What Makes a Champion? An Inside Look at the Top 5 Athletes of All Time* Part – 2
* This is a summarized version. If you need more details about this topic, please download the MP3 file, from the store section.
1-Who is Michael Phelps?
He was one of the winners of the Laureus Exceptional Achievement Award. He was also chosen in 2012 as the year’s Top Male athlete by The Advocate.
He was the most decorated champion in Olympic history. He was the only person (male or female) to win a total of 22 Olympic medals, among which are 18 gold medals.
He also broke 39 World Records. He was the Most Prolific Olympic Swimmer of All Time.
As a Kid…
When Michael Phelps was 7 years old, he was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. When he was 10 years old, he watched his sister Whitney tried out for the Olympic Team. She did not make it and it was Michael who cried, not her. That very day, it was imprinted in his mind that he wanted to be the best swimmer ever, the one who loses to no one.
Swimming coach Bob Bowman was looking for someone he would train for the upcoming 2004 Olympic games in Athens, and Michael caught his eye. Then, he persuaded Michael’s mom, Debbie, and she agreed.
His trainer and his mom would help him create his plan for success. They guided him throughout the process. They supported him and encouraged him to achieve his goals.
And this was how Michael learned how to set up his goals.
Until now, Michael would write his goals once or twice a year. He would even include those he wanted to achieve for the next few years. He would write it down on a piece of paper. And from time to time, he would look at this paper when he needed motivation to remind him where he wants to go and what he needs to do to get there…
When He’s Feeling Lazy…
He got the list of his goals placed near his bed. When he feels like he’s not in the mood to practice, he would take a look at this single piece of paper. And this was not just a paper. It was his prescription against laziness. It reminded him why he needed to get up.
He Sees it Coming…
So, what was the reason he needed to get up?
He had this vision of himself standing among these champions. He had these beautiful gold medals wrapped around his neck and everyone was anxious to get a glimpse of him.
He felt he was already there.
This made him get up from his bed because he knew this would never happen if he stayed there.
Can’t Stand to Lose…
Michael admitted he hated to lose “If I lose, I work even harder to get back so it doesn’t happen again.”
The Comeback Prince…
Michael had always been behind from all his races, as his mother Debbie would recall. But he would always make a comeback from behind and win the race. He had this surge of energy and very strong will that enabled him to do it again and again.
He had complete confidence in himself along with unusual determination.
2-Who is Roger Federer?
He was one of the “Top Ten Power Players of the World” by Sports Illustrated, the “Greatest Hitter” by Time Magazine, and the “Second-Most-Respectable Man in the World” by Reputation Institute.
He was the only male tennis player to ever achieve a total of 17 Grand Slam Singles Title, making him the greatest Grand Slam Champion in Men’s Tennis.
He also has defended his title as the world’s number 1 for most consecutive weeks. He simply broke many tennis records.
The Little Devil…
The young Roger used to be impulsive, ambitious and a difficult child. He was very aggressive when it comes to matches. He always wanted to be the best. He really hated defeats. In most of his matches, he would scream out “lucky shot” when his opponent got a good shot. There were times when he lost a match, he would be found crying under the umpire’s chair and needed to be coaxed out of it.
One Step at a Time…
The young Roger enjoyed many types of sport as a child. But he decided to concentrate on tennis. He got his eyes on being the best tennis player in the world. He once boasted that he will win Wimbledon someday. People just laughed at the youngster.
When he was 15, he won the Swiss National 18-and-under Championship. When he turned sixteen, he began competing in world tournaments. He started with Rank No. 804, then 704, 301, 200….. He just kept on practicing even harder than before to get closer to what he was dreaming of.
By the time he was 22 years old, he became the No. 1 in the world. He was successful in reaching his dream; in fact, he maintained his position for 237 consecutive weeks.
For almost 3 years, Roger was beyond competition. And suddenly, his nemesis Rafael Nadal came out of nowhere and threatened to take his place. Nadal even won Wimbledon and took number 1 ranking out of Roger.
The Challenger This Time Around…
Though Roger was disappointed about his match’s outcome and was surrounded by people doubting his abilities, he did not fall to the feelings of despair and doom.
Then Roger came back to compete in another Wimbledon Championship, this time as a challenger. This time around he was aggressive enough. He won every match in this tournament. Then he went to play with his final opponent. The match was a tight one. The gap in their scores was so close. It was a long match. This time, Roger believed he can win it. He won another Men’s Grand Slam. He regained number one ranking in 2012, for a short time. He won his 17th Grand slam during a time when no one expected him to win. It seems he won against all odds.
He is no longer number one in the world, but in the eyes of many tennis experts, he is the best tennis player of all time.
3-Who is Tiger Woods?
He was described in 2006 as the Year’s Top Male Athlete by The Advocate.
Tiger Woods had a been ten times the PGA Player of the Year, ten times the PGA Tour Player of the Year, nine times the PGA Tour Money Leader, eight times winner of Vardon Trophy, and nine times recipient of Byron Nelson Award. At age 37 now, no one has won as many tournaments as he did at this age. Although Jack Nicklaus has won more majors, the statistics and his relative age show that Tiger is the best golfer ever. Many critics are convinced that Tiger Woods is the best golf player of all time. He is by far number one golfer of all time in prize money.
His Trainer, Coach, and Best Friend…
Earl Woods, Tiger’s dad brought him to the golf course. They would go there and have fun just like any father and son having their bonding.
He also trained Tiger how to focus. His dad would deliberately distract Tiger during practices and this helped Tiger to keep his concentration very high during tournaments.
In addition, Earl also trained his son to aim for success. He would give the child motivational videos to watch. By the time Tiger was 13 years old, his dad introduced him to a family friend doctor to begin his mental training. And he learned how to keep his demeanors and his negative thoughts deeply sealed inside him.
His Experience as a Black Man…
As a child Tiger was aware that he was different from the others. Their family was the only one having their “color” in the neighborhood. As a pre-schooler, he experienced bullying like being tied to a tree. Discrimination was everywhere and golf courses were no exception. During his teenage years, and whenever his father was not around, some whites came to him and told him he was not supposed to be there. They said America would not accept the black golfer.
Tiger and his family used to receive death threat letters and calls. But he and his family remained strong. Tiger was not weakened by it.
Everybody thought Tiger was a genius, gifted and great. He said he wouldn’t look at himself as great. He was not complacent about his performance. He thought there was still room for improvements for him.
Every day, he would wake up at 5 in the morning and hit thousands of balls. Thrice a week, he would work with his swing instructor on his mechanics. Twice a week, he would visit his psychology coach to work on his mental toughness. And he improved his strokes twice a year. He was aiming for perfection.
He Knew Where He Was Going…
When Tiger was asked what course he would take up in college he answered Accounting. He envisioned himself winning many tournaments, and making good money out of Golf. He thought of taking accounting in order to better manage his finances in the future.
His Unique Attitude…
When some golfers were asked how they feel towards Tiger Woods, they said that his presence was intimidating. Tiger Woods was not really intimidating them. It’s just that he was full of confidence and this confidence was manifested in how he expresses himself.
In 1999, a reporter told Tiger that there is someone threatening to take away his titles. He said, “I think that would be great that someone will push me to make me even better.”
He was really competitive. And he viewed competition as a way to improve himself. He was not threatened but inspired by it.