The Olympic Trials were held a few weeks ago and, right now, the majority of Americans are still buzzing about them as the 2012 London Olympic Games draw nearer. As each round of trials aired, the athlete inside of many grew hungry. For some, it’s motivating to watch such talented athletes succeed in their sports. Watching swimmer Ryan Lochte win his heat – while drooling over his hot bod of course – or holding your breath while gymnast Jordyn Wieber goes for her beam dismount kind of makes you wish you could be there doing something amazing yourself.
After you get past the initial awe of watching the athletes compete – something that isn’t quick to go – you begin to wonder how exactly they got to the position they are in today. What pushed them to get there? What made them the best? The U.S. Olympic Team’s athletes harbor more motivation, dedication, and perseverance than any other in their sport, but why?
HBO Real Sports recently ran a story about 100m hurdler Lolo Jones that sparked the interest of many. The interview covered the harrowing story of Jones’ childhood and revisited her failure to qualify at the 2004 Athens Olympics and her loss at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where she knocked down the ninth hurdle; that ninth hurdle is something that has haunted her for the last four years. As Jones stepped past the finish line of that cruel race, she sank to the ground and remembers, “I felt like somebody had just stabbed me in the stomach. I didn’t even have the energy to get up. I couldn’t even stand.” However, right after that she reminded herself, “You’re at the Olympics. You made it to the show.”
Jones’ setbacks didn’t stop her; she has pushed on. In the interview, Jones says she has been training harder than she ever has before. The athlete is hungry for the gold and after everything she has been through she has once again qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Jones literally ran away from her past and toward a brighter future. She had a tough road to London, but how she got there isn’t what is most important, it’s that she made it after everything she had to endure.
Now that you’ve learned about Lolo, I can assume that you’re sitting here wondering, “Okay, so how does this apply to me and my fitness goals? What does this mean for us, the ‘normal’ people?” Well, if you think about all of the times Lolo Jones has been turned away from the gold and the way she pushed forward after each setback, you may begin to see her drive and perseverance as inspiration. If you take what Jones and other Olympic athletes practice each day and work to apply their mental disciplines to your own life, your fitness goals and progress are sure to skyrocket.
It is important to remain positive and determined while training even if you are going through a slump or plateau in your fitness goals. Jones pushed harder each time she was at a loss, which is exactly what you should do in the gym. If you normally do twelve reps of each set, push for fifteen; the burn from those extra three reps will remind you that you’re stronger than you think. You’ll realize that, like Lolo, you can keep pushing to better yourself.
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to say you’re working toward a goal or, in the spirit of the Olympics, traveling on a road toward them. Enjoy the remainder of the summer Olympics and, while you’re at it, pave your own road to London because Nike is right, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.”