In light of this past weekend with the world team trials and new NBA champions, I decided to focus this post on all champions.
I briefly touched on this topic in Wrestling with Your Destiny.
Champions have that unique ability to rise to the occasion and win, when the pressure is on. No matter how the regular season goes, champions are almost always around in the end.
This past weekend, Cael Sanderson made a triumphant return to amateur wrestling winning the world team trials by beating a 2009 world silver medalist. Sanderson had not wrestled competitively since winning a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics. He may be a special case because he just may be too good for anyone to contend with him.
A great an example from Division 3 wrestling is Minga Batsukah. This past season he became only the 11th three-time Division 3 champion in history. Yet this season he came into the national tournament as the number four seed. He lost a match during the year and he moved up from 141 to 149, both of which dropped his seed. At the NCAAs in the national semifinals he beat the wrestler that bested him on his way to the title.
Champions perform when it counts.
What makes champions?
Perhaps it is easier to say what doesn’t make a champion. A champion does not allow the situation to determine his behavior. He controls his situation and the match. In other sports like basketball, it is easier to put into words. It would be wanting to take the last shot in Game 7 to win the title. In wrestling it can take different forms depending on the person. But a key is knowing that it’s probably not going to be easy, and then enjoying the fact that it’s not. Or wanting to be in a tied match with a few seconds left. It is so much more rewarding to do things that are difficult for you than crushing an opponent would be.
If someone told me in 2008, at the beginning of the year, “Mike no matter what, you are going to win the NCAAs so relax and do whatever you want.” I would be perhaps excited at first, but then I would have felt robbed. I would not have wanted anyone to give me a championship. I wanted to earn it. I am willing to bet those guys that won the world team trials this past weekend would not want it handed to them either.
Champions want to earn their championships.
This want allows them to be ready in the final pressure loaded moments of a match, game, or fight, to overcome it all and ultimately win. And while it is amazing as to what we can will our bodies to do, our bodies have to be ready at that stage too. To be a champion you must have both the physical and mental games under control. Work at both a little each day and do some serious goal setting. If you do, you will be doing what all champions do more than anything: preparing for their moment.