As athletes, both young and old, there are always going to be people we aspire to be like. Whether they are professional athletes, or the first PE teacher we had at school, at some point we wanted to be like someone else. There’s no denying we need this in our lives, as it is the people we look up to that give us guidance. However, we are asked questions such as... ‘who do you want to be when you grow up?’ at school, suggesting we’re sort of expected to want to grow up to become someone other than ourselves.
Growing up, there were many well-known athletes, such as Paula Radcliffe and Jessica Ennis, who I aspired to be like. The amount they inspired me was phenomenal. I would even go as far as saying, if I hadn’t seen them perform on the television or read about their achievements, I wouldn’t have been inspired to embark on my own athletic journey to the same extent. My love for running was 100% down to the immediate people around me from a young age who loved the sport, but my ambition to take it to a more competitive level came from these world class athletes.
However, whilst I still find such figures extremely inspiring and motivating, it isn’t necessarily the desire to be like them that drives me. It once was, but now it isn’t. Instead of aspiring to be like a certain individual, I aspire to achieve things similar to them or to withstand the testing aspects of sport, like I now know they would’ve had to.
When I watch events such as the Olympics or the World Championships, it now gives me a different aspirational feeling. The people I watch inspire me, but specifically, it is watching them perform at such a high level, knowing the ups and downs they have endured, that I continue to aspire to echo. Something that I didn’t know when I was younger, was the lack of linearity to any sports person’s journey. Watching high class athletes on the television reminds me to never give up. Whilst I don’t want to be exactly like them, because we are all our own unique selves, watching them reinforces the fact that if you don’t give up on your dreams and ambitions, and you ride the ups and downs, you may end up in a similar position to them! You never know unless you try!
Stick with it.
I ultimately aspire to see my journey through to the point where I know I have given my all and there is nothing more I can do. This is why it is so great to see such inspirational athletes compete, because it reminds you of what can be achieved with determination, dedication and persistence.
Perhaps, when you are younger, and you aren’t told about the ups and downs of sport, and you only see the impressive end results, you do wish you were like that individual, because you aren’t aware of the journey behind what you see on the screen. I know that each individual experiences a different journey and this reminds me that I don’t want to be like any of them, in fact, I want to be myself, on my own journey. I want to reflect the determination those high class athletes had, but I don’t want to be exactly like them.
I am on my own journey, and that is what makes me, and you, unique. That is what makes every story all the more interesting, because they are different. Our achievements will never be exactly the same as someone else’s.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!