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The above photo is of my 9 year-old daughter, Madison, who came 10th in her school division today, which enables her to go through to the regional finals.

For her, it’s a really big deal and she is sporting the biggest smile I’ve seen on her face.

But she wasn’t smiling when she was training on a cold, wet, foggy morning doing laps before school.

She wasn’t smiling when we said no to McDonald’s or other junk food.

But she was beaming after training hard, pushing herself on the day and achieving her goal.

Hopefully, she’s learned an important life principle.

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When you’re watching sporting contests and comparing the expertise of each coaching team, it’s tempting to imagine the pre-game words of the coaches and think that the side that had the best motivational speech won.

These days, that’s rarely the case.

The team that wins is the one that is best prepared for the contest.

It’s the team that has worked the hardest on the training track.

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Like many other sports fans, I watched the gripping US Masters sudden death playoff this morning (Australian time), between Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.

To see the relief and exhilaration when Garcia made the winning putt was terrific.

Here was a guy in his 74th golf major, finally getting the rewards of almost 2 decades of toil.  They only play four each year, so that’s a long time to wait between losses.

Here was a guy who had lost in a playoff in the 2007 British Open and had other close calls and disappointments, showing the benefits of never giving up.

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This week, the Boston Celtics took first spot in the Eastern Conference from reigning champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers (and then promptly lost it again).

When asked about this accomplishment, coach Brad Stevens had this to say,

“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now.  

The whole idea is to make progress and get better every day and try and stay in the moment.  You do that whether you are in last place or trying to build up or whether you are in position for fighting for seeding.   Read the rest of this entry »

if-you-believe-inPittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown recently signed a contract worth $68M over 4 years, making him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL.  He has been to the Pro Bowl 5 times and is a superstar of the NFL, but it hasn’t been an easy ride for him.

Nicknamed “Boney Tony” in high school, when he left Central Michigan University to enter the NFL Draft, he was described by scouts as, “Very thin, small in stature, lacks functional strength.”  As a result, he slid down the order and was taken in the 6th round at pick 195.

But instead of being disappointed, he used the snub as motivation, selecting the number 84, because 8×4=32, which is the number of teams that overlooked him in the draft.

After signing his record contract, Brown revealed that he keeps a copy of his scouting reports and went on to say, Read the rest of this entry »

fight-one-more-roundIn 1892, James J. Corbett became the first boxing heavyweight world champion, winning by knock-out in the 21st round.

This is what he had to say on the art of being a champion:

“Fight one more round.

When your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the centre of the ring, 

fight one more round.

When your arms as so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard,

fight one more round.

When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish your opponent would crack you on the jaw and put you to sleep,

fight one more round,

remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped.”

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ibrahim-hamadtou

Ibrahim Hamadtou displaying his remarkable skill and tenacity

One of the more remarkable stories from the Rio Paralympics is Egyptian table tennis player, Ibrahim Hamadtou.

At the age of 10, Ibrahim lost both of his arms in a train accident, so you would think that table tennis is an odd choice of sport.

But this extraordinary man was not to be daunted, holding the paddle with his teeth and serving by throwing the ball into the air with his toes.

Yes, you read that right.

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I-try-to-approach-everyTennis great Novak Djokovic is quoted as saying,

“I try to approach every single day, whether it’s a match day or a practice day, with the right mindset and knowing that this will eventually pay off down the road.”

I’m sure that there are days when he doesn’t feel like training hard.  When it would be just as easy to take it easy and do the bare minimum.

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Olympians-turn-up-everyOver the next two weeks, we will be watching and cheering athletes from around the globe as they perform remarkable deeds for national glory and an elusive gold medal.

As we know, the Olympics come around every four years and give athletes the chance to prove themselves against the best in the world.

That’s a lot of pressure on one event.

If you have a false start, come down with the flu, slip at the wrong time or are the victim of a dodgy refereeing decision, it’s a long time to wait for redemption.

But of course, these athletes don’t just turn up every four years and randomly expect phenomenal results.

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Jaylen Brown quoteToday was the NBA Draft, always an exciting day for a hoops fan like me.  My Celtics had the third pick in draft and they selected Jaylen Brown.  I don’t know much about Jaylen, so I did some research and found this quote from him from earlier this month:

“A lot of people want to get to the level of a Kobe Bryant, but nobody wants to put in the work that he did.”

Now, I have to be honest, as a Boston fan, I never really liked Kobe, but I always admired him.

His work ethic was legendary and turned a prodigious young talent into one of the all-time greats of the game.

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