Recently, I've been binge-watching videos of the Olympics. I used to only watch some highlights especially Gymnastics, but I've never really cared about the other ones up until this year. I started becoming really obsessed with track such as high jump, pole vault, long jump, etc.
Just yesterday, Indri wrote a blog about how Archery taught her to be present How to live in the present (su-re.co). Having tried archery myself, I completely understand how important it is to have this skill in this sport. In fact, in every other sport as well. I started realizing a pattern in sports upon watching the Olympics.
To illustrate, here is a video on the Women's Triple Jump finals. Honestly, I didn't think I was going to be so tense watching this video. To think of it, it is one and half hours of a bunch of individuals taking turns doing hops onto a pile of sand. But I was at the edge of my seat towards the end.
So I started visualizing myself being in the position of these athletes. Going through preselections after preselections to be where you are at. Compete at the Olympics, represent your country, and have the whole world watching you. It is an accomplishment in itself to arrive at the Olympics, which perhaps adds the pressure to perform really well. Obviously, you really want to do your best, or at least, you do not want to disappoint yourself.
You are then waiting for your turn to jump alongside 11 other athletes. Everyone has six tries to prove that they can jump the furthest. Imagine that, you probably jump more than six times during training, but in the d-day, six is all you got to prove your competency. I started being really stressed for every single athlete when it isn't their turn. I was wondering what they were thinking, do they compare themselves? are they meditating in-between turns?
Surely, the main challenge is not only the techniques of the jump, but to also stay mentally focused. After several observations, I realized how much of a mental battle this is. As every athlete attempts their jump, they have to wait for so long before they can do it again. Perhaps they see the other athletes jump better, which can either hype or discourage someone. What would probably feel really bad is to compare your scores. Or worse, have failed attempts because you stepped outside of the line. Every failed attempt will definitely add weight to one's shoulders.
And so I was eyeing Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela. After five attempts, she failed two, and her best one is her first jump. Imagine being in her position of getting a good start and then see your scores go down after every jump. Must have been heavy!! I was sweating so much when I was watching her last jump. She took her time, breathed, had a good speed at the runway, and boom! She broke the world record, just like that. Amazing performance! I could not be any happier for her. What a twist! I was so relieved and couldn't help but be proud of someone I don't know.
And there it is. I definitely learned that, even an Olympic champion can fail or slip when they are unfocused. Focusing on our skills in whatever we are doing is important, but honing our skills to be present is imperative. I hope you are more convinced that the present is truly a gift for the future. I highly recommend watching more of these replays! The men and women's high jump were as intense and rewarding to watch.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what techniques you have to stay present in the comments below. For me, it really is about letting go of any outcome, that way I am more comfortable approaching what I do and be immediately present.