A Games that Lasts

I think nearly everyone, from what I can gather, enjoyed the Olympic period to some degree. Maybe you were cramming every available second with coverage from every available source, or just caught a gold medal or two on tv in the pub. You may have braved the crowds and queued all morning for a split-second glimpse of our cyclists or runners, or been lucky enough to get tickets to spend a few action-packed hours at the park yourself. You may even have been working for it, long tedious hours in all weathers, but a glimpse of an athlete or the ear-splitting cheers of the crowd made it all worthwhile. However you spent the Olympics, now the parties are over and the rain is once again pouring down, your life may suddenly seem a whole lot emptier without it. Don’t leave it to the Government to give Great Britain an Olympic legacy, here’s how to make the Games spirit last in your life, yourself:

BE AN ATHLETE

Watching the astonishing victories of the athletes, you may suddenly have decided that an athlete is exactly what you want to be. This may, or may not be possible… but the best way to find out is to get up and go and try it! If exercise is something you aren’t used to, go gently at first and pace yourself. Put on some trainers and run round the park and back. Even if you only get to the gates, it is still a victory! and gives you a bench-mark from which to work. If you already are reasonably fit, use what you have seen as inspiration to try something new.

“Use this fresh inspiration to set yourself new targets”

Something adventurous and out of your comfort zone, like canoeing, or something unusual like taquando, or maybe get back into a sport you remember from school, you haven’t played in years, like hockey . You could also use this fresh inspiration to set yourself new targets in what you already do. If you already go running for 30mins a day for example, push it to 35 or try a more challenging track. If you play football in the park occasionally  why not try and organise a five-a-side? Keep active and keep busy and you won’t be missing the sport on tv, or the good feeling from GB’s achievements, you’ll be doing it yourself.

THINK LIKE AN ATHLETE

Any athlete will tell you that their achievements aren’t all down to being physically fit, to be ‘mentally fit’ is just as important. Self belief, motivation, determination and a strong, positive attitude are all essentials to success, not just in sport but in whatever you do in life. Use the athletes as inspiration to improve the way you view your goals and challanges. Michael Jordan for example has explained during the coverage his use of visualisation techniques. Before going out on the track, he would visualise himself executing a faultless performance  focusing clearly on the environment he would be performing in, on his goal of winning the race and clearly and precisely on each element he needed to achieve this.

“Stay positive and be ready for anything!”

Another technique he advocates is self-talk. This involves telling yourself over and over, out loud or in your head, what you will to do to achieve your goal. Both these techniques boost your confidence and prepare you mentally for performance. You could also look to the lives of the athletes for inspiration. It has been widely publicised that our GB diver Tom Daley, just 18, lost his number one supporter, his father, to cancer just weeks before the Olympics but yet still went on to win a medal. The medal in itself is of course a tremendous achievement but to have won it in the wake of such a tragic blow, makes it an even greater one. It is an example to us that we can also carry on through hard times, one of many inspirational stories in the lives of the Olympians. Follow their example, stay positive and be ready for anything!

SUPPORT AN ATHLETE

If that all sounds too much like hard work, you may find more happiness with both feet firmly on the ground, as a spectator. A lot of people who don’t normally watch sport found themselves hooked on the Olympics but there is plenty more out there to see, live and on the tv. Try finding out what goes on in your area, you might be surprised by the variety available. Find out about and support local teams to get some community spirit, or pick a sport and follow it’s tournaments around the world!

“There is plenty more out there to see”

Maybe it’s not so much the sport but the sense of being part of something that has made your Olympics, the shared experience of being part of a crowd at a live event, in which case there is a great deal open to you. Events are still taking place in parks across the country all Summer, and are increasing in size and variety year on year. Some will be converted into ‘drive-in’ style cinemas, but minus the cars, where you can take a blanket and a picnic and enjoy a film in the Summer air. Others are staging theatre productions or other performances for you to get involved in, and some are even free so you have no excuse for staying in alone this Summer! Also, don’t forget there’s the Paralympics still to come, get some seats or take to the streets for another two weeks of celebrating!

INSPIRE AN ATHLETE

The most fulfilling way to keep up the Olympic spirit is of course not to help yourself, but to help others. To “Inspire a Generation”, the motto of our Olympic Games, by keeping the legacy alive. Volunteering perhaps as a referee or couch at a local sports club, or donating some money or equipment if you have less time on your hands. If you have, or know any children yourself, spend some time getting them into sport. With some impromptu football lessons or just a run round the park, you could have a future Olympian on your hands!

“Could you get behind one of them?”

There are also movements starting in light of the Olympics to improve various aspects of sport in this country. From more pitches to more opportunities for young people, there are many causes out there to get involved with supporting. There are quite a few new sports being considered for the Olympics, could you get behind one of them? Or improving the prominence of women’s sport is a cause that is gaining momentum, more publicity of women’s matches for example and more team opportunities.

The most important thing to take away from the Olympics is that in a team or as an individual, for yourself or for others, and in whatever capacity, you can achieve your goals. Remember, it may take a long time, like being an athlete which takes years of hard work, self-sacrifice and dedication but you can make that first step of progress today!


01-07-2012. Photo credit CJ Bulford, all rights reserved.

01-07-2012. Photo credit CJ Bulford, all rights reserved.

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