Positives – what would you say? How would winning a gold medal be a positive experience?
Firstly, these top athletes said achieving their goal of winning a gold medal provided a great sense of achievement. They had been training for years and had now achieved it. For you, this is a reminder that your sporting and exercise goals take time. They need perseverance, but the sense of achievement is worth it. Athletes call it "stickability." Sticking to your goals and not giving up.
Negatives – can you think of any bad things that could come from winning gold?
Unfortunately, almost all the athletes pointed to significant things that went wrong after they had won gold. One athlete even said she would not have wanted to win if she knew of the impact it had on her life.
Taking a Break
Specifically, our top athletes had difficulties in coping with the demands and pressures following the win. They had achieved the best in their sport and now others expected them to be the best at life as well (e.g. public speaking, media). They also placed extra pressure on themselves to continue to achieve. Part of this led to burnout. One Olympic athlete commented:
"I was doing so many other things as well & therefore didn't have the normal routine of training or normal schedule that I would normally do to get to the top"
The tip from the top is to not overload yourself. Even the top athletes need a break or a change.
Another tip from these top athletes was the need to keep a balance in life. Specifically, growing in all areas of your life. One athlete commented:
"The emphasis for all coaches & administrators, I believe, must be on the development of the athlete as a person rather than simply as a potential medal winner. The enhancement should not only address physical & mental skills, but the total person: their emotional, creative, & social aspects."
The Olympic athletes in this study pointed to the importance of growing in all areas of their lives, not just in sport. Today we see the AFL clubs not only preparing athletes physically but also putting their athletes through training courses preparing them for their life after footy. They also provide people carers, such as sports chaplains, to help promote balance in an athlete's life and care for those off-field issues. The Victorian Institute of Sport motto is "Success in sport & life."
Well Being theologian suggests this reflects the approach that we should all have: strengthening or bodies physically but also growing emotionally and spiritually. These are important tips as we approach Christmas.