With the start of the 2012 London Olympics only hours away, I got to thinking about what makes an Olympic athlete stand head and shoulders above the rest. In my brainstorming, I narrowed it down to a few major components I think are essential.
1.) Consistency. An Olympic athlete consistently performs at a high level. The number of qualification events, roster cuts, and other processes that narrow the field to the handful of athletes we see competing in the end is intense. It forces an athlete to perform at a high level extremely consistently, or they simply won't make the cut.
2.) Training. To be the best, you need to train with the best. Often this occurs at a very early age for many of these athletes. Gymnasts start extremely young, for example, and keep developing their talents over the years.
3.) Time. The most important factor in my opinion is the time dedication. Professional athletes are able to make training a career. They are able to dedicate many hours of every day to honing their craft, to getting better all the time.
Obviously some people are more naturally gifted or, in some swimmers' cases, just better designed for swimming . . . but I really think it does boil down to those three things. Now, I want to make it clear that the accomplishments of those athletes are nothing but spectacular. I just want to point out that, if given the opportunity to train hard with the best, each and every one of us would be able to excel at what we were working toward. Perhaps not to Olympic standards, but certainly to an exceptional level. We are all capable of doing great things, it is just a matter of gathering the focus needed, putting in the time, and working hard to achieve what you want to achieve.
As you sit and watch all of the athletes do amazing things over the next couple of weeks, realize that you can do it, too.