I was so honored to have the opportunity to sit down and interview Lex Gillette, Paralympic Track & Field World Champion a few weeks ago. He’s partnered with P&G Tide Pods and they gave me a chance to ask him about his lifelong accomplishments, the power of independence and what it takes for this athlete to continuously dream bigger.
1. What does it feel like when you compete?
When I compete, I feel free and excited because I know I am on my way to achieving my goals. Of course, when I step out on to the podium, and I know they’re raising the flag and the medal is placed around my neck, it takes me back to my childhood. I remember the ups and downs of losing my sight, and I think about all the people that helped me get to this point. I was lucky enough to follow their direction and reap the rewards.
2. How important has your mother been to you in your life? Tell me some ways in which you feel she’s truly impacted your stream.
Sports were important in my household, but education, and chores were definitely much more important. I knew I had to focus on my education in order to compete in sports.
My mom always encouraged me to do things on my own. She constantly reminded me that I wouldn’t always have people around to help me. She taught me things that she felt were important for me to be able to do on my own. By the time I was 13, I could do it all including cleaning up the kitchen, cooking, and even washing clothes.
Laundry was also important to my mom because she is big on appearance. Even though I can’t see, she always wants me to look my best. Laundry has always been important in my household, and I can remember my mom allowing me to pour the Tide in the washing machine before I lost my sight.
3. What has Tide Pods done for you and your family in terms of independence and confidence?
A couple of years ago, when I had come home for a break from training, my mom introduced me to Tide Pods. She showed me how they were small and easy to use. Since then, I haven’t had to worry about pouring liquid into the cap and putting it in the washing machine.
I credit my mom for teaching me that if there’s something out there that can make your life easier with consistent, great results, then you should use it. Since I am away from home training in San Diego, and going through training clothes, it’s great to have the ability to place the laundry pac into the washing machine and trust that my clothes are going to smell and look great.
I lost my sight at eight years old, but Tide has been my mom go-to product for my family’s clothes for over 20 years.
When I travel around the world, some places don’t have the same detergent that I’m familiar with. I take Tide Pods in my carry-on bag so I can have that same clean, and the scent I recognize, even overseas. Plus, I know I’m going to look as good as I do in the States.
4. What tips would you give to someone out there who is looking to start running?
There are so many events involved in the sport. I encourage new runners to try them out to see what interests them.
When you’re doing a particular event, find someone who can give you guidance. A lot of success is based on how much you like that particular event, and a part of it is having the right coach there to watch you. Find someone who believes in you, and recognizes your potential to excel.
I had the right coach there to teach me and paint that picture of success. It became something I believed in. I have this slogan “there’s no need for sight when you have a vision”- and that became my vision. When you have someone who sees potential in you before you see it in yourself – that’s the type of energy that allows you to go out there and succeed.
5. What’s next on your agenda? What do you hope to accomplish next year?
Right now, I’m on a break from training and I’m excited to go home to Raleigh, North Carolina to go to a Panthers game. They’re currently undefeated, and I can’t wait to cheer them on!
After that, training for Rio begins December 1st. The plan is to gain the same hunger and drive, and carry that over into the next year. By the time September comes around, I plan on being in an athletic state where I am physically and mentally unstoppable. I want to be up on that podium with the United States flag raised high and a medal around my neck.