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What kids can learn from the Olympics

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Like the rest of the world, we’ve been glued to our screens watching the Olympics. With the Tokyo 2020 Games drawing to a close, we’ve been thinking about the lessons kids can learn from these elite athletes that go way beyond the playing field.

Don’t give up

Not many (if any) athletes would make it to the Olympics if they gave up after their first failure. Part of being an elite athlete - or indeed anyone who is the best in their industry - is developing perseverance and a desire to learn from and improve upon failures or missed opportunities. 

This year’s Olympics saw the nation jump for joy when British diver Tom Daley won gold after first competing in the Olympics 13 years ago when he was just 14 years old. There he fell shy of winning a medal, but he was not put off and continued to work hard and compete, and he has since achieved bronze and silver medals before this year finally winning the coveted gold. Daley’s journey shows how we shouldn’t be put off by our failures, but should instead use them to learn and fuel our desires to achieve in the future.

So next time you don’t get the grade you wanted in a test, or your code doesn’t work the first time, don’t quit! Instead, learn from your mistakes and make the necessary changes to do better next time.

Even the best have to practise

Being an Olympic-standard athlete requires serious dedication to practice! Even though they’re the best in the world, Olympians continue to put in serious hours every day to make sure they stay at the top of their game. Sir Chris Hoy, British cyclist and seven-times Olympic medallist, summarised this Olympic effort saying, “Anybody can achieve great things in their life if they are willing to work hard.” 

This is an attitude we can benefit from in all areas of our lives. While practice can be hard and uncomfortable (especially when we’re just starting out with something new), it is through continued learning and exercise (of skills, not just sports) that we get better, and maybe even become the best in the world!

Team work makes the dream work

In team events we see athletes come together to achieve a shared goal. Their success or failure depends on more than just their individual outputs, but how well they work together and communicate. 

Even beyond team sports, in the Olympics we see athletes coming together as part of a larger, national team. Michael Jamieson, British swimmer and silver medal winner in the 2012 Games describes how being part of a team is about more than physically working together, but also supporting each other mentally; “It’s easy to be positive when things are going well, but when they’re not, that’s when you rely on your team mates.” 

This attitude to working together and supporting each other is something we can transfer to all areas of our lives including group work set at school, our friendships and our future careers.

Dream, believe, achieve!

Every athlete taking part in an Olympic competition does so believing that they can win a medal. This self-belief and focus contributes to their success as much as their physical abilities. Sky Brown, who became Great Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist after winning bronze in the Women’s Park Skateboarding at age 13, described how her self-belief lead her through to compete and win in the games; “I feel like people think I'm too young and I can't do it but, if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I believed in myself and I'm here."

If you ever feel doubt creeping in, or if other people try to tell you you can't do something, remind yourself that you’ve got this!