Olympic athletes compete at the highest level, the very pinnacle of their respective sports, but you don’t need to be a Gold Medal winner to learn the lessons they have to teach us all about determination, hard work, belief and teamwork.
Many students find university much tougher than they expected. At school it’s easier to get by if you’re bright and can think on your feet, but at uni, even naturally talented students have to get into the habit of working hard. Here’s what world record holder Usain Bolt has to say on the subject: “I am lucky that I have a lot of natural talent, but my success is all down to hard work. I could run under 10sec now even if I didn’t really train, but to win medals it’s all about training on the track, working hard in the gym and improving my technique.”
Don’t dwell on a bad performance
If you do poorly on a test or score lower on an assessment than you expected, it’s easy to obsess over what went wrong and become distracted by it. Instead, focus on improving your performance the very next chance you get. Olympic heptathlete and Gold Medal winner Jessica Ennis-Hill reckons this is vital: “What sticks with me is keeping focused on each event, and if one goes bad, don’t respond negatively, just give the next discipline your all.”
University life is full of opportunities to try different things, meet new people and acquire new skills. Some students worry that it will all become too much and instead, shy away from these exciting new experiences. Katherine Grainger, who won Olympic Gold in rowing thinks differently: “The more you take on the better you get at not wasting time and doing things effectively. Working smarter, not necessarily harder.”
Stay calm, be logical
If you find that university work is getting you down and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, try and take a step back and look at the situation logically. If you respond too emotionally to what’s going on instead of looking at it in a calm, reasoned manner, you may find you’ll make the situation worse. Multiple Olympic Gold medal-winning cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins puts it like this: “It’s important to stay calm and logical, especially when you feel like things might not be going to plan. That way, you can react quickly. Emotions have to stay out of the race so that you can concentrate and react appropriately in a measured manner.”
Make your family proud
Many students find that they miss home and family much more than they thought they would. So instead of feeling homesick, remember how proud you can make your family by working hard and doing well. Olympic Gold Medal winner Mo Farah says that his daughter is a great motivator: “If I don’t win, I know she’ll give me a hard time. Even if it’s just a training run, I’ll get back in and the first thing she’ll say is, ”Did you win?“ You should see her face if I say no.”
All Olympic athletes agree that one of the keys to their success is looking after themselves – especially eating well and getting a good night’s sleep. Your body is a well-oiled machine that works best when you feed it healthy food and give it plenty of rest – so don’t burn the candle at both ends!