The Olympics is way more than just a competition anyway. Whether you’re a sports obsessive or a fan for just the summer, we can agree that our athletes have served us a true lesson in determination, strength and perseverance.
It’s kind of awe-inspiring to watch people who’ve spent a large majority of their life training for an event that lasts just a few hours, minutes… or even seconds.
That takes mental strength, as much as physical power. Most of us might not be athletes – but here are the lessons we’ve learned from our sporting heroes.
Perseverance pays off
A Team GB favourite, we’ve been watching Tom Daley compete since he was just 14 years old in Beijing. Three Olympic Games later, after clinching bronze in front of a home crowd at London 2012, then failing to qualify for the finals in Rio, he finally achieved his goal at Tokyo, winning gold for Team GB. Daley is an example of true perseverance, never giving up on his dream, despite all the challenges he’s faced, including losing his dad to cancer. And he’sf done it all with a positive attitude, a smile on his face, and his knitting never far away.
Be true to yourself
It was 2013 when Tom Daley came out as gay, on his own terms, in his YouTube video, “Something I want to say.” Since then he’s got married to partner Dustin Lance Black and become a father himself. When Daley faced the press after winning gold in Tokyo, his statement was brilliant and simple: “I am incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion. I feel very empowered by that.” What a message to send to LGBTQ people everywhere.
It’s aways worth trying
Helen Glover is a two-time Olympic gold champion and mother-of-three. This Olympics, Glover narrowly missed out on a medal, coming fourth but she wasn’t at all in low spirits. She told the BBC that: “You can do anything you want to do. Trying and failing is no problem as long as you try.” After giving birth to twins in lockdown, it’s remarkable to see her compete. She’s not a winner this year, but she’s our example of why it’s important to always try.
Use your voice
Dina Asher-Smith has been one of the most recognisable faces of Team GB. And though all eyes are set on the 26-year-old sprinter, she isn’t shy to use her voice to speak out against injustices. She supported the relaxation of rules around athlete protests at the Tokyo Olympics, telling the BBC: “I see protesting and expressing yourself as a fundamental human right.” Oh, and while injury blighted her chances in the 100m and 200m, she came back in the 4 x 100m relay, and was part of a British record-setting, Bronze medal-winning team.
Look at things differently
Having won a gold and silver medal at previous Olympic Games, swimmer Adam Peaty knows the importance of a positive mindset. Optimism feels like a tall order after all that we’ve been through during the pandemic – and Peaty gets that. “Covid has taken a lot of fun out of things.” But with some perspective, it’s possible to shift your head.
“That’s why we are all here, because sport has an amazing power to inspire people,” he said after winning Team GB’s first gold of the games (and his first of three). Let Team GB’s triumphs be a catalyst for everyone at home, he added. “We’ve been through a tough time, there’s been a lot of complaining, a lot of excuses, a lot of negative things, but now we’ve got to switch our mindset.”
Never limit yourself
At the age of 16, Matthew Coward-Holley was told his rugby dreams were over after breaking his back twice. A decade later, he is now an Olympic bronze medalist. After being advised to stop playing rugby he turned to shooting. Something that was once a hobby became his gateway into sporting success. Our takeaway from this is to try different things, because you might surprise yourself.
Pick yourself up after a fall
Part of Team GB’s awe-inspiring BMX team, who picked up three medals in their debut Olympics, Charlotte Worthington came out fighting in her first of two rides in the freestyle final, attempting a 360 degree backflip, only to crash-land. Some might have played it safer for second place, but Worthington picked herself up and with a smile to camera that said she knew what she was capable of, attempted the exact same trick, and this time she landed it for the gold medal. “It was either go big or go home,” Worthington told the press. She went big.