By Ojevwe Egbedi

The world has produced several successful sportsmen, some who have been heroes for their society and country. For all these sportspeople, becoming successful and a celebrity in their particular sports career always begins with an enthusiastic dream driven by a passion to succeed. However, no sooner do they start to pursue this wholesome desire that they realize that there is more to becoming successful than a mere fantasy.

Today, competition in sports has become rife and commonplace, which can mostly be attributed to the proliferation of technology-based training tools and unlimited access to sports education and coaching.

The implication is that young athletes or those young ones who are just getting into sports will have to put in their best to be able to succeed and be recognized in this steeply competitive environment.

However, there is something in sports that always stands between success and doing your best. 

It is called “Failure”.  

As young athletes brimming with confidence, hope, and enthusiasm in their chosen sports, it is pertinent to realize from the beginning that there is a possibility of failure or setback at any point in your career due to all kinds of challenges athletes face. These may include injuries and sickness, exhausting training schedules, lost matches, missed targets, heartbreaking failures, and personal adversity. 

Here are a few sports superstars and heroes who faced enormous challenges and refused to cave in but rather used those situations as a motivation to achieve success. A common denominator in the never-say-die mentality of these groups of successful athletes is that they saw failure as a “tripping”. No one stays on the ground after tripping and for each one of these people, any time they fell short of their mark, they picked themselves up and continued to set their eyes on the destination- the very top.

  • Kieran Behan, a gymnast who later became a world champion and an Olympian had two major career-threatening injuries and was told by doctors he may never walk again.
  • Michael Phelps is considered the greatest Olympian swimmer of all time. Everyone thought that no swimmer would be able to win 8 gold medals in just one Olympic Games. Michael did just that and he has 19 Olympic medals, 15 of which are gold! The remarkable thing about him is that as a child he suffered from ADHD and was on medication for some time. He was able to turn his disadvantage of ADHD into a positive one. Phelps has emerged as an inspiring example to anyone who suffers from any health disorder to succeed regardless. Another lesson about him is that he uses the power of visualizing success before he starts swimming. He started this process when he was only 7 years old. He realized there were no limits to success and once you are determined to achieve success, nothing can stop you. He said: “Nobody is going to put a limit on what I’m doing. I’m going to do what I want to do when I want to do it. That is how I have always worked. If I want something I am going to go and get it.” – Michael Phelps
  • Michael Jordan who is seen as the greatest basketball player of all time had his own fair share of failures. He was dropped from his high school basketball team. He has actually counted his failures and they include 300 lost games and he has missed taking the game-winning shot 26 times. Most champions are discouraged and by failures but he had the right attitude and regarded them as the recipe for his success. He said:

 “I know that fear is an obstacle for some people, but for me, it is just an illusion….. Failure always makes me try harder on the next opportunity.” – Michael Jordan

If ever you need any motivation as a youth athlete to rise to the peak of your career or become successful in what you do, those words from some of the world’s greatest athletes are all you need.