The Anatomy of a Champion

Two legs, one arm. Two arms, one leg. A broken collarbone, a sprained knee, a ruptured Achilles, and sore heel. Blind, deaf, mute… Brain injury, cancer, paralyzed.

Champions don’t all look or feel the same. They don’t all walk the same path or wear the same medals or hoist the same trophies. They don’t all get there in the same time.
But the one thing they all have in common is victory as the outcome. Some kind of victory, some kind of big win. They’ve all achieved it. And it changed them for good.

Champions are made in the heat and the snow, in the sweat of the weight rack, in the hours of repetitions. They don’t just happen. They are made up of moving parts, some easy to spot and easy to piece together, others hidden and not so visible day to day. Head to toe, they have a few non-negotiable parts.

The Physical Body. The champion can train all day, run faster, lift stronger, leap higher, but the muscles will eventually tire. However, a true champion understands how to take care of the body to get the most out of it… rest, nutrition, hydration and training. The best do it best. This is a no-brainer. But there is so much more than this. The physical being can only do so much… We work our way down through the inner champion in order of appearance.

The Head. The champion understands the trust mindset and how to let go of outcome to be process-driven. They believe they can achieve greatness and they understand what it will take to get there. But that usually isn’t enough. A true champion has to know. They need to be certain that they can and WILL achieve what they set out to do. The bridge that connects believing to knowing is made up of faith and trust. Faith is being still in the unknown while trust is the realization that you have all the tools you need if you just let go and allow. The mind kicks in when the body wants to quit. The mental aspect of a champion is everything, as is knowing when to be mentally tough by using that power to harness abilities and when to shut the mind down to trust the body and not overthink. Champions know when each is necessary.

The Heart. The champion knows when they need to dial it up a notch. When the body and mind are both tired but the fight isn’t over… They know when to tap into the extra. They know when to dig deep. The heart is the extra muscle that taps into ability at the right time. It is the WHY, the LOVE of the game… whatever the game is to you. When a champion plays with the heart and not just the mind and body, they reach another level. It’s connecting the heart to the process that elevates them to greatness. A champion with heart WANTS to work harder, to put in the extra, to pull it all out when it counts. Heart is what delivers the passion to the victory.

The Gut, Or the soul. Often seen as the center of it all… A champion relies on the gut in the last seconds of the competition. When the mind is shut off, the heart is tired and the muscles were the first to want to quit… the gut is all that’s left. There is no more. To the body that is missing a limb, to the victor who sits in a wheelchair, and the one who doesn’t… the knowing often gets clouded in the end, the heart gets caught up on just trying to keep beating… When there is nothing left, there is the gut. The “intestinal fortitude” that keeps the Champion in the midst of it all and lifts the trophy at the end. “NO guts, no glory” has some merit to it. It’s about digging into the deepest well to find the one drop left when the competition stopped digging.

Then and only then, can we know victory.

The anatomy of a champion is simple. The body, mind, heart and soul. Just like so many other things we can compare to our victories, it’s the order in which we pull them out that matters most.
Here’s to the champion in all of us.

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