Peter Bol’s best advice for developing the mindset of a champion
Becoming an elite athlete was beyond Peter Bol’s wildest dreams – so what are the secrets to his success, and how can you use them in your own life?
He raced his way into the history books and hearts of Australian sports lovers with his epic performance at the Tokyo Games, but Peter Bol admits he is something of an accidental Olympian.
“Because of the different cultures we came from, in Sudan and Egypt, we didn’t follow the Olympics,” the Australian track star explains.
Peter, who immigrated to Australia when he was a child, says running wasn’t really his thing.
“I struggled to watch races; I struggled to enjoy a lot of things about it because I was interested in other sports,” Peter adds.
The sprinter, who placed fourth in the 800m final in Tokyo, grew up dreaming of playing basketball like his hero, Kobe Bryant.
From court to track
When his natural speed and agility were spotted at a cross-country competition in high school, Peter reluctantly turned his attention to running on the track rather than the court.
“I didn’t really fall in love with (running) until I started travelling,” he says.
“I think the first trip I had was to Nationals in Sydney and I was like, ‘Wow, this is awesome, I can travel Australia because of sports,’ and it’s literally become my passport.”
Indeed it has. Running has taken Peter from his childhood home in Toowoomba to Tokyo with the Olympic team.
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His rise from half-hearted cross-country runner to world-class athlete has certainly been meteoric; a combination of natural talent, hard work and a fiercely competitive nature.
This journey from grassroots to elite is one that Chemist Warehouse, in partnership with Athletics Australia, continues to support athletes like Peter on.
What makes a champion?
These are Peter’s insights into developing the mindset of a champion:
Tune out the background noise
Peter says the only pressure he feels when he’s in the starting blocks comes from within himself.
“When you are an elite athlete, you learn to switch off everything around you,” he explains.
Free your mind
“Over the years I’ve worked out that if I am thinking too much before a race then I am probably not going to perform as well,” Peter says.
“You just need to stay calm and not focus on who is in front of you or who is behind you.”
Have confidence in your training and yourself
Peter has learned to have faith in his instincts.
“When you are running, you shouldn’t be thinking, ‘should I make a move here?’– if you do, it’s probably too late,” he says.
“When you are racing for time, every time you think, you add in more time; you’ve just got to do it – it’s got to be muscle memory.”
Put it all in perspective
Having fled war-torn Sudan with his family, Peter has grown up hearing stories about the hardships his parents endured.
“I speak to them and realise there are worse things that can be, and to just be grateful and happy (for what I have),” Peter says.
Happiness is the key to success
Diet and exercise will only carry you so far, according to Peter.
“You’ve also got to get your mind right and that is literally as simple as being happy,” he says.
“For example, if you are in Europe just feeling homesick, you won’t perform as well.”
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Written by Siobhan Duck.
Photo credit: Athletics Australia / Steve Christo