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Lessons From Olympics 2020

Let’s reflect on what we can learn from the Olympics and the values we can instill in ourselves and develop a better mindset.

August 13, 2021

Every four years, the Olympic game happens where we witness the performances of the best athletes in the globe. During the Olympics games, we all get glued to our television sets to watch amazing collections of sports from gymnastics, tennis to soccer and swimming.

We get to see some great sports which not only fill our minds with enthusiasm but also teach us great life lessons.

The three values of Olympism are excellence, friendship and respect. These values make up the foundation that the Olympic Movement builds its activities on. Besides just promoting sports, culture and education, the values also strive to build a better world.

This is why the Olympic games are so much deeper than just the sport itself or the medal tallies. Regardless of whether an athlete wins a medal or not, the whole process of training to participate in the event holds many valuable life lessons that we can learn from. We look up to athletes so much because each performance tells a story of hard work, determination, resilience and so on.

In this article, let’s reflect on what we can learn from the Olympics and the values we can instill in ourselves and develop a better mindset. After all, life itself is like a sport.


Do the Best in the Worst of Times

Despite the pandemic, the committee pushed forward with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

However, no spectators were allowed at the games to prevent Covid-19 clusters from forming. The emotions, be it positive or negative, expressed by athletes were only captured by cameras. This is a stark contrast to previous Olympic games where the seats would be filled with people.

There was an obvious void that was hard to ignore. Even with close to 70,000 cheerful, polite and helpful volunteers, this void could still be felt through and through. The presence of spectators is significant for the athletes because they are usually a major source of moral support.

Some members of the public couldn’t stand missing the action and resorted to snapping pictures outside of the stadiums. Some others who were most likely concerned about contracting the virus avoided the event.

The commencement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo was gratifying for sure. But it is also a polarizing event as it was held in the middle of a pandemic.

In spite of the games being delayed by a significant amount of time, this has not discouraged athletes from performing at their best.

It is written in the Bible: ‘And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.’

Like the athletes in the Olympics, we should put our heart and our mind in all that we do, whether there are spectators cheering us or not.


Certainty is a Rarity

In the world of sports, athletes are rarely faced with certainty or linear progress. Even with non-stop, intensive training, you’ll never know who you’re up against next and how your own progress measures up to theirs. You might beat the great Lin Dan one day, but you could lose to his less notable team-mate Chen Long the next day. The following examples illustrate this very point.

Winning four majors before turning 25, Rory Mcllroy became one of only three golfers in the world to achieve such a feat in 2014. However, there have been no other major achievements since. Caeleb Dressel was full of promise and potential when he participated in the 2016 Olympics swimming category, but he finished as sixth in the 100m freestyle. Anthony Ervin had a gap of 16 years between winning his gold medals – one at the 2016 Olympics Swimming 50m freestyle and another at the 2000 Olympics.

Athletic performance goes through seasons of highs and lows. Even world champions face times where they have trouble achieving the same feat or attain a gold medal again, and this usually happens when not just we, but they least expect it too.

Change is the only constant in life and this is especially applicable during such unpredictable times. We do not have the privilege of knowing what exactly will happen in future, so the only thing we can do is have a flexible mind and adapt to changes as they come.


Perfection in the Imperfection

Humans are not perfect and it is only human to err. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Olympic athlete; it doesn’t matter if you’re Joseph Schooling. We may hold them to sky high standards, but at the end of the day, we are all still human no matter how much you have achieved.

However, many seem to forget this fact as evident in Joseph Schooling’s exit from the Tokyo Olympics.

The elimination at his pet event – the 100m butterfly, at the Final World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea was unexpected and came as a shock.

Clocking 52.93 seconds in the morning heats, there is a clear disparity from his 2016 Olympic gold-winning time of 50.39sec in Rio de Janeiro.

This resulted in him being the 24th fastest swimmer in the overall heats results, placing him out of the top 16 swimmers allowed to move forward to the semi-finals.

As you would have already heard of and seen the internet abuzz with this news – his performance at the Tokyo Olympics were off the mark and was disappointing. We all had high hopes for him, high hopes that he would represent Singapore and bring glory to himself and the nation as a swimmer.

Following his less than stellar performance, many Singaporean keyboard warriors left hurtful, vile comments on Schooling’s performance. Thankfully, a number of other netizens also took to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to express their disdain at such distasteful actions, chiding this attitude as “When we win, we win together but when you lose, you lose alone”.

Though people may have their negative opinions about Schooling, his Olympic triumph is motivating and this cannot be taken away from him.

His courageous self-belief, grit and determination pushed him to achieve what most of us non athletes cannot.

Half a decade ago, Singapore was a small country without much representation for success in the world of sports. So when Schooling had his victory in the 2016 Rio Olympics, the nation celebrated and honored him.

The path to victory and success is arduous and painful, and it is only with unrelenting love, support, friendship and steadfast sacrifices that make all the training worth it. Such positive spirit and values are more important than the perfect end result.

Failures and setbacks are nothing more than stepping stones on the path to greatness. I believe Joseph Schooling will be back better, stronger, and faster than ever.

Let’s keep chasing our greatness in life.


Focus and Strategy

The first time China had beaten the United States to the most number of Gold medals was in 2008 when Beijing hosted the Games.

In this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, the United States beat China by a small margin, winning 39 golds as opposed to China clinching 38 gold medals.

Although the United States is still leading, they won 16 fewer medals than predicted according to analysts, while China won more medals than expected, out-doing themselves.

China has the Focus and Strategy:

  1. The Chinese system relies on the state to scout tens of thousands of children for full-time training at more than 2,000 government-run sports schools. To maximize its golden harvest, Beijing also focuses on less prominent sports that are underfunded in the West or sports that offer multiple Olympic gold medals.
  2. Nearly 75 percent of the Olympic golds China has won since 1984 are in just six sports: table tennis, shooting, diving, badminton, gymnastics and weight lifting. More than two-thirds of China’s golds have come courtesy of female champions, and nearly 70 percent of its Tokyo delegation are women.
  3. Beijing’s focus has been on sports that can be perfected with rote routines, rather than those that involve an unpredictable interplay of multiple athletes. Aside from women’s volleyball, China has never won Olympic gold in a large team sport.

Likewise we must have the Focus and Strategy in life.

The 3 Simple Strategies in Life:

  1. Focus on what is important, not just what is urgent.
  2. Plan to fail if we fail to plan.
  3. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Start Young and Start Now

Many of the winning athletes are really young.

Let’s take a look at some of the youngest athletes who managed to bring home medals – Nishiya Momji won gold in skateboarding at only 13 years old. The youngest table tennis player in the Olympics is Hend Zaza who is only 12 years old and the Chinese diver Quan Hongchan is just 14 years old.

We cannot help but wonder just at what age these young athletes start training In order to participate in the world’s biggest sporting event?

Hend Zaza first started playing in her hometown of Hama while Syria started at the tender age of 5.

What if we had started planning and investing as early as these young teenagers who trained for the Olympics.

We would have probably retired much earlier and focused on other more important aspects of life.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.

In essence. If you had not started planning and investing in your future. It’s better that you start now, than never.


The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.

The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.

May we fight the good fight, and finish the race of life.

Junwen Chen

My mission is to educate and empower people to design their lives so that they can live in abundance.

Let me partner with you, to design and nurture your dreams and ultimate life goals.


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