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5 Inspiring Sports Mantras from Olympic Athletes

Find motivation in the words of some of the incredible women representing the United States at the Olympic Games in Rio.

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If you need an uplifting reminder of what can be achieved by the athletic body and human spirit, look no further than the events of the past week at the Olympics. Athletes continue to break records and and defy expectations (as well as gravity, it seems, in the case of gold-medal gymnast Simone Biles). Perhaps just as awe-inspiring as the sheer physicality on display is the steely will and focused determination that drives the competitors to perform at their peak when it matters most. While we may never fully grasp the physical and mental capabilities of these individuals, we have seen some glimpses of what makes them tick, including the following motivational mantras and sayings. Here are five standout sentiments recently shared by some top athletes, who all happen to be ridiculously inspirational women. Read on and remember these words the next time you need an extra shot of courage and strength.


“I got this.”

Moments before gymnast Laurie Hernandez mounted the balance beam in the women’s team competition, she can barely be seen whispering to herself, “I got this.” Clearly, this mental reminder provided the boost she needed—as if the spunky cat-eyed powerhouse ever had any doubt. Hernandez delivered a stellar performance to help the Final Five clinch gold in an 8.2-point margin over the Russian team, and we can’t wait to see what her killer confidence will bring in the individual competitions.


“Because I can.”

The next time someone questions why you’re putting in extra hours toward a goal when the odds are against you, channel cyclist Kristin Armstrong’s matter-of-fact response: “Because I can.” That’s what she had to say when faced questions about why she came out of retirement at age 42 to compete at an elite level once again despite several hip surgeries. Last week the Boise mom and hospital worker became the first cyclist—male or female—to win three consecutive golds in the same discipline, NPR reports. We couldn’t be more inspired.


“I’m the first Simone Biles.”

It’s tempting for the media to draw comparisons between rising stars entering the canon of history and other great athletes who have come before them. But doing so fails to fully acknowledge the unique contributions of up-and-coming men and women, especially the likes of an unparalleled talent like Simone Biles. In response to such comparisons, Biles said, “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.” While this may not be a mantra of hers per se, the sentiment is a reminder that your accomplishments are not anyone’s but your own, and you are an individual above all else.


“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.”

In an interview with Sonima.com, sprinter Allyson Felix cites the quote above by legendary runner Steve Prefontaine as her go-to mantra during training or competition. “It’s been really different this year, as I have been dealing with a pretty devastating injury. Mentally, I just try to be strong and rely on my love for the sport and know that the amount of work I’ve put in to this sport throughout my life will guide me,” she says.


These are not sacrifices, but investments.

Triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, who is favored to win gold on August 20, used to view things like giving up holidays with family and missing her best friend’s wedding as sacrifices. Fortunately her friends and family understand. “They know I’m investing in my future. And that’s something that [my coach] Jamie has taught me,” says Jorgensen. “They are not sacrifices, but investments. I truly believe that it will pay me back 10 fold.”


Related: 50 Innovators Shaping the Future of Wellness

 

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Sometimes it’s difficult to cultivate lucidity during troubling times. Patanjali Yoga Sūtras offers 4 practices to help keep the mind steady: 
Friendship, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity. 
These four practices are also praised in various Buddhist suttas.
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