Life-lessons from Olympics to young minds | Sunday Observer

Life-lessons from Olympics to young minds

22 August, 2021

While the Olympic flame was extinguished in Tokyo, values you can instill in your young minds from the Olympics are flamed up.

The Olympics is a dream of every athlete in the world. The world’s finest sportspersons are working hard for accomplishing their dreams by demonstrating determination, courage, boldness, humanity, and many more values bonded under the five Olympic rings.

Millions of people around the world are tuned to watch the Olympic Games irrespective of their social-cultural and individual differences or their taste in different sports, making Olympics so much more than just entertainment.

There are ample valuable life lessons to be learned by young generations through this incredible event, the Olympics. The motto of the Olympic Games itself, which is Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, and Stronger) is the essence of great life skills that can lighten up the spirits of young sportsmen/women around the globe.


So, what do you think it takes to become a great sportsman/woman of your age? Is it a win over others by any means? Or does it take patients, understanding, humanity, love, care, and courage?

This article aims to provide you a glimpse of life lessons and skills that would guide your journey towards great sportsmanship and also towards a successful future as a responsible global citizen.

Accepting individual differences is the first lesson I would like to emphasise.

Around 11,090 Athletes representing 206 countries participated and competed for 339 events in 33 sports in the Tokyo Olympics, 2020. No doubt that your kids or even you may have never heard of some of the countries that participated or some sports included in the Olympics. There is no doubt it was fun to watch how these different sports were played by sportsmen and women of different colors, different skin tones, different appearances, and by who were representing different cultures and traditions.


This makes the Olympics the greatest opportunity to teach our children the wonderfulness of diversity and respecting individual differences. Sports are for all. For all from diverse cultures, races, regions, religions, and groups of people. For all to win or lose under equal opportunities given free from any bias of discrimination.

After 57 years of Olympic history, Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi shared an Olympic gold in the men’s high jump at the Tokyo Games 2020.

While they were offered to compete for another round to decide between them they preferred to share the gold by respecting each other’s skill and achievement. Qatar’s Barshim wrote “What is better than one gold?” on his Twitter and added that “I know for a fact that for the performance I did, I deserve that gold. He did the same thing, so I know he deserved that gold”. Isn’t this act of respecting each other, enough to prove the Olympics bring peace and harmony to the world?

Next, I would like to encourage our young generation to dream big as the next life lesson.

Amazing things can happen when people have an incredible dream and pursue it. In his own words of Michel Phelps, who won 28 Olympic medals in swimming “Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get”.

It is a realisation of a great dream for every sportsperson who took part in the Olympics to get the opportunity to participate Olympics itself.

However, the greatest dream of any sportsperson would be winning some medal, if not gold, or at least to achieve their personal best performance.

Neeraj Chopra from our neighboring country India, set an excellent example in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, by dreaming big and winning the first-ever Gold Medal in the track and field event for India.

His precious gold medal in javelin throw not only realised Neeraj’s dream, but a dream came true to one billion Indians dreaming for a gold medal in a track and field event for 100 years.

Neeraj’s road to success was not on a bed of rose petals. He was from a farmer family in a village Panipat and was a child who was humiliated for being overweight.

The challenges, hardships, and barriers he had to face as a young sportsman were not easy. Nevertheless, he never gave up his ultimate dream to get the gold medal for his country by overcoming whatever the hurdles he had to overcome.

As a parent, teacher, elder we should teach our children to dream big, stay focused and never-give-up until they realise whatever they dream to achieve in their lives.

However, we must all know that we can’t always win. What I am going to discuss next is not an easy lesson to learn for anyone, especially for a young soul. But, I am not wrong if I say it is the most important lesson to learn in one’s life.


Athletes work hard, do commitments, and make great sacrifices to realise their Olympic dream. However, every participant cannot go home with a gold, silver, or bronze medal.

