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134: Mike Ramos: Former Olympic Decathlete who went through addiction to overcome and find his way running a pancake house in Montana…

Mike Ramos

Mike Ramos was able to transcend the sport of track and field in a major way that very few ambitious athletes ever get to do…playing for his country of the United States of America in the world-renowned global Olympics competition. Mike discusses his early achievements: “In high school I was a three-sport athlete. My first love was football and it just kind of turned out that I was just really good at track. So that was pretty much my avenue. I did five events in high school and did well there. State champion in pretty much everything I did. It was kind of a natural progression for me to get into the Decathlon.” 

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Mike Ramos, Retired Olympic Decathlete who competed on the USA team. How did Mike move from high school sports to NCAA-level college track? “People from the North West go to this camp and it was headed by a guy named Dr. Peterson, who was out of Seattle and he had a place in Montana and he thought it would be a great idea to have this track camp in Seeley Lake. Anyway, long story short, Ken Shannon is at the same camp I’m at. I’m headed to UCLA and he goes, ‘No, no, no, no. You are coming to the UW.’ So I just really hit it off with Ken, broke off my engagement with UCLA, ended up at the UW with Ken Shannon, and the rest is history.”

What You Will Learn:

How did it get to the point that Mike Ramos saw that he could have a path to the Olympics? “There are not that many scholarships in track and field. So, I come in to the University of Washington on a half-ride. Ken Shannon tells me before the national meet that I have to place in the top 5 at Nationals to get a full-ride. So, he wasn’t expecting it. I think I was the only one that was expecting it. As a freshman, I ended up getting 3rd at the NCAAs, which was a big deal and really kind of catapulted me forward. Physically, I still had a long way to go. But for me that was a really big mental thing for me, knowing that I could compete with anybody at any school as a freshman.” 

Mike Ramos shares his impressive achievements from not only the University of Washington, but also during the Olympics: “As a freshman, I ended up 3rd in the NCAAs. Next year I was 2nd in the NCAAs. Won the NCAAs my third year and I set the NCAA record, which stood for 14 years. My senior year was Olympic year, so, I took the NCAAs off so I didn’t actually go. I was first alternate in 1984. I was first in the US in 1985, 1986, and 1987 in the Decathlon. In 1988 I was ranked going first. I was ranked first going into that meet. Also, in 1987 I was ranked 5th in the world.”

What was the turning point that brought Mike Ramos’ Olympic career to an end?  “My story as far as what happened to me was in 1988 the trials were in Indianapolis. Everything was going great. I was leading the trials. It ended up raining in Indy and we moved the high-jump indoors and I struggled with the high-jump.

How was Mike Ramos’ life affected by his exit from his Olympic year? “I’m telling you, through disappointment, through heartache, there’s growth, and I didn’t realise the growth for many, many, many years. I didn’t realise why that happened. But I’m a believer in the universe hands you things and you deal with them and you grow from them and that is exactly what I did.” 

What led to Mike Ramos’ celebration of his one year of sobriety and not gambling, that he calls the best year of his life? “I had a lot of depression with the drinking. I was questioning everything. I would have a hangover and I would be questioning everything about my life. Was I a good father? All these things that I shouldn’t have been questioning. I went on a fishing trip and I ended up drinking too much, gambling that night and I was driving home the next day and I was hungover and I was depressed and I just looked in the mirror and I said, ‘Never again. I’m never going to feel like this again.’”  

Being Transparent About Pain

How has sharing pain with an online post been a positive uplifting experience in Mike’s life? “It’s an awesome place to be where you can just lay your stuff out there and be ok with it. The rewards you get from that are absolutely incredible. They are incredible. When I made that post, I get Mark Pattison to call me 30 years later and say, ‘What’s up?’ You start to connect with people on a different level.” 

Paul’s Pancake Parlor

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, Mike Ramos also discusses owning Paul’s Pancake Parlor in Montana, offering 17 different types of pancakes, as well as all three meals of the day that are homemade. “It’s a little mom and pop. It’s 120 seats. It’s been there since 1963. This guy named Paul Gjording started it. My mom was his right-hand woman I guess, starting in ‘63. She ran the place for him I would until 1980 or so. Then he retired, sold it to her. She had it for 19 years. Then in 1998 she sold it to me. So this is my 21st, almost 22nd year doing it.” 

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