Learning from Star Athletes of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Over generations, the Olympics have demonstrated world-class performances from star athletes that have been awe-inspiring and serve as great motivation for us all. The year 2021 has been no different; we've seen some truly amazing athletic feats and performances.

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Over generations, the Olympics have demonstrated world-class performances from star athletes that have been awe-inspiring and serve as great motivation for us all. The year 2021 has been no different; we've seen some truly amazing athletic feats and performances. Thousands of athletes have given their all and outperformed themselves again and again. Captured below are some fantastic stories that we can take away from the Tokyo 2021 Olympics! 

Sifan Hassan – Triple Long Distance Medal Winner

When it comes to long-distance running, Hassan is second to none, making history by winning three medals in 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m. Her talent, determination and drive are what pushes her to the final line every time. In the 1500m heat, we saw something truly extraordinary. Hassan tripped over a fellow athlete, half-barrelled rolled but picked herself off and sprinted to the finish line from last to first instead of calling it quits. 

As students, we should learn from Sifan’s resilience and drive. We all can thrive and reach our goals; we need to stay focused and resilient when things get tough. By planning and putting in the work, we can balance the challenges during our studies and learn to face obstacles head-on.


Thomas Daley – Take a dive and try out knitting

Thomas is a star athlete achieving a Bronze Medal in Diving and a fantastic knitter. He has taken the internet by storm for being snapped sitting the stands with his knitting. Tom has used his athletic platform and knitting abilities to raise money for a brain cancer charity and showcases all his amazing knits and projects online.

No matter what knowledge or popularity you gain through your work, you will always have the choice to give back and create a space/platform to do good, just like Tom. While studying, consider using your skills and newfound knowledge to improve the community and do good. There are so many organisations that need your help! 
 

Neeraj Chopra – Gold Medal in Javelin

Neeraj was the first-ever Indian Athlete to win a Medal (and a GOLD medal) in athletics for javelin. The 23-year-old completed and achieved something that had not been done before. Even though the competition was intimidating, Neeraj went into the contest with poise, relied on his talent, and focused on his abilities. 

As a student, it is easy to feel intimidated by classmates who appear much more intelligent than us and always know the answers. We should take away from Neeraj that the only person we should be comparing ourselves to is ourselves. We need to aim to be better than our past selves to push ourselves further and achieve more.


Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi – The High Jump Gold Medallists

After a fight to make it to the final, they chose to share when faced with a Jump-off or sharing the Gold. These two demonstrate that being the “Best” is not always about being the best. Sure, they could have fought it out till the end to prove that one was better than the other, but they decided to take the win rather than risk it all.

As students, it’s easy to get distracted and focus on getting that A, but sometimes the process and the work that we put in is much more critical. Sometimes being our best means that we need to prioritise what is suitable for us and work smarter, not harder, to reach our goals.

Valerie Adams and Nick Willis – Success = Doing your best and being proud of yourself.

The OG Kiwi Olympians were back in 2021 Tokyo and delivered their best performances, yet again. Valerie was achieving a Bronze Medal, and Nick performed his Personal Best time! Genuine gold shines in attitude, personality, and pride. The joy on their faces says it all, and as New Zealand students and graduates, this golden attitude is something we should aspire to attain in our lives and career journeys.

Pride to represent our country, our families, ourselves, to be at university, or graduating university is an honour that we should consider at every step of our academic journeys. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are. We should make the most and learn the most during our short time here at university! 


Laurel Hubbard – NZ first trans athlete in Weightlifting

She didn’t qualify, but she was victorious! Laurel proved that against all odds, sticking with your gut and giving your all is worth the fight. She created a platform for Trans-athletes to come forward and share their stories. Not only was she competing with the weight she had to lift physically, but there was also a lot of emotional and mental weight that she carried with her.

Being in the spotlight is taxing, and as students, you will feel pressure to conform and perform according to other students and others expectations. It is only when we dare to do something different that we can learn and innovate new ideas. So, challenge the norms, present new beliefs and see where they take you.

Emma Twigg – Gold Medal in Single Scull Rowing

Tokyo 2021 was Emma’s fourth Olympics and 4th chance at securing that Gold Medal! Emma earned herself a silver medal in both London and Rio, so in Tokyo, she finally wanted to get that Gold, and she did. Up against some tough competition, Emma put in the work and delivered. She showcases that hard work, persistence and determination pay off and that we should all keep pushing and reaching for our goals to get that Gold!

Student life is unpredictable, but you will always have another chance to push yourself and improve yourself. The time and effort behind the scenes are what truly counts, and the more you put into your study, the better you’ll achieve when submitting your coursework and sitting tests. Do the Mahi, keep on grinding, and the treats will follow.


Simone Biles – Your Mental Health comes first.

While Simone didn’t compete in the Olympics, she knows first-hand the amount of pressure placed on athletes within the Olympic domain. We’ve included Simone Biles on the list to showcase that Mental Health is far more important than anything else going on in your life, even the Olympics! There will always be another competition and another platform to compete. Simone took this attitude with her as she stepped down from the Olympics.

Managing expectations can drain you physically and mentally, but it takes a strong person to acknowledge that and make an active decision to change that, like Simone. As students or newly graduates, there are many expectations placed on us, so make sure to take some time out to reflect and focus, ask for extensions, ask for support, and seek help if you need it.

The Japanese Rhythmic Gymnastics Team – There is no I in team.

I could have picked a team that won and got a medal in any team sport but being in a group means celebrating the highs and supporting each other through the lows. The Japanese Rhythmic team performed a beautiful routine with several blunders, but despite these mistakes, they continued to persevere and cover for each other throughout the routine. Their elegance and grace as they walked off the platform spoke volumes of their integrity and commitment to their performance, despite their errors.

As a student, you might find yourself in situations where continuing may feel impossible, perhaps an assignment is not going to plan, a project is going to miss a deadline. Despite the challenges we face, having a support person, your friends, and your family can help you get through a rough patch and get you back on track. No matter your mistakes, keep your head up high, take pride in yourself and your work and be proud of how far you’ve come!


The Women’s High Jump Gold and Silver Winners (ROC’s Mariya Lasitskene and Australia’s Nicola McDermott)

The women’s high jump was just as thrilling, and we can learn a lot from the crystal-clear focus of the gold and silver medal winners. After struggling and failing two attempts at 1.96m and 1.98m, Mariya managed to power through making successful jump after jump and securing that Gold Medal! Removing any mental blocks, she believed in herself and pushed herself to secure the gold. Similarly, Nicola McDermott, throughout her jumps, stayed focused on her jump rituals and was seen recording her jumps and techniques and thoughts after every attempt. Nicola’s journaling, goal setting, practice, and talent enabled her to secure that silver medal.

Student life is so demanding; there are many pressures that we place on ourselves and expectations that come with studying and being a Uni student. Mariya and Nicola teach us that success comes from determination, having a clear vision and focusing on our goals. Using goal-setting methods and techniques, planning and reviewing our work, we can continue to challenge ourselves and tap into our true potential.

While we will all remember the 2021 Tokyo Olympics for different reasons, it produced a new generation of Athletes. Not only were they more robust and more skilled, but they also represented nations, stories, brought forward new voices, broke through Norms, and paved the way for new athletes to come. These Olympians showcased the legacy of the games and created a vision for future athletes that is second to none.

- Eleanor Almeida, Nxtstep Content Writer

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