Need to Get Motivated? 12 Inspirational Quotes From Former Olympic Athletes

August 11, 2016, 2:00 PM UTC
Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Tony Duffy Getty Images

Whether your goal is to start a business, land a dream job or win an Olympic gold medal, getting there will require a lot of self-discipline and determination. We admire Olympians for their achievements, but we tend to forget that they too have faced feelings of doubt, fear and pain on their path to victory.

Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens and Peggy Fleming may be household names today, but each had to conquer significant physical and mental hurdles before conquering their sport.

Here are a few quotes from some of history’s greatest Olympians to help you through the hardships on your own path toward greatness:

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” — Muhammad Ali, American boxer and gold medalist.

“I don’t think you’re human if you don’t get nervous.” — Sidney Crosby, Canadian hockey player and gold medalist.

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self discipline, and effort.” — Jesse Owens, American track and field athlete and four-time gold medalist.

“I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” — Mia Hamm, American soccer player and gold medalist.

“Girls playing sports is not about winning gold medals. It’s about self-esteem, learning to compete and learning how hard you have to work in order to achieve your goals.” — Jackie Joyner-Kersee, American track and field athlete and three-time gold medalist

“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” — Mark Spitz, USA seven-time gold medalist in swimming

“If you think you can’t, you won’t, and if you think you can, you will. When I’m tired at practice, I tell myself that I’m not tired, and I can push through. If you tell yourself you’re tired or if you tell yourself you’re sick, your body is going to follow the mind.” — Kellie Wells, USA 100m hurdles bronze medal winner

“Failure I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle!” — Sanya Richards-Ross, USA gold medalist at 400 meters

“This ability to conquer oneself is no doubt the most precious of all things sports bestows.” — Olga Korbut, USSR four-time Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics

“Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind. It meant training and sweating every day. But I was completely committed to working out to prove to myself that I still could do it.” — Andre Agassi, USA gold medalist in tennis

“The things you learn from sports – setting goals, being part of a team, confidence – that’s invaluable. It’s not about trophies and ribbons. It’s about being on time for practice, accepting challenges and being fearful of the elements.” — Summer Sanders, USA gold medalist in swimming

“The first thing is to love your sport. Never do it to please someone else. It has to be yours.” — Peggy Fleming, gold medalist in figure skating