I’m an Olympic Athlete, and my goal is to be the best in the world in my chosen event.
As I write this, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games is coming to an end. You can’t argue, it’s inspiring to watch. Athletes from around the world dedicating their lives in the pursuit of gold and glory.
I remember when the 2000 Olympics came to town. I’m not sure whether it was because I was 12 years old and had more free time than I knew what to do with, or whether it was because I lived in the host country, but it was freaking awesome. There was always something to watch, stories being written in the history books, and to top it off, Roy & HG had their hilarious re-cap show each night. I was a sponge, and I soaked up every drop of that Olympic juice.
I found out earlier this week that since 1992, everyone that plays in the Men’s Soccer has to be aged below 23. Since 1996, you’re allowed 3 players per team over this age. The idea is to allow teams from around the world to compete equally. Though sad to admit, with the Olympics occurring every 4 years, if you were a hopeful Soccer wannabe, you simply may not be at your peak ability, and age, by the time your optimal Olympics rolls around. Turns out it can even come down to your genetic lottery to even make the team in the first place.
Because here’s the thing with the Olympics. It’s all about timing. Your success is largely dictated by many conditions outside of your control. The weather. Your day-to-day personal health. Your competitors. The simple fact of the matter is that even when you’re the best you’ll ever be, if someone is better than you, at that split moment in time, nothing you can do will ever change that. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Imagine being the best athlete your country has ever seen. If you’re competing against a Michael Phelps or a Usain Bolt, you’re just flat out of luck.
In the Olympics, you compare yourself to every other person you’re competing against. That’s how sport works. When you’re trying to be the best, competition, and comparison, is not only unavoidable, it’s what defines it.
But if you’re like me, you’re not a Professional Olympic Athlete. Comparisons still exist in our life, but often subconsciously we direct them to things that they don’t actually apply to.
Take for instance our own bodies. Whenever we look at magazine covers, at professional athletes, even our friends, we are always comparing ourselves. Our body image means more to us than we give these thoughts credit for. But it shouldn’t. Sometimes, no matter what you do, your genetic lottery can largely determine whether you’re even able to achieve the same body you’re comparing to or not. This isn’t to say that if it does matter to you, you shouldn’t try. It’s to say that you and everyone else have completely different finish lines. I call it the Personal Olympics.
In the Personal Olympics, where the one goal is to train and improve your own individual health and fitness, the success determiner is vastly different to the Professional Olympics. The Personal Olympics is not even a timed event. In this event they give everyone a gold medal for trying, the race lasts your entire life, and the result only matters as much as you want it to.
I’m an Olympic Athlete, and my goal is to be the best in the world in my chosen event. My Personal Olympics isn’t on TV, and I’m the only competitor in my event. But it doesn’t stop me from trying to be the best I can possibly be.
Because the difference from me and every other Professional Olympian is that I don’t have to bother with looking at the lane next to me. My success isn’t determined by the abilities of others, but the pursuit of my goal is held in the same regard.
You too can compete in the Personal Olympics. If you simply have a goal, you’ve qualified. If you’ve already started training, you’re set for a podium finish. Can you hear the crowd? They’re all cheering for you.
I’ll see you on the track.