One of the main lessons I learnt as a top athlete was that nothing comes easily and if you want something badly enough, you will put in the effort to get it. I also learnt that in order to achieve my goals, I had to make big sacrifices. My mom always used to tell me, in order to achieve tomorrow what others won’t achieve, you have to be willing to put in the work today that others won’t put in.
Instant gratification does not happen with being a top athlete – it is a daily grind. I thought I knew what hard work was until I went to college in the USA. I got a massive shock to the system and realised I had no clue what training hard really meant. During this time, I also learnt how much capacity we have as individuals. We have massive capacity to push our bodies to places we did not realise they could be pushed too. We have massive capacity to be full time athletes and full time students at the same time. We have massive capacity to train 4-6 hours a day and still function. To reach our full capacity, one has to be willing to prepare, perform and sacrifice.
Sacrifice in sport can be different things for different people. For me I had to sacrifice being at home. In order for me to reach my full capacity I had to leave home, leave family and friends and move to a different country. I also had to sacrifice sleep and evening activities. I had to be on pool deck by 5am each morning. When living in Sydney, the pool was situated 40 minutes away from where we all lived which meant that the alarm would go off at 4am Monday to Friday. I would get to the pool by 5am and train till 7:30am and then hop in the car and get to work by 9am. I would work all day and then head to the local pool for evening club training which would finish around 8pm, only to head home, eat dinner and go to sleep. Weekends in season meant playing games, so going out partying had to take a back seat. I had purpose and with purpose came passion. Passion and purpose take you to places that other people are not willing to go but it comes at a cost of not enjoying all the things you may want to enjoy.
One of the things I have noticed with this new generation of athletes is that they want to get to the end goal without putting in the work or making the sacrifices. Athletes want to be the best, win tournaments or make national teams but are only willing to do the bare minimum in order to get there. I hear athletes saying they need more balance or they constantly asking how much time is left of the practice. Talent can only take you so far and then hard work carries you the rest of the way. There are no shortcuts to success and if you want something badly enough, you will stay on the field or in the pool longer to get some extra practice, you will find ways to get in extra sessions and you will sacrifice weekends to work toward your goal.
“FOR WHAT IS EACH DAY BUT A SERIES OF CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE RIGHT WAY AND THE EASY WAY”