Eagle Scout. Arrowman. Olympic gold medalist. Personable Today show guest.
Is there anything Ryan Held can’t do?
The 21-year-old, who is one of seven Eagle Scouts on the 2016 U.S. Olympic roster, won a gold medal Sunday night as a member of Team USA’s 4×100 freestyle relay team.
Held swam the third leg — zooming down and back in 47.73 seconds — on the team that included Caeleb Dressel, Nathan Adrian and greatest-swimmer-of-all-time Michael Phelps.
In the medal ceremony late Saturday night, Held wiped away tears as the moment overwhelmed him.
“I’ve heard the national anthem thousands of times before, but there was something different about this one,” Held told the Charlotte Observer. “I just couldn’t hold back the tears.”
On NBC’s Today show Monday morning, Held was the star during the medal ceremony. Watch that video here.
Diving into swimming and Scouting
Like most Olympians, Held trained for years for a shot at Olympic gold.
As I shared in my post about him last week, Held started swimming at age 8. But even as swimming soaked up more and more of his time, Held stayed in Scouting. There was time for both.
“My parents and my uncle — an Eagle Scout — really pushed me to stay in Scouting and reach for the rank of Eagle, and I’m so glad that they did,” Held told me by email last week.
Competitive swimming, a sport measured in hundredths of a second, can be stressful on a kid. Held saw Scouting as an essential way to blow off steam and learn new things.
“Scouting was just the perfect break because it taught me valuable skills but also provided a stress-free environment,” he said.
On Sunday night, in an environment that was the opposite of stress-free, Held helped the U.S. reclaim gold in the 4×100 relay.
Held, whom commentator Rowdy Gaines once called a “no-name,” has made quite a splash now.
“Anybody can make it,” Held said. “Everyone is just a kid from somewhere at one point in their life.”
Watch the race at this link and see the swimmers receive their medals below.
— Debra Morgan (@WRALDebra) August 8, 2016
So moving to see 1st time gold medalist swimmer Ryan Held, 21, overcome by emotion during national anthem tonight pic.twitter.com/EeaWQGkISs
— Samantha Power (@AmbPower44) August 8, 2016
— Order of the Arrow (@oabsa) August 8, 2016
Photo of Ryan via USA Swimming.