After a long wait and a lot of uncertainty, the Olympic games have finally commenced. For the athletes that have made it, this is their chance to fulfil a lifelong dream. All the training and sacrifice has brought them to this point where they will be tested against the best in the world. There will be many competitors that are happy just to be there and beat their own personal best whilst there are some medal hopefuls for whom the pressure is great.
For me, the opening ceremony was moving as I thought about the dreams of all these athletes. Timing is critical and with an extra year to wait after the games were postponed in 2020 due to Covid, there must have been some who wondered if they would make it. Indeed, sadly, some have had their hopes dashed as they failed to qualify, found themselves injured or been prevented from travelling as a result of Covid.
One achievement that has shone through in the early days of these games is that of Tom Daley who many of us have been rooting for over the last 20 years. He was 14 when he went to his first Olympics and we have watched him grow up with Team GB.
Tipped for success from the beginning, the main prize has stayed just out of reach. Securing his second bronze medal in Rio, Tom told journalists he was ‘heartbroken’ and would be at Tokyo for a fourth attempt. The journalist very insightfully responded that it would make for a better story in the long term.
On Monday, Tom won his first gold medal alongside his diving partner, Matty Lee. Tom’s story confirms what I have always believed:
If you want something badly enough and are willing to work hard for it every day, it will be yours.
After the games in Rio, Tom kept hold of his dream, focused on training and technique and achieved that long sought after gold medal in Tokyo. We have seen him deal with many challenges throughout his journey and I certainly am so inspired by the resilience, grit and determination that has led him to this point.
Of course, Tom isn’t the only one celebrating at the games so far and many are hoping that their efforts will inspire others to achieve their own goals, sporting or otherwise. In an interview with the BBC yesterday, another gold medallist, Adam Peaty said:
“If there is one thing you do today, just do one thing better.”
Their achievements may be personal but their legacy is universal. Each of these athletes have made huge sacrifices to reach the games and their families the same. They all have a unique story but it is ultimately about challenge and achievement. We can all learn something from their efforts and the questions is… where will your journey take you?
Have you been inspired by our Olympic champions? Have you taken something valuable from watching them compete? Share your thoughts in the comments below.