Twelve years ago this summer, former University of Cincinnati track star Mary Wineberg was in Beijing, China, bringing home the gold as a member of the U.S. Women’s 4 × 400 meter relay team at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
“It is wonderful to be able to look back and reminisce on that experience,” she says. “I will never forget standing on the podium and receiving my medal. Never would I have imagined that I would be standing there. It was a dream come true!”
Today, Wineberg, an elementary school teacher for Cincinnati Public Schools, gets to relive that experience with children around the world through Airbnb’s “Olympian & Paralympian Online Experiences” program. During each 60-minute “experience,” the Olympian reads from her new children’s book, I Didn’t Win, and talks to participants about their hopes and dreams and the power of perseverance. Her sessions, which are $20 per person, started last week and continue next month on August 1, 12, 15, and 29.
A partnership between Airbnb, the International Olympic Committee, and the International Paralympic Committee, the “Experiences” program features hundreds of Olympians hosting sessions on a variety of topics, including exercise, cooking, philanthropy, staying motivated, and even cocktails.
Wineberg says a teammate from the Beijing Olympics encouraged her to apply for a spot.
“It was definitely a surprise when I found out that I had been selected to be highlighted during the opening week,” she adds. “I was very excited to know that my children’s book would be seen all over the world.”
I Didn’t Win, which came out in May, follows the story of Jackson, a little boy who learns the importance of goal setting.
“I love being able to watch my students grow academically and socially and seeing them learn valuable life lessons,” Wineberg says. “My second book was an opportunity for me to help younger kids understand that you don’t always have to win. Giving your best and never giving up is what matters.”
She released her first book, Unwavering Perseverance: An Olympic Gold Medalist Finds Peace, in 2017. She says that book was harder to write because she was learning from scratch about what the writing process entailed, and the subject matter was much heavier for her. The memoir chronicled her life from a ward of the state and an adoptee to becoming an Olympic champion.
“I did not realize that I was still holding onto pain,” Wineberg says. “It is amazing just how therapeutic writing can be. I was able to come to terms with some things that had happened in my life. I forgave, and I acknowledged and realized my potential even more.”
With I Didn’t Win, the mother of two explains that she wanted to use the book as an opportunity to help more children and their families improve literacy rates while imparting wisdom about character building and overcoming obstacles.
“I wanted young readers to know about determination and what it means to set a goal,” she adds. “I also wanted to teach that losing doesn’t define you.”
For more information about Wineberg’s books and her motivational speaking business Secure Your Gold, visit her website at www.marywineberg.com.