Even worse, some will not be able to participate in the event they pour their sweat into due to some uncontrollable incidents such as injuries during practice sessions or other issues.

However, true sportsmanship will display great strength in their failures. Failure in one Olympic has provided lessons, courage, and strength to win in the next Olympic for many great sportspersons. Can you remember the stories of Luca Kozak, Yusra Mardini?

According to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who is recognised as the father of modern Olympics, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part, the essential thing in life is not conquering but fight well”.


Have you seen the incident of Katarina Johnson-Thompson representing Great Britain, who fell and faced a calf injury in heptathlon event 200m in Tokyo Olympics?

She rejected the wheelchair and opted to the finish line with her injury to mark as an athlete who completed the event by showing a true Olympic spirit to the world. You may recall many such incidents.

This kind of Olympic story can teach our children that not everyone can win in every competition but every single failure will teach us a lesson and reward us with a worthy experience.

We should teach our children to make the effort to win but at the same time teach them winning is not the only thing and winning is not everything.

Failures are often, and failures are the pillars to success. At the same time, we should teach them that great wins do not come easily. “The hard days are best because that’s where champions are made” (Gabby Douglas, American artistic gymnast, Gold medalist at 2012 Olympic in all-around champion)

As we highlighted earlier, athletes are working hard by dedicating their whole life, and practise for years to achieve their Olympic dream.

The story of Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz who became her country’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist by winning the women’s 55 kg category for weightlifting at Tokyo 2020 is one among many such great success stories.

She recalled her commitments, sacrifices, and hard work towards achieving her country’s dream as follows.


“I’ve been sacrificing my food, and this is the time to celebrate together with the people who are behind me. So I’m really thankful I can eat now, yes…” Moreover, she has not seen her family since December 2019.

As a result of hard-working and dedication, she won gold and marked her name in Olympic and Philippines history.

And no doubt you have heard of the inspiring story of Allyson Felix the USA athlete who won the most number of Olympic medals in track and field events for the USA, just after giving birth to her daughter two years ago.

Use these great Olympic stories to teach children that achieving great things doesn’t come easy but takes their hard work and dedication, sacrifice and, commitment.

Teach your child the importance of not giving up until putting their best to achieve their targets because great wins do not just come easy to their hands.

Nevertheless, winning is not an individual effort, even in an individual event. There are commitments and sacrifices of families and support and guidance of coaches, sports administration, sponsors, other team members as well as the society at large.

When it comes to team events, team efforts play an even important role.

The value of teamwork is invaluable. By highlighting the synergy of teamwork, Jordyn Wieber, a former American artistic gymnast once said “I feel like you can accomplish so much more as a part of a team than you can by yourself”.

Every one of us works within some kind of team every day, in schools, workplaces, and society.

Teamwork plays a huge role in a successful family, where children have to work with their parents, siblings, have shared their toys, rooms, food and so on.

Teamwork facilitates children to learn unity, leadership, respecting each other, friendship, self-confidence, listening, and problem-solving.

Therefore, through Olympic stories, we can teach our kids to respect themselves, to others including coaches, referees, teammates, opponents, and society at large as well as to the rules and regulations guiding the behavior of particular societies.

Olympic values are not limited to what I explained so far, but there are many more life lessons including fair play, excellence, friendship, and courage.

Overall, through Olympics, we can teach our children to become valuable and responsible members of society.

So, finally, I would like to ask you the same question I asked you at the start. What do you think it takes to become a great sportsman/woman of your age?

Is it a win over others by any means? Or does it take patients, understanding, humanity, love, care, and courage? I am confident now you know your answers.

My concluding remark is a kind request from all of the adults. Let’s all be sports parents and encourage our young generation to involve themselves in some kind of sports, which would inculcate a seed of empathetic and humanitarian adult in their young minds.

Young sportsperson brought up with such values inculcated would be persuaded to aspire to their life dreams more ethically and become valuable citizens to the nation. Let’s spread Olympic stories and values among the young.