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What 8 Olympians Wish They Had Known Before Competing

Leigh Weingus
mbg Contributor By Leigh Weingus
mbg Contributor
Leigh Weingus is a New York City based freelance journalist writing about health, wellness, feminism, entertainment, personal finance, and more. She received her bachelor’s in English and Communication from the University of California, Davis.
What 8 Olympians Wish They Had Known Before Competing

The Summer Olympics come but once every four years, and tonight the Olympic games will officially kick off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

As athletes from all over the world gather to represent their country in the games, it only makes sense that first-time Olympians would be at least a little nervous, no matter how excited or honored they are to be a part of the tradition.

On second thought, it doesn't matter how many times you've competed in the Olympic games. Who wouldn't be nervous?!

So mbg decided to get in touch with eight Olympians who have competed in the games before, and they had some excellent pieces of advice when we asked them what first-time Olympians should keep in mind as they prepare to compete.

Here's what they had to say:

1. "You are there because you have been channeling it for a long time. So own it. You deserve to be there! You are worthy, enough, and valuable. Create the image in your mind of yourself succeeding. You are there because you darn well should be. Also—it is the same course, pool, track, field, whatever…that you have competed on for years. The scale may be greater, but you are performing the same skill that you always have. You know how to do it. So relax, have fun, and remember, this is your very unique and individual pursuit." — Caroline Burckle, former Olympic swimmer

2. "Champion athletes possess enviable traits of mental toughness, such as high self-confidence, enjoyment for their sport, motivation from within, taking ownership of success and failure, and they do not make excuses. Look back at what it was that helped you qualify for the Olympic team and apply those mental toughness traits during your event." — Joanna Zeiger, former Olympic triathlete

3. "View things as an investment, not a sacrifice. Enjoy the process as it goes along." — Gwen Jorgensen, Olympic triathlete

4. "Meet as many people as possible. I'd tell any Olympian to leave their personal comfort zone in order to meet and talk to as many other Olympians in the village as possible. You will make friends for life." — Clark Burckle, former Olympic swimmer

5. "Treat this competition like any other competition. I think you can get a little more nervous when you realize the Olympics is something that only comes around every four years—and it's definitely important to take it all in—but at the same time don't get overly excited about everything else. You're here representing your country and doing the best you can." —Nastia Liukin, former Olympic gymnast

6. "Take it in. Sometimes you're so caught up and focused on your actual performance that you forget you're actually at the Olympics. You have to be focused and not distracted, but it's also important to recognize the magnitude of it." —Shawna Johnson, former Olympic gymnast

7. "The same advice I found most useful: It’s just a swim meet, like all the other swim meets you’ve been to before.” — Rebecca Soni, former Olympic swimmer

8. "My advice would be to soak it all in. The Olympic experience goes by fast and is really overwhelming. Be in the moment, keep a journal, and take a lot of pictures!" —Kim Vandenberg, former Olympic swimmer

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