Currently there’s quite a bit of talk in various Bodybuilding and Strength circles about eight time Mr Olympia, Ronnie Coleman. For those that aren’t aware Ronnie recently underwent surgery which has to this date left him (temporarily I believe) paralyzed and unable to walk. I think at this point this would have been his seventh surgery. The huge buzz over this recent surgery however, is that when questioned if he had any regrets and if it was worth it he simply stated that it was definitely worth it and the only regret he had was that he didn’t train harder (Full interview here). Now to the average or serious yet unprofessional lifter this probably sounds ridiculous, but this truly is the mindset of a champion, literally sacrificing to win.
This got me thinking about an old phenomenon known as “Goldman’s Dilemma”. Physician Robert Goldman posed a question to elite level athletes asking if they would willingly take a drug that would guarantee them a gold medal and overwhelming success in sport but at the cost of dying in five years. Shockingly (or not so) roughly half the athletes questioned said they would take the drug which to me, highlights the true mindset of the elite. These athletes are living to compete, and ultimately to win.
As mentioned before, to the recreational lifter or dare I say it genetically inferior (in terms of athletic ability or chances of athletic success) this concept seems absurd and our answer would no doubt be a solid “no”. The mind of a champion, someone who lives and breathes their respective sport is vastly different from the likes of you or me. The athlete must be 100% committed his/her training and everything that revolves around that, striving for the gold, doing anything to win whereas my commitment to training simply cannot take up 100% of my time. I (and most likely you) have other commitments; jobs, families, hobbies etc. Striving to be the best in the world at something is a full time job and then some, and I feel I will never known the true mindset of a champion.
So for those that are often quick to judge elite level world renown athletes, take a moment to realize you will (most likely) never possess their mindset.