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Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

First Four Decade Winter Olympian

Ruben Gonzalez has been competing internationally since 1986.

He competed in the 1988 Calgary, 1992 Albertville, 2002 Salt Lake City, and 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

Training to Make Olympic History

Ruben’s training for the 2026 Milan / Cortina Olympics where he hopes to become the Oldest Winter Olympian in history and the first to compete in 5 Winter Olympics in 5 different decades.

He’s sliding better and more consistently than ever.

His coach says it’s possible for him to do it.

Note – 

Ruben was 39 at the Salt Lake City Olympics and 47 at the Vancouver Olympics.

At the Olympic Village people always asked Ruben if he was a coach.

Now at 61, Ruben’s older than most of the luge coaches! 

They’re inspired by what he’s doing and frequently help him out.

Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

While training in Austria, a freak-accident happened…

 

 

An Accident that Never Should Have Happened

It Could Have Been Much Worse

Both Grayson and Ruben were extremely lucky.

Ruben could have lost a foot (it’s happened before) and Grayson could have been seriously injured if if he had hit Ruben’s sled.

When you watch the video at 1/2 speed, you can see how they both dodged a bullet.

Grayson pulls his legs up right before impact.

His sled hits Ruben’s sled (22 kilos / 50 lbs) and it flies off of Ruben’s hand narrowly missing Grayson.

Nothing hits Ruben either.

The impulse from his sled flying off his hands sweeps Ruben around just as Grayson’s sled slides under him.

It was a miracle nothing worse happened.

If it had, they may not have survived because there was not an ambulance or any medical personnel at the track.

Incredibly, the announcer did not announce a “hold on track” after this accident.

The track was cleared for the next sled…

Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

Dislocated Elbow Changes Everything

He dearly needs as many luge runs as possible in order to have a chance to qualify for 2026 Milan / Cortina.

Ruben ended up missing most of the 2023-2024 season.

 

 

Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.
Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

More Determined than Ever

Sometimes when something bad happens to you, it ends up being a blessing in disguise.
 
Getting hurt made Ruben more DETERMINED, more FOCUSED, hungrier, and much more DRIVEN than ever.
 
He became a man on a mission – to get well ASAP so that he would’t miss the whole season.
 
It made him work hard (sometimes too hard) to regain mobility so that he could even FIT in the sled.
 
The daily workouts and stretching became a habit. They’re the first thing he does in the morning (and again throughout the day).
 
Ruben believes that gaining this STRONGER mindset will offset the training time that he lost.
 
In the long run, his more focused and determined mindset will improve his chances of achieving “5 in 5.”
 

TAKEAWAYS 

1 – Look for a WIN no matter WHAT happens. Don’t wallow in your misery. Just focus on what you need to do.
 
2 – When like knocks you down, get back up as quickly as possible so you don’t lose your momentum.
 
3 – Protect your attitude. Throughout this whole process Ruben NEVER felt sorry for himself. He only felt anger at the track announcer’s incompetence.
 
4 – Harness your anger. Ruben harnessed his anger and turned it into DETERMINATION.
 
5 – Many times when you look back at something bad that happens to you, you just might discover that there was a bright and powerful silver lining.

Followed Coach’s Advice

Oct. 8 2023
Ruben followed coach’s advice to stay in Austria for a few days.
 
Coach told Ruben he needed time to go through the steps of the grieving process (grieving the potential loss of the Olympic Dream).
 

Ruben stuck around, spent time with the other athletes, and watched sleds go by while learning from the coaches.

Focusing on the future helped him to start feeling better.

 
That’s when he started harnessing his anger and turning it into determination.
Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

Gluhwein break with Veronica Ravenna (ARG) and Elsa Desmond (IRL).

From Cast to Brace

Nov. 16, 2023
Ruben’s arm needed to be immobilized for two weeks.
 
Back at home he was happy to be able to replace the bulky cast with a brace.
 
Even though the future was uncertain, his spirits were getting better.
 

