Being the wrong side of twenty one, my sports role models may not be familiar to all of you reading this; but you can probably identify with the feelings of intense admiration, respect and motivation that a sports role model can inspire.
Sports role models can potentially bring out numerous positive traits of a human’s character. For young people these sporting heroes can be extremely motivating and be the perfect influence for a young developing mind and body to grasp life in a positive, determined way.
No-one needs to state the obvious about how these days good role models from any walk of life are needed more than ever, but of course sports role models encourage fitness as well as positive character traits.
With obesity in adults having doubled in the UK since the mid 1980s, and a report in the Daily Telegraph pointing out that overweight parents are helping the cycle repeat by over feeding their children, sports role models are more necessary than ever.
One of my sports role models was Nadia Comaneci, who was the gymnast who won three Olympic gold medals in the 1976 Olympics and 2 gold medals in the 1980 Olympics. Not only did she win these five Olympic gold medals but she was the first gymnast ever to be awarded the perfect score of 10 in the Olympics. Perfection, a hard act to follow, but very inspirational!
She inspired me to train six days a week under a tough trainer. When she was on TV, I used to absorb her every move and analyse why the judges gave her certain scores, so that I could learn something each time.
My other sports role model was Bjorn Borg and by watching both him and Nadia Comaneci, I learnt a lot about mental strength, discipline, determination, technique, persistence and passion. I won some medals in both sports but what has been far more important is the character practices that I gained from those years of training and participating.
The sport is not important, what is important is encouraging young people to enjoy some sport and build positive character traits. If a young person goes on to be excellent in their sport, this is wonderful but the most vital issue is the encouragement and motivation for life that they can learn from the right model.
Let’s look at women’s football, for example, which is turning pro in Great Britain-this is a great example of persistence against the odds. Women footballers have put up with 90 years of condescension before finally beginning to receive some of the acclaim that they deserve.
After their 5-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid Feminas, the Liverpool Ladies FC team are sitting in a bar in Spain. Do we see them drowning their sorrows? No, they are dissecting the match and excited about the positive future of women’s football. In fact the entire team know that for them to reach the heights of their sport, they have had to stay in while their non-football friends go out partying!