Many know Mark Gorski as a savvy businessman in the biotech industry, but many may not know he also represented the United States at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, where he won the gold medal for track cycling in the men’s individual sprint. He later became a team manager for US Postal. Learn more how this Olympian is going for gold for St. Louis.
Q: How did you first become interested in track cycling? What was the pivotal moment or factor that helped you decided to train to become an Olympic athlete?
A: I grew up in Chicago and there is a velodrome (oval cycling track) in Northbrook, IL, near Chicago. I went to watch my first race when I was 13 years old and was hooked. I began racing on the track the following year. In terms of the motivation, to become an Olympian, it really began with watching the 1968 and 1972 Olympics on television. I knew I wanted to be in the Olympics, I just did not know what sport I would be competing in.
Q: What was the most challenging part of training for the Olympics and what was the most rewarding?
A: Training for any Olympic sport takes dedication, discipline, patience, a very strong work ethic, talent and the ability to toil in relative anonymity for many years. It was tremendously satisfying on a personal level to achieve success after working so hard after 11 years of training. After I won the gold medal in 1984 Summer Olympics, so many people in my life finally understood what I had been doing and why.
Q: How did the Olympics guide you into the business sector?
A: My Olympic experience per se did not guide me into business. I began working in my family’s grocery store in Chicago every weekend when I was seven years old. My family was always discussing business at all levels. I studied economics at the University of Michigan.After winning the gold medal, I signed with one of the top sports management agencies in the world at that time and participated in hundreds of presentations and had endorsement agreements with many companies. The transition into business was a natural for me and it is what I enjoy.
Q: Has being a part of a global event like the Olympics, assisted your work at the BioResearch & Development Growth (BRDG) Park at the Danforth Plant Science Center to attract and relocate international companies entering the U.S. business market?
A: Absolutely, I have traveled extensively outside the U.S. since I was about 10 years old. During my racing days, I competed across the globe for many years. This travel resulted in an understanding, appreciation and respect for other people and cultures. BRDG Park, in many ways, is a microcosm, of what is happening all over the world. If we want St. Louis to be successful as a region, we need to nurture and build relationships with international companies and their scientists more effectively than other areas that we are competing with.
Q:What would you recommend to business owners aspiring to be more like Olympic athletes rather than spectators?
A: Life is a participation sport, not a spectator sport. You have to be aggressive and go after the things you want.
Q: How did your involvement with Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service team strengthen your business skills?
A: The greatest takeaway for me was in initiating relationships and building cooperative marketing efforts between so many great companies; U.S. Postal Service, Visa, Yahoo, Nike, Coca-Cola and many others.
We thank Mark for sharing his golden story as the 2012 Summer Olympics continues to inspire and motivate many globally.