I love watching the Olympics and am always inspired by the athletes’ stories and their emotions when winning those medals. I still remember when the Magnificent Seven won the gold medal in gymnastics in Atlanta and how Kerri Strug stuck the landing even through the pain. It helped me learn that all pain is mental and that we are capable of more than our body’s limitations.
This year was a special Olympics for me when Monica Puig won the first ever gold medal for Puerto Rico. It was an emotional moment for me to see the Puerto Rican flag live on German TV and hearing the commentator talk about my country and praise our athlete. Before the Olympics I’d never heard of Puig, not being a tennis fan, and I’m sure most Puerto Ricans hadn’t heard of her either. But now she has given us a moment that we will never forget, uniting all Puerto Ricans around the world in a single sentiment. She truly united a nation and gave us hope at a time when all of us needed it the most.
Monica has been playing tennis professionally since 2010, having an up-and-down career. In 2014 she went up the ranks to become #41 in the world but then fell down again and ended 2015 at #92. So how can it be that she could maintain her focus and go on to beat two top players to win the gold? Here are three things I found out about Monica Puig that I hope inspire you on your road to success:
1. Keep going
Like all elite athletes, Monica has had a long journey to get to where she is today. She’s been working on her aim, risking losses, but knowing eventually the work would pay off. She also learned to identify her strengths and weaknesses, striving to continually improve.
So to all of us who have a goal, we need to remember that it’s a long way to success. We will win sometimes and we will lose sometimes, but we have to keep going and never give up.
2. Stay positive and believe in yourself
In order to become a more consistent tennis player, Monica had to work on keeping her confidence up whenever she lost and replacing self-doubt with positive thoughts. During her semi-final match against Petra Kvitová, Monica said she kept thinking about what she needed to do to win, and kept repeating to herself over and over, “You can do it”. She also said that people’s chants of “Si se puede” or “It can be done” helped keep her motivated during the final match.
Sometimes we are our own enemies. We tell ourselves it’s too hard or we’re not good enough, and we give up and don’t live up to our full potential. Monica’s story reminds us how changing our thinking and being our own fans can take us a long way into achieving our goals.
3. Dream big but take it one step at a time
Monica Puig began the year with a clear goal: to win a gold Olympic medal for Puerto Rico. But first she needed to qualify for the Olympic games, and she focused on moving up the ranks from #92 to #34, a career high. Then she focused on winning each game. As she got closer to her goal, her determination increased and we all know the result: first woman ever to win a medal for Puerto Rico, first Latin American woman to win a singles tournament, first unseeded woman to win Olympic gold in tennis, and the first athlete ever to win a gold medal for Puerto Rico.
We all have dreams, but sometimes we put qualifiers as to what we can achieve. Those who don’t dream big, don’t risk big. If we really want something, we have to go at it full force and not settle for average. Who knows what we can achieve when we give it our all?
So dreams do come true. No matter where we come from or what our background is, we can achieve greatness if we persist, believe in ourselves, and dream big. I’m really happy for Monica and I hope she keeps growing in her sport. She gave all of us Puerto Ricans an unforgettable Olympics and we will be forever grateful.
How has Monica’s story inspired you? What other person has brought inspiration to your life?