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What We Can Learn From Olympians

With the 2018 Olympics underway, I have become fascinated with the athletes. They are all incredibly talented physically but what intrigues me most is their mindset. What are they thinking about before, during, and after competition? What are they doing that makes them successful? How do they pull off such incredible feats under the greatest pressure in any competition?

Being an athlete and talking to others, I know that we all feel pressure. We all get nervous when it comes down to the wire. But, what makes the Olympians the best athletes in the world, is what they do with those nerves and emotion. Yes, they all have various forms of the same intense training schedule. What good would the years of preparation be without the right mindset in competition? What makes these athletes the best is their ability to pull it off when all eyes are on them, when there are no more chances and the pressure is on.

USA Today Shaun White is one of the greatest snowboarders of all time. At only 31 years old he has already competed in 4 Olympic games. Before Pyeongchang he did an interview with where he talked about fighting his way back from a nasty fall which entailed a long recovery. After not winning a medal at the 2014 games, Shaun was even more eager and motivated to compete in 2018. So, how did he manage his nerves and expectations? He put it all into perspective. In my experience, this is easier said than done. Shaun somehow managed to control his mentality and approach throughout the competition which allowed him to compete uninhibited. In the USA Today interview he describes the process of finding himself again and remembered why he loved snowboarding in the first place. Shaun was able to find the positives through his adversity and come out on the other side stronger than ever.

Bradie Tennell is another Olympian that I think we can all learn from. She is a 20 year old figure skater from the United States. She broke her back not once, but twice before making it to the 2018 Olympics. Bradie is known for her "nerves of steel". In an interview on, when asked what she thinks about before the competition, Bradie says, "anything but the competition" which helps her avoid overthinking. She has used her adversity and injury as motivation to work harder instead of letting it bring her down. What makes her so successful in competition is her inate ability to skate without fear. It would be easy for her to "overthink" like she says, but she has mastered managing her thoughts which contributes to her success under pressure.

Besides the incredible displays of athleticism, there are so many things to be learned from watching the Olympics. Specifically their ability to turn something terrible or potentially career ending into something that catapults them further. These unique individuals use these unique experiences to motivate them to work harder instead of discouraging from competing. When something knocks us down it is easy to get frustrated, wonder why it happened, and lose your motivation to continue working hard. But the truth is, we have to work harder. When adversity comes, we have to accept it, and work through it. So when the challenges come, will you be ready?

Image from Enews Online.

Image from

Image from Mercury News.

Image from Zimbio.

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