The life of an athlete, especially when competing on the international stage, consists of training for fifty-one weeks a year just to be ready for that one moment – be it a ten-second race, a multi-match tournament or maybe even focusing on one single exercise. When the fateful moment arrives, all of the athlete´s previous work as well as that of the whole team will or won´t be recognized by various companies and institutions in the form of scholarships and sponsorship which are necessary to survive. His hours of dedication and training will be public for all to see – fans, up and coming amateur athletes, judges and major athletes in his event. Indeed, anyone related to the field of athletics as well as spectators and members of the public.
Unfortunately, most people only see that final and sweetest moment – the championship, the great moment where one puts on his country´s colours and competes with the very best from all over the world. In our modern world where we always want instant gratification, this appetite for immediate results in the world of sport is becoming all too common. We only want to see the final stage of the journey. That moment where the athletes take centre stage and his team of coaches, doctors, psychologists, physios and managers are out of the picture somewhere in the background. This obsession with “immediacy” means exclusivity. We only want to know who the best is and to see them perform. We have no interest in the lead up to the moment. No interest in the path the athlete has followed to become the best. Hard work and effort does not sell! Effort means perseverance. We don´t like to think that the sportsman playing a two-hour match or taking part in an eleven second race has pushed his body and mind to the limit for countless hours, sacrificing everything for days, weeks, months and years. These periods of sheer hard work is not fast enough for our children and young people. What they want to see is the moment of glory – the medals.
We work many hours a day for many years to achieve that moment of glory, knowing full well that it is never guaranteed. We dedicate our body, health, training, money and above all, our time, to achieve our goals. Time being the most precious asset because once we give it up, we can never get it back and none of us know how much time we will be allotted on this earth. So, why do we do it? Why devote everything we´ve got for years, risking almost everything for something that only a very few will ever manage to achieve?
The answer is simple. To know that we have given it our all to be the very best we can possibly be. Personally I have had the honour of competing in two finals in the Paralympic Games in London 2012. I´ve also competed in the finals of several world championships and have won several medals in the European championships. However, without a doubt, the best moment for me is when I cross the finish line and I know that I could not have done any better. All of the work has paid off and I have given it my all. I have overcome everything and that hard work has brought out the best in me. That is an indescribable feeling.
And the hope of feeling that again is what makes me train every day.