As the Olympic Games are in full-swing, they are a significant reminder of power, perseverance, and strength that is embodied in the world’s greatest athletes. Beyond the physical strength illustrated in the games, however, is a mental strength instilled in each and every athlete competing, as well as a lifetime of lessons each athlete has learned while on his or her path to success. These lessons learned are a testament to how an athlete’s training goes beyond the walls of his or her training facility and resonates in their personal lives as well.
Beyond the athleticism and strength held by Nastia Liukin is perseverance and a mindset that allows the gymnast to succeed in all paths of life. As a member of the 2008 Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team, Nastia Liukin proved herself as one of the world’s best gymnasts as she led her team to victory in Beijing and went on to win the individual all-around gold metal. A new standard was set for what an Olympic gymnast should be as she paved the way for other gymnasts to follow. However, as the gymnast entered into the 2012 Olympic Trials hoping to earn a spot on the Olympic Team once again, she faced failure that caused her dream of making the Olympic team for a second time to end.
It was the final move in Nastia’s uneven bar routine that brought her dream of making the 2012 Olympic Team to an end, as well as her chance to defend her title as the world’s best gymnast. Transitioning from one bar to the next in her uneven bar routine, Nastia missed the bar and fell straight to the floor, landing on her face. With her mind racing and a crowd of people who supported her watching her take her next move, Nastia did the only thing she would ever think of doing: get back up and keep going. While it may have been easy to feel defeated, Nastia Liukin knew what she came to the Olympic Trials to do: give it her all and leave everything out on the floor. Allowing her the strength to keep going after her fall was a mantra she kept safe in her head: “Never quit on a bad day.” As an Olympic gymnast, Nastia understood that quitting would not be the acceptable choice; she was where she was because she never quit. In all of her moments of success and in all of her moments of failure, it was perseverance that guided her. The mantra “never quit on a bad day” gave Nastia’s hard work and perseverance something more than a judge’s performance score.
It’s not about what an end result looks like, but rather the strength it takes to make it to the end.
Nastia Liukin translated the lessons learned in the gym to her life outside of being a professional athlete. “Never quit on a bad day” ignites a fire for Nastia to look past any temporary difficulties and look forward to the bigger picture: working to be her best, always. Through this mantra and her reflecting actions, Nastia taught us that it’s not about what an end result looks like, but rather the strength it takes to make it to the end. To stay focused and not allow a bad day to throw us off of our course is how one becomes successful in anything he or she does.
As for Nastia, she finished her competitive career with five Olympic medals and nine World medals, the second highest total of any U.S. gymnast. These days she is dividing her time between her NBC job as a special correspondent (you can watch her live coverage of the gymnastics events throughout Rio!), modeling for BCBG/Max Azria, and developing a series of entrepreneurial endeavors and partnerships.
As another Olympic Games kicks off, a lesson of perseverance can be remembered by Olympians and non-Olympians alike. Nastia Liukin defines what it means to be an Olympic athlete as she not only illustrated strength in her sport but strength in spirit and mind as well. To never quit on a bad day means to engage in the reasons why the path began, and take hold of where the path may lead.
Photo source: Women’s Sports Foundation