With the 2018 Winter Olympics underway in Pyeongchang, athletes from 92 participating countries are fighting for their claim to one or more of the 102 medals, presented across 15 sports.
Maybe you follow each event doggedly or catch the highlights whilst you clear emails. Admit it, there is a curiosity about those competing at the highest level. Athletes epitomise success, willpower, and dedication. We fixate on those in their prime, at the top of their game and achieving feats thought to be impossible. Something we tend to overlook, however, are the transferable skills from their achievements.
Here are five takeaways we can learn from five Olympians who’ve struck gold in Pyeongchang this year.
1. Commit to a process rather than a goal – Mikaël Kingsbury, Canada
Kingsbury took home gold in the Men’s Moguls, or freestyle skiing, on day five of the Pyeongchang Olympics. He chalks his successes down to focusing on shorter more specific goals, which form the larger wins such as his medal. The achievement of these micro-goals can maintain motivation whilst moving towards a larger, longer-term goal.
I try to focus more on the process I need to do to win instead of the outcome. If you start thinking too much about the outcome – about winning or being on the podium – it’s rarely going to work. If you focus run by run – one jump at a time, one bump at a time – you will become faster and it will be way easier to be consistent because you’re right in the moment.
2. Don’t lose sight of your success – Lizzy Yarnold, Great Britain
Scoping up her successive gold medal in the women’s Skeleton, the athlete is the only Brit to retain her Winter Olympics title. A mean feat for somebody who was introduced to skeleton racing only ten years ago.
She says, “You are the only person who can judge your own success… So whatever drives you and makes you get up in the morning – you have to determine your success by doing whatever it is that inspires you. Success comes in many forms and is often short-lived – we tend to dwell on failure and celebrate successes very quickly so you have to remind yourself often of your successes to stay motivated.”
3. Bounce back from adversities – Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway
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Svindal was crowned the oldest gold medallist in Olympic alpine history at the Pyeongchang games when he placed first in the men’s downhill skiing at 35 years old. This is exceptional for an athlete whose career has seen record-breaking victories and the hindrance of injuries in equal measure. His resilience may even be worthy of Olympic recognition. Upon discovering he’d need to undergo knee surgery yet again in the same year, he simply remarked, “here we go again.”
Telling Reuters, “I’m good at focusing on what’s important. When you’re in hospital on crutches, there’s a lot you can’t do so you have to focus on what you can do.” Svindal is conscious of which limits he should push, and those he needs to keep in check. Several days before his winning race, Svindal stepped out of slalom leg of the men’s Olympic combined event to prevent injuring his knee in difficult conditions. Challenge yourself but don’t forget to listen to your body and soul to prevent burnout.
4. Clean room, clear mind– Ireen Wüst, The Netherlands
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The Netherlands is infamous for its dominance in speedskating, winning 23 out of 36 medals in Sochi. Wüst is a Dutch powerhouse. She has a record ten Olympic medals, scooping up a gold medal in the 1500 metres and a silver in the 3000m in Pyeongchang.
Being conscious of clutter is something Wüst is mindful of to help keep her focused and calm.
When I arrive [to a hotel], the clothes go straight into the closet and I ensure that everything is tidy… It gives me tranquility in my head. [It’s] Very strange, because when I was younger my mum always shouted, “clean your room”. Something changed. I think that I now search for that tranquility.
(translated from Nando, 2013, De Schaatser)
5. Appreciate those who support you – Chloe Kim, United States
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Behind every Olympian are those who’ve sacrificed and supported them to afford them opportunities they may not have had otherwise.
Chloe Kim knows this only too well. At 8 years old her dad quit his engineering job to nurture her talent. It paid off. She qualified for Sochi at 13 years old but fell short of the minimum age requirement of 15. Fast forward to Pyeongchang, the 17-year-old took gold in her debut Olympics in the snowboard halfpipe event.
Speaking about her dad, Jong Jin Kim, “He sacrificed so much for me,” Kim tells CNBC’s Quintanilla. “I get in a lot of arguments with him, but at the end of the day, I’m so grateful for his support and just the way he believed in me when no one else did.”
Feature Image: PX Here