Every time I watch those amazing Olympic competitions I think about how hard these young athletes train for their particular sport. They give up so much to be the best of the best and it is almost hard to imagine what they go through. The long hours training, living in different places to prepare various events, and the emotional grit is hard for most of us mortals to really fathom. However, this is what they dream about, this is what they live for, and this is what they love.
Even though Olympians must have mental toughness, most people believe it is not inborn, but instead developed over time. So, What’s the mindset of an Olympic champion? Ole Einar Bjørndalen was one of the oldest Olympians to ever win a medal. A retired Norwegian biathlete and 8-time gold medalist, he won 12 medals overall and is known as the Biathlon King. His mentality can be summed up by his sporting philosophy outlined in , his Sochi 2014 athlete bio, “grit your teeth and get the best out of yourself.”
He personifies the four major aspects to becoming an Olympic champion. They could be summarized as The 4 P’s - preparation, perseverance, passion and performing. Even if we applied just a little bit of these to our regular lives, it would surely make a difference in our success. Here is more on each one of these from an Olympic champion's perspective.
Bjørndalen committed to the highest level of preparation living at high elevations in Austria and Italy instead of his homeland Norway to prepare for the altitude at the Sochi biathlon venue, “I am in super form. I prepared well for this and I am feeling strong.”
What we can learn: There really is no substitute for preparation. Sometimes the winner is the one who is most prepared.
Despite a back injury, a divorce, and competition from younger Norwegian biathletes, Bjørndalen responded positively and regained his status as Norway’s No. 2 biathlete.
What we can learn: Life does not always go as planned. Overcome adversity by staying positive and pushing forward despite obstacles in your way.
Bjørndalen enjoys his sport despite the years of dedicated hard work, “You want to be the best in your sport. This sport has never been a job for me… always a hobby. I want to create my sport, always. So, yeah, I do like my sport.”
What we can learn: Remember to be in it for the right reasons and enjoy the ride along the way.
Bjørndalen’s success is not merely in his athletic skills but in his ability to adjust quickly. In Sochi, despite missing a shot and having to ski a 150-meter penalty loop, Bjørndalen forged forward to win the gold medal, “It was a huge mistake at the shooting. I decided to shoot faster afterward as I knew I would still have a chance to win it.”
What we can learn: Never let one mistake ruin your career. If you make a mistake, work harder and make up for it.