US Paralympian and Olympian speak at Berkeley event

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U.S. Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones and Paralympic para-cyclist Sam Kavanagh spoke to a crowd of approximately 30 UC Berkeley students last week for a recruiting event.

Situated in the Great Hall at the Bancroft Hotel, Jones and Kavanagh spoke to students Thursday as part of Deloitte’s Team USA Road Show series of events. This is the fifth consecutive year that Deloitte has held these events with the United States Olympic Committee. Deloitte is a national corporation that offers professional services such as auditing and consulting.

Jones addressed the group first, sharing anecdotes about his Olympic journey. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he won a gold medal and helped broke a world record with his relay swimming team. Nonetheless, he said he was disappointed that he did not advance in his specialty event, the 50-meter freestyle.

Jones said his mother’s advice, to “set that next goal,” guided his Olympic career. After Beijing, his next goal was the 2012 London Olympics.

At the 2012 games, Jones won a gold medal in medley relay and two silvers. One of those silver medals was in his favorite event — the 50-meter freestyle.

“For you guys, it’s the same thing, now we might have these (gold medals), but the same process of getting there is the same process you guys do,” Jones said at the event. “The process of going after the goal, hitting that goal and setting a new one.”

Kavanagh spoke about how he came to win a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games.

Kavanagh said he always wanted to be a cyclist but chose to remain an engineer because he felt too underqualified to seek out professional cycling.

In 2005, he was on a skiing trip with friends when he got caught in an avalanche. According to Kavanagh, he waited for help in a tent for two days and survived by forcing himself to stay awake despite his injuries. In the tent, he said, he realized he had gone through life telling himself “I can’t,” and that had consequently kept him average. He told himself that, if he survived, things were going to be different.

Once rescued, he underwent nine surgeries, had his leg amputated and “decided to go all in” to achieving his cycling dreams, he said.

“You’re all competitive in your own light,” Kavanagh said at the event. “(Make) changing the world your trophy.”

Deloitte’s road show spans 10 college campuses throughout the country, including Duke, Georgetown and Baylor universities.

According to Brad Poole, an audit partner at Deloitte, the event was open to all students who were interested in the company.

“Cal is a strategic school … the message here was that the athletes bring the same skills we look for when recruiting for the company,” Poole said.

Contact Jamie Nguyen at [email protected].