Staring in awe at the London 2012 Olympic gold and silver medallists at a function recently, I was struck by the fact that they are just ordinary people with an extraordinary drive and passion for their sport.
In between my bacon and eggs and the hundreds of other people who had arrived to catch a glimpse of the heroes, I whipped out my blog book *nerd alert* and took notes as the MC was interviewing them.
In front of me sat Cameron van der Burgh, Chad Le Clos, Caster Semenya and the four rowers John Smith, Matthew Brittan, Sizwe Ndlovu and James Thompson. Here are some of my favourite snippets I managed to write down:
Each and every one of them had that one person in their lives who believed in them. For Caster it was Maria Motola, for Chad, his dad Bert, for rower Sizwe Ndlovu, his headmaster. It’s that one person who never gave up on them and believed in them to the end. It’s important in life to find that person who sees your talent, sees your potential and is with you right until the end.
The sacrifices made are enormous! They are not normal people with normal 9 – 5 lives. They have to watch what they eat and drink, especially the four rowers who needed to ensure they remained at the lightweight under 70kgs level or else they would be disqualified. There is no time for dating, for partying, for holidays or even spending quality time with loved ones. You cannot let your guard down because youngsters are watching you as role models. There is a lot of pressure.
The medallists trained every single day, 7 days a week with every 5th Sunday off. 48 weeks of the year, going full ball and flat out. Most of their days involve training twice a day with gym workouts in-between and physio or yoga or pilates squeezed in there somewhere too. In the words of the rower John Smith, “We trained like slaves but raced like kings”. *This oke was my fav!* After 4 years of hard, dedicated training, it’s all over in a matter of seconds. If you don’t get your medal, it all starts over again.
Best of all is when each of them were asked what they did in their spare time, they all said one thing: Sleep! I guess at least I have one thing in common with them.