Winning Olympian Athletes: How Are They Different From Us?

September 12, 2016
Matthew Cho YISS High School 11th Grade

Matthew Cho
YISS High School 11th Grade

It seems that athletes who participate in the Olympics all have reached a certain level of superhuman physical and mental toughness that, for a long time, could only be described as “talent.” Often, it would seem that they simply had a knack for what they did. However, new research shows that there are a wide variety of variables that seem to set the Olympian apart from the average athlete. While good genes and a mental fortitude seem to be important as well, what often makes the difference between the layman and the medal-winner is a critical turning point in the athlete’ s life and their attitudes towards sport.

Many elite athletes possess an often unhappy critical turning point in their lives such as their parents’ divorce, death, or other losses earlier in their lives that allowed them to re- double their efforts in their sport. Although this event may be positive, they nevertheless possessed a turning point in their careers that greatly influenced them to focus even harder on their sport. It seems that a certain mixture of desperation and the drive to do whatever it takes to win is essential to becoming successful athletes. Of course, this doesn’ t mean that anyone should try to create artificial traumatic experiences in the life of a budding athlete to push them to try harder. Instead, scouts looking for promising athletes could see if their candidate has had some hard times along the way.

Top athletes also seem to possess personality traits such as selfishness and an obsessive desire to win. Although there has not been substantial research in the area yet, Christian Swann, a sports psychologist of the University of Wollongong in Australia, found other traits such as“confidence, competitiveness, adaptive perfectionism (a perfectionism that relishes achievement while tolerating mistakes and avoiding self-criticism), optimism and mental toughness.” However, what separated the elite athletes from the super- elites was that while the elites would put greater value on beating opponents, the super elites would put equal value into beating themselves by doing better than last time. This way, they could improve each and every time, no matter what opponents they faced.

The difference between medal-winning Olympic super- elites and everyone else seems to extend from their turning points and their personalities and attitudes towards sport.

However, the applicability of this information is not limited to sport. For example, whenever you compete, study, or play an instrument, you could try to focus on improving yourself each time instead of focusing on beating others. You might not succeed every time, but everyone has to start somewhere.



  1. greathat

    December 9, 2016 at 8:11 PM

    Absolutely right,the people have physical and mental strength for participating the work is important for participating the games.everyone have good strength to participating the games.this site give an important information.i really like the information.

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