18 Lessons from the Greatest Athletes of Our Time

I wrote this article 4 years ago…

… and it’s fascinating how all of these lessons are 100% valid even today!

I was inspired to write about the Olympics because it’s an extremely inspirational event!

And because I want to escape the environment surrounding me these days that is filled with arguments, complaints and mediocrity.

I wrote this article because I want to offer you a series of stories and life lessons that were made possible because of these Olympic Games.

I’ve always had a deep sense of admiration for performance athletes and this article is a tribute to their work, sacrifice and dedication.

Read it and let yourself be inspired to change your life for the better!

  • Your level of dedication determines your level of excellence!
  • romania-fencing

    There are hundreds of thousands of people who wish to enter the Olympic Games. Tenths of thousands train for it. A few hundred are selected. However, only the most dedicated reach the Olympic final. I was very impressed by the interview given by the athletes of the Romanian fencing team who won the silver medal. Most of them have been practicing fencing for over 20 years. That’s right! 20 years! I don’t think there’s anything left to say here…

  • Each Olympic medalist has a top coach!
  • gabby-douglas

    A year ago Gabby Douglas was a “disaster” at the national championships while her opponent Jordyn Wieber was the world champion and the certain favorite. Nicknamed “the flying squirrel”, at just 16 years old, Gabby is the first African-American gymnast to win the single women event as well as the gold medal alongside the US gymnastics team. She trained far away from prying eyes with Liang Chow, the one who helped her and Shawn Johnson win a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. The coach had a tremendous impact in the end result!

  • If you’re not up by sunrise you have no chance at becoming the best!
  • michael-phelps

    I don’t think this necessarily applies to teams as well, but athletes who compete in individual events wake up before 6AM every morning. Each one of them knows they can only rely on themselves. If they don’t prepare failure is a guarantee. If they don’t wake up, they’ll be surpassed by their competitor who wakes up before sunrise. Michael Phelps – the greatest Olympic athlete of all times who won 22 medals (out of which 18 were gold medals) – has been waking up for 20 years before 6AM. And every Olympian is like him, especially those who compete in individual events.

  • The more pressure you put on yourself the more likely you are to fail!
  • mihai-covaliu

    The Romanian female fencing team, today’s world champion, was eliminated in the quarter finals even though they were considered as favorites for winning the gold medal. The betts were all in favour of them winning the gold medal. However the excessive amount of pressure restricted the Romanian team. The tensions were carefully speculated by the South Korean team that waited patiently for the Romanian athletes to break under pressure.

    On the other hand, however, the Romanian male fencing team, admirably led by Mihai Covaliu, took advantage of the pressure their adversaries were under. Romania beat Russia even though the latter was considered to be the most likely to win the event. And this is how Covaliu’s words became a reality: “in fencing favorites don’t win”.

  • You don’t know what you’re capable of until you give it your all!
  • tiki-gelana

    I just watched the ending of the female marathon event. I saw the Ethiopian athlete Tiki Gelana sprint for 1km thus winning the gold medal, passing 3 other competitors and setting a new Olympic record! Can you imagine how hard it is to sprint for 1km after you’ve already ran 41km? Hardly… but still, it’s possible. And then I ask you: is your stake important enough for you to give it your all?

  • Mental preparation is more important than physical training!
  • diving-jumps

    Every Olympic team and every Olympic athlete actively work on visualizing the perfect movements and strategy they’re going to use. They see the sequence, in their mind’s eye, to the last detail. They spend endless hours mentally focusing. One of the sports in which this practice has enormous benefits is diving. And, the height of the jump is directly proportional with the amount of mental training necessary.

    Maybe you’ve tried at a certain point in time to dive and things didn’t turn out the way you wanted them to… because your mind had an unclear image and your body interpreted that image in a fuzzy way. The smallest mistake made during a diving event can lead to serious injury or even the end of someone’s career. Nothing is left to chance.

  • Attention to details makes all the difference!
  • london-olympics-design

    I really enjoyed the aesthetics of this Olympic. The British really did a good job! I especially appreciated the chromatics. The sporting events are color-coded and they transmit this unified message that says “we’ve thought about how to offer you the best experience possible”. And if you’ve ever organized projects in your life, I think you’ll realize that the Olympic Games are amongst the most complex events – if not the most complex event – organized at this moment worldwide. My congratulations and respects go out to the organizers.

  • Never give up, not even when the odds are stacked against you or people look at you with disbelief!
  • Michael Phelps didn’t win a medal during the first heat he entered at these Olympic Games. He only came in 4th. His adversary and future star of American swimming, Ryan Lochte, was on a roll. He already won the first heat and was quickly gaining on Phelps. Numerous people thought this spelled the end of Phelps’s career. Numerous newspapers even wrote that this was the dawn of Michael’s career… but in reality… “the greatest Olympian in history”, as he was called, picked himself up, dusted himself off and ended his career in a brilliant way… by winning 4 gold medals and 2 silver medal during his last days in London.

