If there is one obvious similarity between the greatest athletes, it is their ability to focus on their goals with single-minded determination and grit. To help provide some inspiration for achieving your goals this year, we have trawled through our archives to find some of the best motivational athlete quotes. Pin them to your fridge, write them in your notebook, or tattoo them on your chest. Get ready for a year of reaching your goals.
1. McKenzie Coan
Diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) as a baby, McKenzie Coan’s parents were told that she would never walk or talk. Fast forward to the 2016 Rio Paralympics and McKenzie swam her way to three gold medals, stepping to the top of the podium for the 50m, 400m and 100m freestyle races and winning silver for the 4 x 100m relay.
Over the course of her lifetime, McKenzie has broken more than 30 bones and undergone countless surgeries, but she manages to turn these setbacks into motivation. “People ask me, ‘Aren’t you afraid that you’re going to break?’ Yes, that’s a part of my life. I break but I get back up again and I keep going.”
This athlete quote came from our ‘Three Words With’ interview with McKenzie.
2. Danny MacAskill
With YouTube views going into the hundreds of millions, Danny MacAskill has made a career achieving things on a mountain bike that would terrify most of us. Overcoming fear is just one thing that has helped Danny find success on two wheels. He has found ways to harness his creativity through solitary practice. “Some sports you can’t really do without other people, but I think it’s important to be able to do something on your own. You really need to put the time in to get really good.”
This athlete quote came from an interview where Danny revealed how he tackles fear.
3. Kevin Jorgeson
In 2015, Kevin Jorgeson made history when he and his climbing partner Tommy Caldwell completed the first free-climb ascent of the Dawn Wall, a 3,000-foot rock face in Yosemite National Park. The endeavor took six years of preparation and 19 days on the wall from start to finish. The story was later told in the award-winning documentary ‘The Dawn Wall’.
For Kevin, climbing is more than just getting to the top of an assent. “What’s beautiful about climbing is that it mirrors whatever you need in your life. If your heart is full of fear, it’ll help you face that fear. If you’re seeking confidence, it’ll help you find it.” In his life it has helped him find passion, purpose and commitment, on and off the rock.
Kevin’s athlete quote came from this interview where he revealed how he prefers process to adrenaline.
4. James Harden
James Harden’s secret to success on the court is that he does his homework on the opposition, knows his role in the game, and sticks to the script. This gives him space to creatively ‘stir the pot’ but also the discipline to put his head down, remain focused and work hard. He says it is this combination that allows legendary things to happen like a buzzer-beating, game-winning shot.
Part of his success was working out what his role is. “Figure out what needs to be done and what your position is. Be the best at your position that you can be and don’t try to do what you see others doing.”
This athlete quote came from this conversation James had with GamePlan A in 2016.
5. Sasha DiGiulian
Despite being just 5 feet 2 inches tall, Sasha exudes strength. Not only in her arms and fingers, but also in her mind; whether that’s in her goal setting and ascent preparation or tackling social issues, Sasha is methodical and focused. She says that the meditation-like focus needed in climbing helps shut out the distractions of life: “Climbing is a sport where you can create a little area of your life where you can just be solely present. You’re not taking a selfie on a climb! You have to be solely thinking about what you’re doing”.
Read more athlete quotes from Sasha in the article ‘Living Life at the Top’.
6. Siya Kolisi
Most 12-year-olds don’t expect their local rugby tournament to change their lives forever but that’s exactly what happened to Siya Kolisi, a talented youngster from a Port Elizabeth township in South Africa. Scouts from a fee-paying city school saw him in action and offered him a scholarship. 14 years on, that boy took over the captain’s armband for South Africa’s national rugby team, writing his name into sporting history books.
Now he tries to provide other disadvantaged kids the same help and mentorship that changed Siya‘s life. “I started believing and feeling more confident in myself because I had people telling me, ‘You can be whatever you want.’ That’s the kind of life I wish for other people in the township.”
This athlete quote comes from Siya’s inspiring story about how he is using sport to change lives.
7. Laura Kenny
Laura Kenny is Great Britain’s most successful Olympic athlete, with a total of four Olympic gold medals, as well as a fistful of other cycling awards. At the age of 21 she had achieved more than most people can dream about in their entire lives. So how can an athlete stay motivated after winning big, so early in life? Laura says that feeling gets addictive: “Once you’ve won one, you want to keep winning because you’ve got that feeling, you know exactly what it feels like and that’s the feeling that you want back again.”
There are plenty more inspiring athlete quotes from Laura when she told us about her life as a champion.
8. Dee Caffari
Dee Caffari has had plenty of opportunities to put this lesson in to practice. She was the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions, and has skippered multiple round-the-world races with crews. What else did these extreme ocean voyages teach her about working in a team? “Always exercise open communication. It doesn’t matter what environment you’re in, a workplace or a team sport. Even when you’re part of a remote team, how you communicate and what you communicate is critical.”
Read more athlete quotes from Dee as she tells us about her amazing experiences and what she has learned along the way.