What does it take to be an Olympic champion? Surely, it takes hard work, dedication, believing in your abilities and being unstoppable in the pursuit of a skill. Still, what exactly sets apart a person who excels at something from a person who is the best at something? Is there a secret ingredient? “Mentality”, says Sports Psychologist Jim Afremow, PhD in his book, The Champion’s Mind. “Physical ability alone rarely translates into a superior on-field performance. Even naturally gifted athletes who want to perform to their total potential need outstanding physical and mental strengths because their secret to great performances is not their innate athleticism or technical skills – it’s their mind,” Afremow writes.
To be exceptional at our chosen endeavor, whether it’s a sport, playing music, entrepreneurship or academics requires mental toughness and fortitude. Ultimately, champions have a mind immersed in virtue – perseverance, courage, confidence, resiliency, preparedness, and unity. Above all, they have a passion for a thing and a deep-seated desire to succeed at that thing. They also understand that their successes come with setbacks but with adaptability, pushing past their comfort zone and an anything is possible, “I am limitless” attitude, it can happen.
If you want to achieve success in something you do, you can because we are all born with potential. Potential combined with our daily patterns of certain values (or virtue) will take us to the top of our pursuits.
Here are 24 quotes (under the virtue they embody) by Olympic champions to inspire a champion mind and motivate your success:
1. “I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” ~Nadia Comaneci, Romanian gymnastics gold-medalist, 1980, 1976
2. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” ~Muhammad Ali, USA boxing gold medalist, 1960
3. “What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave.” ~Erika Brown, curling Olympian, 1988, 1998, 2014
4. “Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind. It meant training and sweating every day. But I was completely committed to working out to prove to myself that I still could do it.” ~Andre Agassi, USA tennis gold medalist, 1996
5. “Girls playing sports is not about winning gold medals. It’s about self-esteem, learning to compete and learning how hard you have to work in order to achieve your goals.” ~Jackie Joyner-Kersee, USA track and field gold medalist, 1992, 1988
6. “You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there.” ~Venus Williams, USA tennis gold medalist, 2000, 2008
7. “Nobody needs to prove to anybody what they’re worthy of, just the person that they look at in the mirror. That’s the only person you need to answer to.” ~Picabo Street, USA alpine skiing gold medalist, 1998.
8. “If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.” ~Carl Lewis, USA track and field gold medalist, 1996, 1992, 1988 and 1984
9. “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” ~Wilma Rudolph, USA track and field (runner) gold medalist, 1960
10. “The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself.” ~Dawn Fraser, Australian freestyle swimming gold medalist, 1964, 1960, 1956
11. “I always believe I can beat the best, achieve the best. I always see myself in the top.” ~Serena Williams, USA tennis gold medalist, 2012, 2008, 2000
12. “Nothing is impossible. With so many people saying it couldn’t be done, all it takes is an imagination.” ~Michael Phelps, USA swimming gold medalist, 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004
13. “The first thing is to love your sport. Never do it to please someone else. It has to be yours.” ~Peggy Fleming, USA figure skating gold medalist, 1968
14. “Passion is a huge prerequisite to winning. It makes you willing to jump through hoops, go through all the ups and downs and everything in between to reach your goal.” ~Kerri Walsh, beach volleyball gold medalist, 2012, 2008, 2004
15. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career … I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~Michael Jordan, USA basketball gold medalist, 1992, 1984
16. “Everything that I’ve ever been able to accomplish in skating and in life has come out of adversity and perseverance.” ~Scott Hamilton, USA ice skating gold medalist, 1984
17. “I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” ~Mia Hamm, USA soccer gold medalist, 2004, 1996
18. “If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” ~Mark Spitz, USA swimming gold medalist, 1972
19. “Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.” ~Mary Lou Retton, USA gymnastics gold medalist, 1984
20. “We have the can-do factor, and us doing what we do I think inspires people to just try that little bit harder, whether they are able-bodied or disabled.” ~Lee Pearson, British para-equestrian gold medalist, 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000
21. “If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then willpower is no longer a problem. It’s raining? That doesn’t matter. I am tired. That’s besides the point. It’s simply that I just have to.” ~ Emil Zatopek, Czechoslovak marathon running gold medalist, 1952, 1948
22. “If you think you’re done, you always have at least 40 percent more.” ~Lauren Crandall, captain of the USA Olympic field hockey team, 2012
23. “Whether we had finished on top or not, the thing that I’m proud of is sticking together,” ~Misty May-Treanor, USA volleyball gold medalist, 2012, 2008, 2004
24. “We should help support each other, rather than try to be better than each other.” ~Katarina Witt, German figure skating gold medalist, 1988, 1984
Do you have a favorite quote? Let us know below and tell us how it inspires you.