Email us

Virtual Campus
#TuksAthletics: USA Olympians share valuable tips with Tuks youngsters
7 March 2018

Top athletes are often considered to be superheroes who every time they step onto the track make something magic happens. But is that true?

The athletes of TuksSport High School will after having listened to Mechelle Freeman, Natasha Hastings and Sharrieffa Barksdale all former Olympians realise that top athletes also face the fear of failure. It is how you deal with it that determines if you will succeed or not. 
It was part of a Youth Empowerment Program which was held in collaboration with the US Embassy at the TuksAthletics Track. It started off with the youngsters being put through some practical exercises to get an idea of the dos and don’ts of becoming a successful athlete. Afterwards, in a question and answer session, the Olympians parted with some personal advice.
It was to be expected that the question of failure would be raised as it is the one absolute reality for any athlete. The Olympians were quite candid about it.
Hastings who represented the USA at the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games explained how difficult it was for her when she missed out on the 2012 Games. 
“I had to change my whole mindset. Many an athlete never succeed to comeback after such a setback. You must be able to learn from your failures because even in defeat there are some positives you can take which will enable you to become a better athlete. 
"The one thing that helps me is the quote “be careful how you speak to yourself, as you might just be listening’. The second you start to think about something negative you are setting yourself up for failure.”
Freeman said her secret weapon in her competitive days were the words “impossible is nothing”.
During the practical exercises, Freeman kept on emphasising that success starts by doing the small things correctly and that already starts with the warm-up exercises.
Barksdale highlighted the importance of finding a balance between studies and training. 
“I come from a family where education was always most important. Everybody had to get a degree. Your studies should always be your number one priority because if you get hurt today and are no longer able to compete what are you going to do if you don’t have a proper education. A person can take anything from you but your education.”
She continued by saying her philosophy is that losers complain while champions train. “Which one are you? Success is all about attitude without you will never achieve much.”
- Author Wilhelm de Swardt
Share this page
Last edited by Leonore JordaanEdit
Natasha Hastings with Zokwakhana Zazini (400m-hurdles world youth champion) and Mechelle Freeman at the Youth Empowerment Program :PHOTO Reg Caldecott