bad grade might disappoint parents or the teacher, but the person who suffers the most is the student if they do not master the subject matter. Education benefits only the student. Grades benefit everyone else.
Another source of study for Ann and I are DVDs. There is a company, The Teaching Company, located in Chantilly, VA who offer DVD and downloadable classes in an enormous variety of topics. From this vast resource provided by The Great Courses, we have taken more than 50 “classes” and loved every one of them. The topics have ranged from history, science, math, art, music, and amazing people, such as Leonardo da Vinci. Ann and I have the classes on our cell phones so wherever we are - gym, car, or waiting somewhere - we study. Once Ann told me that she was jogging while listening to a lecture on supernovas. When the professor said to watch the supernova explode, she did and ran into a big bush. She explained that the bush was not injured by her crashing into it and, yes, the supernova explosion had been truly awesome.
In addition to these on-going studies, my latest project is to improve my photography skills. I have several books and DVDs to use to reacquaint myself with some of the basics of photography and I want to be more comfortable with each of my three Nikon cameras. Since each one of them is more sophisticated and robust in abilities, I want to learn each one of them thoroughly.
Currently, I am preparing for our trip to Wyoming to see and photograph the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Next year, July of 2018, we have signed for the “Circumnavigation of Iceland”. Because of our many classes in geology and how the Earth works, we are traveling to where two of the continental plates meet. We want to stand with one foot on each plate. Awesome!
These are only a few of the things that we study. This is what Ann and I have pursued for many years. We do not pretend to be experts in European history or the Middle Ages nor are we masters of geology, but we want to keep our brains stimulated every day. It is said that your body must be used or you lose the ability to use it. Brain research shows that this axiom is also true for our mental abilities. We try every day to “Use it so we won’t lose it.”
Travel has been a passion for both Ann and I. We have been all around the World and some places we have been to repeatedly. Ann can never get enough of the wildlife in South Africa and I am fascinated by Italy.
I have also attended many conferences and was a speaker at many of them. Again, rather than enumerate each of my presentations, I have provided links for anyone who is interested to see or follow these trips and/or lectures.
Future projects we are working on include the Virtual APAS where analysis of the Human Body from the Mechanical point of view will be easier to conduct and be automated. I hope to be able to use this new, exciting system at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo which will be 56 years after I was there to carry the flag and compete in the Olympic Games.
Education, Travel, Innovation, Exercise. These are the many interests which have stimulated our past. We are hopeful that we can continue to study and travel in the future. We hope to keep our brains and bodies busy as long as we live.
For our body, we added an amazing exercise device called the Endless Pool. We purchased one and now we can swim in our backyard and “run” on the treadmill located in the water on the bottom of the pool.
The name of this chapter is “now and forever” and this is where Ann and I are in our lives. I can hardly wait for tomorrow because I have another dream.
- Ariel was the FIRST COMPANY to create a biomechanical system for scientific, educational, and commercial applications. (1968)
- Invented and build the FIRST AIR SHOE (1971)
- Tested with Howard Head the FIRST LARGE-FACED TENNIS RACKET. (1974)
- Built one of the FIRST PERSONAL COMPUTERS to be utilized in analyzing sports performance. The project was funded by the Secretary of Finance, William Simon and the CIA director William Casey and Dr. Irvin Dardik. (1976)
- Introduced the FIRST ELECTRONIC DIGITIZER (sonic) for use with 16mm film tracings. (1970)
- The first to connect a force platform to a computer AND to write the software to control it. (1972)
- Invented and developed the FIRST VARIABLE RESISTANCE EXERCISE Equipment. (1972)
- Provided the first hardware-software controlled interface for other input signals, such as EMG integrated with the movement analysis system. (1972)
- Supplied to Kistler Force Plate producer the FIRST DIRECT INTERFACE to the computer and A/D converter on Data General Mini Computer. (1973)
- Suggested and established the FIRST UNITED STATES OLYMPIC TRAINING CENTER at Colorado Springs, CO. Gideon Ariel was appointed as the founding Chairman of Biomechanics. (1976)
- Established the first organized Olympic Training Analysis in the United States at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The APAS system is used at the Olympic Training Center. (1976)
- The FIRST to GRAB VIDEO IMAGES and store them on the hard disk for subsequent processing. (1980)
- Provided the FIRST COMPUTERIZED VIDEO DIGITIZING using the computer’s display monitor as the tracing medium. (1980)
- The first to invent the VARIABLE RESISTANCE EXERCISE EQUIPMENT. (1969)
- The first to invent the Computerized Exercise Machines. (1972)
- The first to connect the motion analysis system with the Ariel Computerized Exercise System (CES). (1972)
- The FIRST BIOMECHANICS COMPANY to conduct RESEARCH IN SPACE with NASA.
- The first Biomechanical Company to have a Web Site available on the Internet. (1991)
- Introduced the first ON-LINE digitizing system on the Internet. (NetDigi) (1993)
- Introduced the first AIR SHOE (Way before Nike) (1970)
- Introduced the first DOWNLOADED, full Biomechanical System from the Web to your own computer. (1997)
- Introduced the first Biomechanical System to capture DIGITAL VIDEO from the CAMCORDER CAMERAS directly to the hard disk and allow high speed digitizing.
- The first Biomechanical Company to introduce interface to Digital Video (DV) technology in streaming video directly from digital cameras to hard disk with real time 3D analysis at 240 Hz. (1999)
- Established the “Net Society of Biomechanics” - NSB to allow biomechanists and others to share data on line and exchange data in real time. (1999)
- Introduced the FIRST AFFORDABLE HIGH SPEED CAMERA at 240 Hz to be used with direct capturing to hard disk and up to one hour of continuous recording. (2000)
- First Virtual Biomechanical desk top World Wide, (2000)
- Full Biomechanical Analysis on Wireless Cellular Phone, August 2000.
- Swing Watch Inc. The first Wireless Biomechanics Company. So this is how sports and fantasy can combine to create real life.
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