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MANILA, Philippines — A big part of being an athlete is physical strength, technique, and condition. But brawn and dexterity alone don’t win championships, and speed and control in itself won’t take you to the top. What defines an athlete is not his physicality, but attitude.
What’s your take on competition? What’s your attitude towards winning and losing?
To celebrate the winning attitude that turns competitors into champions, adidas is releasing a film series called Sport 15. It features an incredible roster of talents who not only represent the best of the best, but also exemplify how characteristics like passion, resilience, and commitment allow them to not only define their careers, but also take it.
Sportsmen who lose their temper in competition and are easily shaken by loss will not go far. The real losers are those who dwell on missed shots and losses and use numbers to define their careers. But athletes aren’t defined by their past games, regardless of the outcome. Athletes constantly evolve, and a sport is another chance for an athlete to define himself.
To become a successful athlete is a matter of attitude. Are you going to let the jitters of the past, the future, the “what if’s” get the best of you, or are you going to take today?
Winning is an attitude that can take you all the way. Here’s how.
Passion is at the heart of the sport. It’s the initiator, the flint to the ember of any athlete. And while it takes a lot more than just passion to help you see through till the end, it’s also what keeps you grounded. Passion is the answer to questions like “Why do I do what I do?” “Why am I here?” and “where do I want to go?” Any athlete is bound to get burned out by the rigors of physical training, losses, and rejections, but passion instills the reason for playing.
Damian Lillard is the point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, a double NBA All-Star, and winner of the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year award. Scoring an average of 21 points this season, there’s no denying that Lillard is a talented athlete. But recognition did not come easily for him. According to an interview with FOX Sports, Lillard struggled to be acknowledged in the sport every step of the way. Even when he was drafted 6th pick in the 2012 NBA draft, people were still saying he didn’t deserve it. But he worked harder than anyone, not just because he was the underdog, but especially because he was the underdog. And his passion to play basketball sustained the drive in proving his critics wrong and got him to where he is today.
“If what you did yesterday still looks big, then you haven’t done much today.”
But without forgetting where his passions led him, he wears a number “0”on his jersey to represent the letter “O”. And “O” is for Ogden, Utah where he played college basketball at Weber State, the same place where he rose to prominence. It also stands for Oregon, the state he currently calls home, and for Oakland, the city where he grew up in.
In a game of wins and losses, missed shots, and streams of should’ve, would’ve, could’ve opportunities, the best attitude any player can adopt is that of resilience. Hopelessness, doubt, regrets —these are sly, persistent enemies of the sportsman psyche that can creep up and take over at any moment. Even the most skilled player is not immune to the unexpected grip of hesitation. But every player has to lose sometime in his life. It’s what he does afterwards that count, and that’s when resilience kicks in.
There is no resilience without prior failure. And the strength that resilience brings can come from the toughest life can give – growing up poor, coming from a broken home, losing a loved one. Even when they do make it, most athletes still struggle with immense pressure.
An excellent example of resilience is Gareth Bale. Unlike Damian Lillard, Gareth Bale was recognized at an early age for his speed and killer kick at football, and everyone saw the potential. Unfortunately, expectation isn’t always a good thing. When he was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur, he was expected to be a prodigy, a young star, a genius athlete. But not many calculated his age and experience into the equation, and his first year was met with a lot of criticism. They called him a waste of cash and space, and even worse, the Spurs became associated with losing when Bale joined the team.
But over time, he developed his skills and honed his talents enough to be the renowned player everyone had expected him to be right off the bat. Once scoffed at by critics as a flop, Gareth Bale is now one of the world’s most expensive athletes, with his transfer to Real Madrid costing €91M.
Mental resilience is what took Gareth Bale out of a damning funk that could have branded him for life. He is now regarded as one of the world’s best, with his name uttered in the same breath as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. No doubt, the pressure that must have come from being seen as a failure by millions of football fans must have been an enormous burden to carry.
But it’s a lesson to every athlete, “Never give up, work hard, and always strive to succeed.”
Passion and resilience can only be accompanied by commitment. What use is passion if you don’t act on it? And what’s the point of bouncing back when you just rest on your laurels? If passion is what gets athletes started on the game, then commitment is what keeps them going. Keeping committed is a show of discipline, focus, and drive, and is what separates the athletes from the amateurs.
One such athlete is Simona Halep. Currently, the number 3 seed for Wimbledon, the 23-year old Romanian drove the audience to their feet with her slow but steady rise to the top. In 2013, she had won 23 consecutive matches at non-majors during one stretch. She was the underdog, and because of this bout of wins, her ranking rose from No. 64 to No. 11 at the peak of 2014.
Her commitment to the game is what kept her going all these years, but it was her biggest commitment to date that led her to where she is now. At the ripe age of 17, Halep decided to go through breast reduction surgery. This took her from a 34DD to a more modest 34C. Before the operation, her chest made her uncomfortable and it also severely hampered her performance. But seeing her stellar performance today, it seems that her commitment to the game has paid off.
Indeed, she did whatever it took to succeed.
All of these athletes are just a few examples of what the right attitude can do for you and where it can take you. So are you going to let adversity get the best of you, or are you going to take it? —Rappler.com
Sports happen in moments, and every match is another opportunity for an athlete to redefine himself. An athlete will always take it. That is the message that adidas is conveying through their film series, Sports 15, which features a roster of top athletes including Damian Lillard, Gareth Bale, Simona Halep, as well as other renowned sportsmen. Join the conversation.