HARD-HITTING times happen to everyone in the sports world. No matter how strong, powerful or confident an athlete is, rough times always force them to disintegrate at times.
With a number of competitors, who represented the country recently at various international competitions failing to impress, the fear factor may take its toll on them as they seek another shot on such tournaments.
After performing badly at the 2015 All-Africa Games (AAG) and Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in Congo Brazzaville and Samoa respectively where Zambia was represented in Judo, boxing, handball, Paralympic weightlifting, track and field and swimming, athletes must not go to sleep.
Defeat is always accompanied by a feeling mixed with fear and deflated dreams but the hardest part of the rough times is not to lose hope.
Even though some of the athletes have tasted defeat on many occasions, there is always the next time for as long as one is still breathing and eager to compete.
It is a common trend in Zambia that when an athlete suffers defeat, it is easy to get lost in panic thoughts that are filled with feeble hope which pulls them back into the present moment.
One of the most important traits in achieving success in sports is to remain positive even when someone is staring in the face of defeat.
Positivity is one of the many traits that an athlete aspiring to be champion must possess without doubt.
This trait has been highlighted in previous editions of this column but taking into account our athletes’ display recently; I was compelled to dwell on this topic again to lay emphasis on the importance of dealing with tough times in sports.
After every tough situation, athletes ought to think back for a moment and look at factors that could have led to their failure in a competition. It is not until they are proactive about their struggles that they could tap into past sources of inspiration and guidance.
Yes! Our athletes have failed to shine at the AAG and CYG, the sports fraternity is gutted but this is not the time to apportion blame or cry over spilt milk… Now is the time to think about what we can do best to step up performance next time.
Former 400 metres hurdles world champion Samuel Matete has emphasised the need to do more in the development of athletes to maximise their chances of winning medals next time.
“There is need for people to be realistic about the development of sport in the country. So far there is nothing to be proud of, athletes could not put up a spirited fight save for female runner Kabange Mupopo, who won gold in 400 metres,” Matete said.
As American football coach Vince Lombardi perfectly put it “winners never quit, quitters never win,” athletes should feel inspired by these words to keep on searching for that triumph and someday, they will surely win.
What Lombardi was trying to put across is that no matter what happens around someone in a competition, if they have the desire to be true victors, they cannot draw back when they perform badly.
It is a known fact that those who persevere to attain greatness in anything eventually achieve their dreams. If the vanquished athletes stop believing in themselves and their cause, then winning could be a far-fetched dream.
Therefore, what is important for them at the moment is to keep their dreams alive, correct mistakes and forge ahead. They should never stop fighting for the change they want to see in their performance.
Letting go of their seemingly endless to do lists in their quest for success is a risky undertaking. We cannot expect to win medals if we do not put in the effort, technique and other relevant skills to outdo other competitors.
Working on what needs to get done, trying and building some momentum is a basis of positivity that has always transformed sloppy performance into perfection.
The Chipolopolo did it at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It took the team eight years of trying before they were Kings of Africa in Libreville.
Perseverance finally paid off. That is a hallmark of a true champion!
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