With the summer Olympics right around the corner, it’s natural to imagine what it would be like to be an accomplished athlete. This is something many children dream about but few ever actually achieve. Most of the time, these dreams fall by the wayside to make room for more realistic goals, like building a career or gaining a quality education. However, it requires more than just optimal health and fitness to reach the elite levels required to compete in the Olympics.
Competing at the high level that’s required of Olympic athletes takes a lot of determination. The athlete must be fully committed to his sport of choice in order to maintain the necessary skills over the years. Olympic athleticism is not something that can be achieved easily and often requires sacrifices in other areas of life, like family, vacations, and hobbies. However, if you’re truly passionate about a sport, it will be much easier to make these sacrifices to pursue your dream. To build up determination, try a short meditation before you begin your workout to get yourself focused on the goals you wish to achieve.
“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.”
–Mark Spitz, USA gold medalist in swimming
Without a competitive spirit, no athlete would have the drive to constantly get better and better every day in an effort to someday be the best in the world. The essence of the Olympics is competition, so this is a crucial quality in Olympic hopefuls. Of course, there’s always a place for people who play sports simply for love of the game, but not in the Olympics. Obviously, those who achieve that level of success in athletics love what they do, but they must love the thrill of competition as well. Feed your competitive spirit by working out with a friend to see who can do the most reps or run the fastest.
“You’ve got to look for tough competition. You’ve got to want to beat the best.”
–Grete Waitz, Norwegian marathon runner
Becoming an elite athlete at the level of those in the Olympics requires decades of practice. We’re not talking about casual practice. Attaining Olympic-level skills requires hours of practice virtually every day and working with trainers and coaches on a variety of related exercises to enhance skills within the sport. These grueling workouts are meant to push you to your limits each and every day so you’re constantly improving. While it’s not necessary to work out quite that much in your everyday life, try to stick to a regular schedule for exercise. Your constant efforts will keep your skills sharp and your body in top form.
“You have to train you mind like you train your body.”
-Bruce Jenner, USA medalist in the decathlon
While natural ability is not necessarily a requirement, it most certainly helps when striving to attain the elite levels of health and fitness required to compete at the Olympic level. Those who are naturally gifted in their chosen sport will have an easier time discovering that talent at an early age, giving them several more years of practice over someone who chose their sport later in life. When working out, tap into your own natural abilities, and try to mimic movements that you do in your daily life to give your body the strength it needs to tackle your routine activities.
“I didn’t set out to beat the world; I just set out to do my absolute best.”
–Al Oerter, gold medalist in the disc throw