Well our GB and Irish athletes have really been doing us proud in Rio. From Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, the fantastic Andy Murray and all of the GB cyclists and GB rowers as well as our own indomitable O’Donovan brothers from Skibbereen.
The inspirational performance from 23 year old Max Whitlock (pictured) is worth a special mention. Max won two golds within two hours in the gymnastics yesterday (Men’s floor, pommel horse), having already one a bronze in the mens individual all-round. When asked how he felt and of his expectations before coming into the Olympics is answer was particularly interesting for me.
“I never go into any competition thinking about medals but just thinking about doing my job.
You only get about one minute to show what you’ve been working on for four years.”
That is a golden attitude and one I heard recently echoed in a podcast by Tony Robbins interviewing the fantastic coach and all-round lovely person Siri Lindley.
She recounts a story of her past when trying to achieve greatness and her goal of qualifying for the Olympic games. She had shut herself away to the outside world and trained for 12 months consistently with a vengeance in an attempt to make sure she qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympic games. Her A race that year was the Olympic games qualification race. She even went so far as to visualise her perfect race for 365 days. This was very unlike Siri, a naturally ‘people person’, to shut out family, friends and those she loved. However her drive to achieve this goal so so great that she truly believed this was the path she must take.
On the day of the race she was dunked on the swim and lost the lead pack of swimmers and it was game over. This had not happened in her visualisation of her perfect race and she, in her own words, ‘choked’. She finished third and did not qualify to compete at the Olympics but qualified as an alternate. This is not what she wanted. Something had to change.
Brett Sutton seen something special in Siri that she did not and asked her to train with his team in Switzerland. Although she admits the first few weeks nearly destroyed her, Brett brought out a confidence and belief in herself that she had never experienced. The insecure girl who put herself under so much pressure in every single race changed into a champion triathlete who finally realised she competed for ‘love of the game’ and trained because she enjoyed the sport of triathlon. No longer insecure her attitude changed from needing to win and podium with every race to just being grateful to being able to do what she loved every day. The results followed.
Siri now is a world-class coach and was inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame this year. The ethos she creates for her athletes combines philosophies from her own previous coaches and her own unique style.
Three philosophies I picked up from listening to the above podcast.
- You as a human being are far more important than you as an athlete
- Be better than you were yesterday
- Be grateful, believe (Siri has these words tattooed on her inner wrists) and love what you do every day
I love these philosophies and I think that Max Whitlock, the double olympic champion lives by these rules too. He openly admitted to loving what he does, enjoying training and that in the Olympics he far outdone himself. “I just went out and did my job.”
My lesson in all this is –
Don’t focus to heavily on the outcome of ‘that’ race (whatever race you are in from triathlon to life!)
Focus on being better than you’ve been before,
Learn and grow from your mistakes and
Believe in your ability and be grateful for every opportunity granted you.