USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert — “I don’t know yet. I’m still trying to recover,” explained Gilbert following her team’s stupendous come-from-way, way behind 4X400m women’s relay victory to shockingly win the NCAA Women’s T&F championship over Georgia by 1-point and Stanford by 2.
“It feels amazing. I’m so proud. “We’ve been training so hard ever since I got to USC. We had this goal. I knew that we had trained for this very moment. I didn’t know what time they were going to put on the board at first, but man was it good to see it. We talk about mental toughness all the time. We talk about how to finish.
“One major theme that I have been focusing on this year is that it doesn’t have to be perfect to still get it done. I did that because sometimes in this generation if it’s not going exactly the way they think it should be, we don’t give 100 percent. I’ve been telling them that life doesn’t have to be perfect.
“Things can go adversely, but you can still be successful. You can still get to your outcome if everything along the way isn’t perfect.”
Of course, Gilbert didn’t invent this theory of imperfect success. She just moved it into real life 2018 at Historic Hayward Field on the Oregon campus, from ages ago:
- Voltaire: “The best is the enemy of the good.”
- Confucius: “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”
- Shakespeare: “Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.”
Anyone who has seen Kendall Ellis’ otherworldly last 100-meter exhausted sprint as she relentlessly stalked down Purdue’s Jahneva Mitchell, witnessed an amazing example of a Trojan performer and team that absolutely refused to let “perfect be the enemy of the good.”
After stumbling backward and nearly dropping her baton exchange from Deanna Hill, an undaunted Ellis suddenly bolted into her final leg a full two seconds behind Mitchell. 400 meters later, she miraculously beat Mitchell’s final stride by .07 seconds to win a historic Trojan race for the ages.
Imperfection never looked so perfect.