Amongst all the pride, the passion and the excitement at Team GB’s success at the Olympics, there are lessons we can all learn from our most successful Olympians in more than a century. But with London 2012 looking to ‘inspire a generation’, what can the youth of Britain take from the achievements of Sir Chris Hoy, Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah?
1. Winning does count
Don’t let anybody tell you that taking part is what it’s all about. You only had to look at the reactions of the athletes to winning and losing to understand this. Just try telling Sir Chris Hoy that taking part was the most important thing. Katherine Grainger was so determined to win gold that she kept going, through 3 Olympics, until she did.
2. Talent counts for nothing without hard work
A consistent message from all the gold medal-winning athletes was that success came after huge amounts of hard work and dedication, not only from the athletes, but also from coaches and support staff. So the next time someone tells you they delivered an A* without putting in any work, or you get a hard time for putting the hours in at school, think of what Jessica Ennis might say to that.
3. Find something you are good at
How did you choose your GCSE options, which sport to play or which A levels to focus on. Chances are that it involved a bit of a mix: what mates were doing, what you dislike the least, who was teaching it. Athletes don’t work that way. Team GB excelled at rowing and cycling. Both sports put in a lot of time up front to work out who has the potential to be a really good rower or cyclist. Spend the time to work out what you can be really good at and you’ll be a winner in the long run. Remember the story of Bradley Wiggins – he was riding his bike when all his mates were playing football and thinking him uncool. But now he’s a champion and those other kids at school are telling their friends Wiggo went to school with them.
4. Even the biggest problems can be tackled if you break them down into small pieces
It’s daunting to be faced by what can seem a huge task. The university course you really want to attend are asking for 1 A* and 2 A’s. You need to get at least B’s to study the A levels you want. Your parents are expecting great things from your GCSE’s. Take a leaf out of Team GB Cycling’s book by taking any problem and break it down into tiny pieces, 100 or more. Break it down by subject and list out all the pieces that you have to learn. Get someone to help you. Colour-code the bits you know well, know a bit and don’t know at all. Get help to improve the bits you don’t know – they’ll be manageable chunks that can be tackled in a few days or weeks. Then when you put it all back together, you’ll find that you’ve improved massively. Success will give you the energy to keep going.