Athletes are some of the most famous people in the world, which is why they are admired by millions. Some of these athletes have the power to inspire people and make them chant their names during matches. They have charisma that everyone is drawn to, along with their talent, and this is the reason they have a huge fan-following.
When we watch these athletes, we all get motivated to fulfil our desires and accomplish our goals just like them. We’ve picked our 7 most iconic athletes and their encouraging stories that will show how they came to inspire us!
- Edson Arantes Do Nascimento — ‘Pelé’
When we talk about the greatest professional football player of all time, Pelé is the very first name that pops to mind. He was born in Brazil on 23rd October, 1940 in a small town called Mans Gerais.
Being the first son born in a very poor family, Pelé had to contribute at home to make ends meet. He worked as a servant in several tea shops in his town to help feed his family.
Pelé couldn’t even afford a proper football, so he used to stuff newspapers in a sock and tied it up with a string to resemble a ball. When this idea didn’t work, he used a grapefruit to hone his skills. Over time, his talent was noticed, and he played for various indoor and outdoor Brazilian football teams.
The 1958 World Cup was his crowning moment of glory which is still remembered by football enthusiasts. He was only 17 years old at that time and made a record as the youngest player to score an international goal. Pelé also netted a hat-trick that led Brazil to victory.
The football legend indicates that when victory is difficult, there is much more happiness in the win.
He is now a United Nations (UN) ambassador for ecology and the environment – an additional trait to this truly inspirational athlete.
- Michael Jordan
When we’re talking about basketball, Michael Jordan is the name everyone remembers. Despite that, arguably the best basketball player of all time didn’t make it to his university basketball team. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from being a living legend. Also, he has the most successful streak of basketball trainers, and is a proficient businessman too.
Jordan’s achievements list includes 6 NBA championships, 2 Olympic gold medals for Team USA and he has won 12 All-Star championships.
By the time he retired, Michael Jordan was the most complemented basketball athlete ever. People often asked him about what motivated him to succeed. His reply was always the same: “I didn’t see my name in the list of university team.”
Every time he faced a challenge in his path to glory, he always remembered that list and this early failure motivated him to work harder.
Jordan said that he has missed more than 9,000 basketball shots and also lost more than 300 games. These failures become the key factor of his commendable success and that’s why he is one of the most inspirational athletes today.
- Nadia Comaneci
Nadia Comaneci was the first female gymnast ever to receive the perfect score of 10 in an Olympic event. She was only 14 years old when she was crowned as the youngest Olympic gymnast all-round champion during the 1976 Montreal summer Olympics.
She also ended up bagging 3 Olympic gold medals in the same event and was later named “athlete of the century” by the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Nadia Comaneci was born on November 12th, 1961 in Onesti, Romania to an auto-mechanic dad and a prima ballerina mom.
At a very young age she started training and was recognised by Bela Karolyi when she was just 6 years old. After facing some tough competition she became one of the most renowned, talented and skilled gymnasts of her time.
- Muhammad Ali
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
This statement really fits the great legend – the late Muhammad Ali. Many also refer to him as ‘The Greatest Boxing Legend’ whose inspiring nature has stood the test of time.
He achieved almost every title by defeating every boxer in his era and his achievements are endless. The three time world heavyweight boxing champion made this inspiring impact by influencing million of fans worldwide. His fitness level, stamina and his strength are the key reasons behind his success.
In the later years of his life, Ali began his final battle. A severe case of Parkinson’s disease took hold of his body. As we know, this results in the inability to move the limbs properly. He stood up to the disease just as he had stood up to his opponents all his life and lit fire in the ring at the 1996 Olympics.
In this way, he became a supreme personality who successfully overcame physical and mental inabilities and emerged as the shining star that he was! Muhammad Ali remains one of the most iconic and inspirational athletes in the history of sports. He passed away in 2016 and fans all across wish for him to rest in peace.
- Serena Williams
Serena Jameka Williams is presently the world’s number one female tennis player. With her outstanding athletic skills, she became one of the very few female tennis players to win all four tennis Grand Slams.
She also boasts 4 Olympic gold medals and became the top rewarded female athlete in 2015. In spite of having a long list of honours, the journey to the top was difficult.
There are many instances when the queen of court faced racism from fans and other tennis administrators. Many people criticise her strong physique and colour but Serena used this negativity as breakpoints in her life. This self-confidence and unbeatable spirit made her an admirable and inspirational athlete.
- Jim Abbott
Born without his right hand, Jim Abbott proved that anyone can follow their dream if we stay focused on our objectives. The incident that shot him to fame is a baseball match that took place in 1993.
Abbott threw a no hitter in a game against the Cleveland Indians, which helped the United States to collect its first gold in the baseball Summer Olympics (1988).
Abbott’s career was far from perfect. He ended his career with an 87-108 record, a 4.25 ERA, and struck out 888 when retiring in 1999 with Milwaukee.
He described that there were some incredible highlights and some agonising lows. He recognised his success as a combination of special moments, lessons learned and a connection with people. His life-long lessons made him a rather streamlined personality. Now he is a motivational speaker who teaches the world how to use failures to achieve success.
- Usain Bolt
The fastest man on Earth.
Usain Bolt is another great Olympian of this age. He has won 9 Olympic gold medals in one of the oldest and most competitive sport in Olympic history, sprinting. Not only had he dominated Olympic Games outside of it, he has been an absolute beast in world championships as well.
His world record of 9.58s time in the 100m, and 19.19s in the 200m still seems unpassable. His lightning personality off the track, as well as his signature bolt pose, has become the highlight of the last three Olympic Games. This eight-time gold medallist will always be featured in the list of all-time great athletes in history for his tremendous world records.
From the start of 20th century, sports have become such a big part of everyone’s life. All the major sports categories started to grow with live TV coverage after World War II and since then, we have witnessed some of the greatest athletes who dominated their respective sports.
Maybe we can’t all sprint as fast as Usain Bolt, but it’s undeniable: fitness inspires. It’s a mood-lifter. Whether we’re going out for a run, utilising a personal trainer, attending fitness classes, or going the extra mile on fitness retreats, we can share something in common with these sporting legends: we’ll do our best.