I’m currently coaching a student at OCVC to help him with his exams, more-so with his motivation than with course material. So thought I’d pen this down into a blog post, for other students to gain some inspiration too. Where better to find inspiration than from some of our national heroes? British sports fans will always remember ‘Super Saturday’ at the London 2012 Olympics where the Athletics program began with a rush of Gold Medals. Jessica Ennis’ Heptathlon Gold and Mo Farah’s in the 10,000m (which he repeated later in the 5,000m) were feats of endurance and the result of incredible perseverance. Ennis and Farah never gave up. If you’re a student who feels like you’ve been up against it then ponder what these two overcame.
Farah’s journey to double gold was long. He was winning at senior-level long before 2012 but making a breakthrough was a long way off. Nothing exemplified his struggle more than the 2008 Beijing Olympics where Farah could not qualify for the 5,000m final. He left the track dejected.
Ennis burst onto the scene at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, grabbing Bronze behind Britain’s Kelly Sotherton. She seemed a future champion. But in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics she also suffered Beijing heartbreak – not even reaching the event as a she broke a metatarsal in her right foot and spent 12 months out of competition.
As Farah and Ennis crossed the lines on that famous Saturday both realized the lengths to which they had had to go to overcome adversity and shed tears of joy and relief at their wins. Farah and Ennis have much to teach us. But these two give three valuable lessons which every student can learn from.
1. Never give up.
These two champions didn’t let go of their dreams of Olympic glory. Farah had to battle with a skilled generation of African athletes and a series of disappointments. He could only get so far. Ennis had to battle with the disappointment of serious injury. Ruled out months before Beijing she knew she’d have to wait another four years for her chance.
2. Be willing to adapt.
Both changed things to make an impact. Farah moved his training base to Oregon in 2011 and linked up with coach Alberto Salazar. His World and then Olympic triumphs owe much to that move. Ennis’ adaptation was more physical. Her foot injury was so severe she had to change her lead-off foot for the Long Jump, one of her seven Heptathlon events. Her Olympic jump of 6.48m scored heavily and was only 3cm off her personal best.
3. Stay calm.
Ennis and Farah’s wins oozed maximum effort with incredible control. They stayed calm. Ennis headed into the final 800m event knowing what she needed to do yet strode out calmly, always watchful of the opposition. Farah’s longer events needed tactics and calmness and other athletes jostled for position. Farah strode out on the final lap keeping everyone behind him and even as it seemed others would come past him kicked again and stayed clear.
The task of the student is never easy. There are many reasons to give up, many arguments to stay as you are, and many opportunities to panic. Farah and Ennis teach us that all this can be overcome. Keep going.