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7 Things We Can Learn From Olympic Athletes

I live for moments like the Summer Olympics, when millions can just revel in the inspiration set forth by the athletes that have trained all their lives for this competition. This year I watched the trials with my children and not only enjoyed them, but I realized how much we can all learn from these amazing men and women (many of whom are actually teens).

Aside from being glued to the TV set during the almost all the U.S. Olympic trials, I was fortunate enough to be able to interview three Olympic medalists: Steven López (Taekwondo 2000 and 2004 Olympic Gold medalist and a 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist), Henry Cejudo (Wrestling 2008 Olympic Gold medalist) and Diana López (Taekwondo 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist).

Not only do they inspire you. Just by looking at other athletes you can learn so much. When Nastia Liukin fell literally flat on her face I wanted to cry, but when she got up and received a standing ovation, I realized that’s something we should all do.

Here are the seven lessons we can all learn from Olympic athletes:

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  • You lose only when you give up. 1 of 7
    You lose only when you give up.
    Olympic athletes are not only at the top of their game physically. Emotionally, they know they have to persist, get past barriers and keep fighting for their dreams. Gymnast McKayla Maroney fell on June 10th during the Visa Championships, had a concussion and a broken nose just weeks before the trials. The 16 year old is now in London and is a top contender for the gold medal for vault, because she refused to give up.
  • No matter how hard the fall, you can get up. 2 of 7
    No matter how hard the fall, you can get up.
    When Nastia Liukin fell literally flat on her face at this year's gymnastics trials, she could have burst into tears, called a paramedic, or simply walked off the mat. Instead, she got up, dusted her hands once again and resumed her routine. She might have lost a spot on the 2012 Gymnastics Olympic Team, but she got a standing ovation and kept her dignity throughout.
  • It doesn’t matter where you started. 3 of 7
    It doesn't matter where you started.
    All that matters is what you do with your life. Your actions determine where you end up. So many athletes are living proof that no matter how difficult their childhoods, they went against the odds and have excelled on their own. Henry Cejudo's mom worked two or even three jobs to put food on the table for her seven children.
  • Competition is not a dirty word. 4 of 7
    Competition is not a dirty word.
    Not only can it push you to be better, it can inspire you to do more and achieve what others thought was impossible. Not only can you see it in gymnastics, but also in the swimming competitions. Watching Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte race against each other is awe-inspiring every single time and I'm sure it pushes them to swim as fast as they can humanly can. Photo: Facebook.com/USAswimming Official Fan Page
  • Its not about money. 5 of 7
    Its not about money.
    It's about perseverance. None of the Olympic athletes I have had the privilege of meeting came from wealthy families. Far from it, actually. However, they found ways to train and used their creativity and hard work to fund their equipment and lessons. Wrestler Henry Cejudo even wore a rubber chicken costume in 115-degree weather to earn the money to attend tournaments.
  • Parents matter. 6 of 7
    Parents matter.
    The athletes I have interviewed all have strong mothers that believed in their children and supported them. Other Olympians have had a family member coach them since they were young, such as the López siblings. This applies to all facets of life, so make sure to show your child you believe in them and that you support their quest. Be involved, especially in his or her education.
  • It all starts with a dream. 7 of 7
    It all starts with a dream.
    Both Steven López and Henry Cejudo stressed this to me over and over again. And the truth is, if you can't dream, there's no way you'll achieve it.

Good luck to the amazing and inspiring athletes that will be showing their sportsmanship, resilience and talent during the 2012 London Olympics!

Photos: The Official Henry Cejudo Fan Page, The Official USA Swimming Fan Page, Jeannette Kaplun.

 

Read Jeannette´s blog in Spanish and find more of her writing on Todobebé. You can also watch her on the Viva la Familia TV show on Univision.

And reach out to her on Twitter and Facebook. She loves it!

 

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