“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela.
This quote by South Africa’s first black president has stuck with me ever since I first saw it written on a school whiteboard. As an athlete, I realize that this speaks nothing but the honest truth.
Humans are resilient and are forever overcoming adversity. Through skiing and sport, I have learned that determination, perseverance and resilience are very much keys to success, both on and off the slopes. The path to the top is not easy in anyway, shape, or form, and is filled with countless obstacles. I cannot even begin to recall the number of times I have found myself in front of one of these obstacles, wondering how to proceed. Standing up after taking a knock is something that I have become very familiar with, and I am not alone with this feeling. Ask any athlete; I’m certain they will tell you a time when they have had a serious hurdle to overcome.
Injuries and other heartbreaks are inevitable in sport. This past season alone I have experienced many of these lows, which, in turn, were followed by highs. After an amazing off-season, filled with productive training and technical gains, I came into the competition season with a confidence I had never experienced before. I truly believed that if I focused on the process, the results would come. A rocky start to the 2017 World Cup season was definitely not in my plan. After a crash in the first World Cup, I was looking for revenge – so I built myself up again – ready to tackle the remainder of the long season ahead. Shortly after, a freak training accident scored me an ambulance ride to the hospital, leaving both my body and ego bruised. I was incredibly fortunate that it was nothing serious and was able to compete in the season’s second World Cup just a week later. I was ready to prove to myself that I was back in top form. But again, I was knocked down by an average performance and poor result. In the moment I felt so incredibly down, I didn’t even want to ski … what was the point if it was making me so upset? After a few deep breathes, a lot of talking with my support crew and even a few tears, I slowly started to stand back up. The following week, I had a career best finish, standing on a World Cup podium in second place surrounded by my two teammates Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, who placed first and third respectively.
I am not unique when it comes to battling adversity, and the conditions I have had to overcome are nothing in comparison to some, both in and out of sport. I have been fortunate enough to listen to some of the top athletes in the world speak about how they too overcame adversity.
The ability for humans to rise up from such extreme lows and heartbreak is truly inspiring. I plan to put this inspiration to good use.
– By Andi Naude.