EVERY four years, the greatest athletes of the world will converge at a place called Olympic Village. They bring with them inspiring stories of sweat, tears and perseverance.
With the world watching, these athletes strive to achieve incredible feats. There are indeed plenty of stories from the Olympics that we can derive life lessons from, especially for our kids.
FINDING NEW MOTIVATIONS
How do you motivate yourself when you have broken so many world records? Break some more! This was a lesson learnt from Michael Phelps, an American swimmer, who was already on top when going into this year’s Olympic Games. It would have been difficult for the man dubbed as “the greatest swimmer in history” to achieve more successes.
After a slow start in the competitions, he still managed to grab the headlines by winning yet another gold medal, creating history as the most successful Olympian — with 19 medals.
Many people would have been happy with one or two major achievements in their lives. But true champions are always hungry for more.
They somehow are able to motivate themselves to go above all the successes they have achieved. We must inculcate this attitude in our kids as early as possible. Don’t let them be complacent — always challenge them to move faster, do better and fly higher.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
In another event, another American athlete was tipped as the favourite to win a gymnastic event. He had been doing very well prior to the Games and there seemed to be no real challengers among the competitors. However, out of nowhere came a first-time participant from China. The Chinese athlete impressed everyone with his flawless moves and went on to win the gold medal.
When interviewed by the media, the American athlete sportingly applauded his opponent and said: “He deserved it. How can you compete with someone who has been practising consistently 12
hours a day?”
Yes, Olympic gold medals demand a high price and they come after plenty of sacrifice, and hours of practise. But so do other “gold medals” in life. Teach our kids that there are no shortcuts to success. One must put in the required energy and time to achieve any accomplishment. He must not be afraid to work hard and smart at the right place, and the right time.
Fortunately, we don’t need to be winning gold medals all the time to be a champion. Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi made our nation proud not because she won any medals but for showing the determination to participate despite being heavily pregnant.
In the air rifle shooting competition, she touched hearts around the globe when she offered no excuses and continued to shoot her way into the event. At times, she was seen talking to the baby inside her tummy to “stop kicking”.
Although she didn’t get through to the next round, Nur Suryani is already a winner. She showed the world what determination is all about. Pregnant or not, there is no excuse.
Let our kids know that winners don’t quit until they have given their best regardless of the situations. Excuses are only for those who do not want to take personal responsibility for their lives. At any time, there is very little we can do to control the situation. It would have been easier to blame our failures on other people, the school, the neighbourhood or even the weather. A true champion is above all that and focuses on what she can control to succeed.
FINISHING THE RACE
Perhaps the most inspiring Olympic story of all times is of Derek Redmond. He was a British runner competing in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He reached the final of the 400 metres race where he was the favourite to win. But halfway through it, he was seen to be in agony, holding his right leg. Determined to finish the race, he shrugged off the emergency medical personnel and limped on his left foot towards the finish line.
Suddenly, a man broke through the barrier and offered his shoulder. It was Derek’s father. Both father and son then finished the race together, but not before letting Derek get on his own to the finish line, earning a standing ovation and creating one of the most emotional moments in sporting history.
All these stories and more prove one thing — that life is not just about winning but more importantly, to push ourselves to be the best we can be. Parents and children must work together to achieve this objective. Throw in love, compassion and humanity and we are on our way towards creating a history of our own. We may not win gold medals but we are already winners when we aim higher, practice more, take control and cross the finish line with pride and dignity.
By ZAID MOHAMAD Source: New Straits Times Sunday Life & Times - 05 August 2012