MORAL

No matter what happens, protect your attitude.
Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

Start of Rehab

Dec. 1, 2023
Ruben started doing very light exercises to try to regain mobility and build strength.
 
To stay positive, Ruben would say, “Trust the process,” with every rep.
 
It was scary because even light exercises hurt (Ruben had to constantly alternate between exercise and massaging his arm).
Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

Pushing the Limits

Dec. 1, 2023
Every day he was able to extend and contract his arm a little bit more.
 
But for almost two months, when Ruben woke up in the morning, his arm would be stuck at 90 degrees.
 
It was if he hadn’t done ANY rehab. That was scary and frustrating for him.
 
Every morning he’d wrap it up in warm compresses then slowly do the exercises to get to the point he’d been the day before, and hopefully more.
 
Many days he would do the work but see no improvement.
 
He’d think, “Is this it? Am I going to have a bent cripple arm?” The thought of that made him work it even HARDER.
 
A couple of times he had sharp pain afterwards which made him think, “Great, now I’ve torn the ligaments worse.”
 
When that happened, he would go light the next day and gradually increase the intensity until he’d hurt it again.
Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

Rebuilding Arm

Dec. 9, 2023
When the doctor removed the cast 2 weeks after the accident, Ruben was amazed at how much his arm had atrophied.
In only two weeks.
 
That drove him to build it up again.
 
Every day after warming up the muscles with curls and extensions, he would artificially extend his arm with the help of rubber bands.
 
Every day a little bit more.
 
But the triceps muscle was still not strong enough to extend the arm on its own.
 
Even 3 months after the accident, His triceps couldn’t extend the arm all the way on it’s own.
 
But he keep doing the work and every day it got a little bit better.
Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

No Surgery Needed!

Dec. 17, 2023
After two MRIs the doctor determined that Ruben didn’t need surgery.
 
There’s some things Ruben’s arm won’t do anymore without wearing a brace, but nothing that will affect his sliding.
 
You can see a big difference in size between Ruben’s arms in the picture.
 
But he kept working them and they slowly, they both started to grow.
 

MORAL

 
Every day in every way you can get better and better. Wiser and wiser. Stronger and stronger.
Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

Finally Fit in Sled

Dec. 29, 2023
Ruben could FINALLY fit in his sled. He could even paddle very gingerly.
 
What an exciting day that was!
 
Wheel training a couple of miles from Ruben’s home on his 1988 Calgary Olympic sled with wheels.
 
Baby steps, but baby steps in the right direction.

Top of the Track

Jan. 19, 2024

Ruben started training again in Park City, Utah.

After a couple of weeks training from Ladies Start (about 75 MPH),  he moved up to the top of the track.

It would be Ruben’s first time from the top in 14 years – 84+ MPH.

On the first run he crashed, but he knew exactly what he did wrong.

 
Ruben went back up and took his next two runs – you HAVE to get back on the horse right after he bucks you off. If you don’t, you might as well go home cause you’ve lost your nerve.
 

Next two runs were fine.

Ruben had forgotten how much faster it was from the top. But he knew that his brain would adjust to the speed. You have to train your brain.

 
Everything’s hard in the beginning, but as long as you don’t quit, it gets easier and easier.

Determined

At 61 years of age, Ruben’s fitter than ever, stronger mentally and more determined than ever before.
 

He’s sliding better and more consistently than ever, but he still needs to improve quite a bit.

ONLY 25 men will get to compete at the 2026 Milan Olympics – 40 to 50 men used to get to go in the old days.

Next season (2024-2025) Ruben will train at several tracks to keep working on getting to the next level.

Finally, in October through December 2025 there will be seven races that will determine who goes to the Olympics.

Coach says Ruben has a shot as long as he continues to improve.

Olympic keynote speaker Ruben Gonzalez. Inspirational Olympic story. Motivation, leadership, sales speaker.

Will there be a movie about Ruben?

Find out here.

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