  • Overcome your condition and become much more than your past!
  • kayla-harrison

    22-year old Kayla Harrison is the first Judo athlete to win an Olympic gold medal for the US! Her success however doesn’t reveal a thing about the struggle she had to face to get here. When she was 16, she was an emotionally devastated athlete who had suicidal tendencies after being sexually assaulted by an ex coach. Everyone was talking about her experience and everybody felt sorry for her.

    9 months before the Olympics however she took responsibility for her experience and gave an interview to USA today recounting her story. Today Kayla says that “you’re a victim only if you allow yourself to be one” and she encourages other victims of abuse to tell their story and move on with their lives.

  • When things don’t go according to plan take a break!
  • dana-vollmer1

    24-year old Dana Vollmer became the first female athlete to swim the 100m butterfly heat in under 56 seconds. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics however Vollmer only placed 5th during this heat. Instead of training even harder for this event she went on a vacation and left for Fiji to teach kids how to swim. She came back a new person and became the fastest swimmer in history for this distance.

  • Set your goal and be willing to pay the price!
  • training-center

    Olympic athletes make unimaginable sacrifices unlike those who don’t train as intensely as they do. In most cases, they spend 11 months out of the year in training camp. For a precious few, however, the price they pay is worth the result they achieve. And they’re willing to pay it.

  • Don’t let others tell you what’s possible for you!
  • oscar-pistorius

    Oscar Pistorius is the first double-leg-amputee athlete to participate in the Olympics and he managed to qualify to the semifinals after the 400m quarter final heat. He had to sue the Olympic committee to be allowed to participate. He fought for years to win his right to participate. His vehemence paid off and Oscar managed to spark the imagination of millions of people with his determination. His actions were unprecedented and they moved the border of impossibility farther away in the collective mind of the people watching him.

  • No match is won beforehand!
  • sk-vs-e

    South Korea eliminated the British soccer team from the Olympic Games. The Brits were playing at home, in front of their own supporters and their team had a lot of players from the official soccer team (for those who don’t know only players under the age of 23 and 3 players over that age are allowed to enter the soccer Olympic competition). South Korea had a team of players no one had ever heard of before. However these players fought their way through the initial 90 minutes, the overtime and the penalty kicks. Fight for your chance until the end and you have a shot at besting even the favorites.

  • To be at the top your willpower has to be greater than the pain you endure!
  • sandra-izbasa

    What better example can I provide other than Sandra Izbasa, the recent winner of a gold medal for Romania. Her participation in these Olympic Games was uncertain for a long time because of an injury. But when you’re 100% congruent with your goal the limits you perceive about yourself tend to weaken and become more permissive.

  • If you can visualize the result you want and work passionately you can become a part of history!
  • erick-barrondo

    Such is the case of 22-year old Erick Barrondo who won a silver medal during the 20km event. It’s the first medal in history obtained by Guatemala ever since 1952 when it first participated at the Olympic Games. What’s truly remarkable is that Erick created a stone medal and photographed himself with it before the Olympics. Clearly he passionately believed in his goal and worked hard. And his performance was historical!

  • You can be remarkable at any age!
  • hiroshi-hoketsu

    Japanese Hiroshi Hoketsu became the oldest Olympic participant at 71 years old! Even more remarkable is the fact that Hiroshi has been taking part in the Olympics ever since 1964. And his perspective on life is truly spectacular: “My biggest motivator and what keeps me participating in the Olympics is the fact that I can see my progress!” Now that’s a life lesson!

  • What you do with your life is up to you!
  • I am impressed by the story of Razvan Martin, the Romanian weightlifter who won the bronze medal for Romania. It was the first weightlifting medal a Romanian won after the performance of Nicu Vlad in 1996. At just 20 years of age, Razvan has an incredible life story. His father died when he was 3, his mother left when he was 6, he lived on the streets and ate off the dumpster until he found his way to a sports camp in Bistrita where he started to train. You can complain or you can take charge of your life! Both are choices that YOU make!

  • You won, keep going! You lost, keep going!


It’s the most important motto of the Olympic Games because this event is, first and foremost, a metaphor for those who do not participate. For you and for me the Olympics are a moment of inspiration.

They shine a light on what can be achieved through dedication, passion, planning, discipline, organization… and a lot of work done consistently. It’s an opportunity for us to evaluate our life yet again and decide if we just want to be average or if we want to be extraordinary… because both of these options are possible for us!

Wake Up & LIVE!


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