Tuesday, August 7, 2012

29. Competition

As I nurture my gratitude for competition, I realize this has probably been a long time coming, although it took me the London 2012 Olympics and a great athlete like Michael Phelps to do so (Congratulations on your 22th medal, wow!) Growing up, I've had quite a negative experience with competition, not in an athletic context, but more in an academic context. I got to see how adults would sometimes act worse than children, perhaps out of resentment, jealousy, ego...I've experienced friends sabotaging me, and not knowing who to trust in the name of competition. And of course, to be at the top of one's game,  one has to sacrifice and make lots of compromises, which is probably harder to do in one's childhood and teens than as an adult.

Watching athletes compete in the Olympics has made me realize how competition can be a great motivator, despite all the challenges, struggles, sacrifices, and ugliness that might come with it. I can't help but wonder how many athletes Michael Phelps, the great swimmer and Olympian, inspired to be stronger, faster, better at what they do, in particular swimming. When the training got tough for these world-class swimmers, they probably thought of this great champion for inspiration. Those swimmers who wanted Olympic gold knew they had to beat Michael's record, and in order to do that, they had to swim harder, faster. Plus, imagine how these swimmers are feeling now, as they're winning gold at the London  Olympics. Maybe there is some truth to victory being that much sweeter when it's harder to accomplish. For me, it's nice to think of competition in a positive light, especially after so many years of seeing it as something negative...and it's also nice to gain some inspiration to make physical activity a priority in my life. After all, if athletes can train for five hours a day, six days a week, then surely the average person can chip in an hour a day (or every other day) in the name of physical and emotional health.

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