So while failure is an important component of an athlete’s journey, setting realistic goals and expectations is also key to becoming successful and reaching your full potential. Whether an athlete’s goal is to make the Olympic team, win a medal or just do their best on the day and take part. After all isn’t that what sport and especially the Olympics is ultimately all about: “the taking part”, “doing your best”? Isn’t that what Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, envisioned for the Games?
As I have aged my goals and expectations have changed and so has my motivation. I can’t do what I used to do and I can’t do all the things I want to do. So I adapt, modify my approach and make the necessary physical and mental changes. If I didn’t I would utterly and completely fail and that wouldn’t be good.
I have always been told people fall into two categories, you are either a positive or negative person – you see a glass of water as either half full or half empty. With the experience I have had being on this planet for half a century and competing for 40 years, I would have to disagree with this statement now. It is incomplete. I would say that there is another category, which is for the people who are happy there is a glass with some water in it. This last category is a group I would now put myself in. I am just happy to still be out there competing. Trust me, I savour every moment.
So as we watch the 2012 Olympics in two weeks, I hope we enjoy and celebrate the athletic accomplishments that we see – and don’t see for that matter – and realise the athletes are giving it their all, doing their very best. They have had to overcome many failures along the way to get there. Don’t get too wrapped up in the medal count for that distorts the real Olympic experience, the human experience. There will be some great successes, but also some notable failures and disasters on the field of play and in the battle of competition and we should give all the athletes our full positive support. We, the spectators and fans, cannot fail to do this. That is our unwritten role. Don’t fall into the negative pessimistic role as individuals or as a collective.
The world’s biggest sporting event – the Olympics and Paralympics – are about to begin. Let’s enjoy and celebrate that. It is in Britain, on our home turf. We won the bid to host the games. We did not fail. Now let’s make sure we don’t fail to support our athletes, coaches and organizations to make this truly “the best games ever”.
Roald Bradstock represented Britain in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and in 1996 was an alternate for the United States Olympic team. Bradstock competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 United States Olympic Trials. He has now switched his allegiance back to Britain. In addition to being an Olympic athlete, Bradstock is also an Olympic artist dubbed “The Olympic Picasso”
Credit for top photo: Atlanta Sports Photography