What can we learn from the Athletics World Cup?

Don’t you think it’s a special privilege observing someone pushing themselves to their limits to achieve a goal – big or small, and to share in the elation and excitement of their achievement? I certainly do. I’m a bit of an achievement junkie and get huge vicarious pleasure in observing the achievements of others.

So it was fantastic to sporadically hook into the TV over last weekend to watch the massive achievements of so many athletes at the Athletics World Cup championships in Beijing. Despite athletics being in chaos due to ongoing doping scandals, the ‘clean’ athletes were awe-inspiring in their achievements.

The highlights for me were:

  • The marvellous Mo Farah winning the 10,000m and the following week 5,000m race.
  • The multi-talented Jessica Ennis-Hill winning the Heptathlon world title.
  • The legendary Usain Bolt retaining his 100m world title – by a whisker, and later the 200m world title!

They struggle too

The thing is, while Mo, Jessica and Usain are known to many of us as magnificent athletes with phenomenal achievements behind them, often we don’t know their back stories, the struggles they’ve had to get to the level they’re at now.

While Usain Bolt is the undisputed fastest man in the world, by all accounts, he’s had a very unpredictable year this year. Injuries, average performances on the track, the swirl of drugs allegations affecting his sport (there is no suggestion he’s a drug cheat) have all taken their toll on him. Usain stumbled during his 100m heats race too… and risked not being in the final. He certainly wasn’t the favourite to win this 100m final. Twice convicted drugs cheat Justin Gatlin was, so that added to the pressure. There was even more pressure on Usain for the 200m, which in the end, he blitzed!

Jessica Ennis-Hill took a couple of years away from her sport after the London 2012 Olympic Games to have a baby. She’s only recently returned and wasn’t sure until a couple of weeks ago whether her performances in the lead up to Beijing were good enough for this event. As she says, she’s a mother first and an athlete second. These world champs are the first time she’s had to be away from her young son, and her heart has ached as a result.

Mo Farah’s coach is under investigation for supplying a number of athletes with performance enhancing drugs. Mo is not implicated in this scam, but the accusations against the man who has been a major influence in his life and athletics career have certainly taken their toll on Mo.   Yet, he was able to put all that behind him, when it counted to win his races in magnificent style, therefore giving him legendary status, as no other athlete as ever achieved winning the ‘triple double’ (winning both the 10,000m and 5,000m three times).

What can we learn?

Quite simply, to never give up on the dream! Regardless of how hard it gets on the journey, if the dream, the vision, the goal is important enough to us, we can find a way! We will find a way. If we believe we can achieve it, we will.

Focus and determination in the face of challenge and difficulty is key to success – for everyone – not just elite athletes or ‘other’ people. Steely focus on the goal is critical.

Going the distance (excuse the running pun) by doing the work is fundamental to achieving the success we want. Yes, there are times when we’ll be on the wrong path and we’ll have to turn back or turn left or right to get back on track… that’s just another way of going the distance.

I love Shakespeare’s quote: ‘Nothing comes from doing nothing.’ We need to continually take action. Movement propels us forward. While it may take a while, if we want it enough, if we are determined, we will achieve our goal.

Our own gold medal

What’s on offer when we get through the challenge, the twists and turns, the struggle? What’s on the other side of pushing through our own lack of belief that at times will attempt to limit and control us?

Our own success! Our own gold medal! Our own jubilation, joy and satisfaction at a job well done! Now, that’s something to behold. That’s something to keep striving for.

“A dream! A belief! An action! That’s all it takes to create the life you want.” – Adèle McLay

ACTION: I’d love to know if you’ve been inspired by the very many sporting heroes who are competing around the world at present. What inspires you the most about their journey, successes, failures and achievements? How about letting us know in the comments below?