4 WINNING Secrets of an Olympic Champion

AT the RIO 2016 Olympics, Michael Phelps won his 23rd gold at the medley relay, making him the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. He came motivated to win, after coming out from a four-year retirement.

There’s no doubt Phelps is one of the fittest athlete of all time, but his success is also due to a number of factors, including visualization, goal setting and being prepared for any type of situation, which positioned him for success.

When you are competing against the best athletes in the world, physical prowess will only get you so far. Everyone’s in great shape, having spent years crafting the perfect physique to perform at the top of their game.

Many Olympians will tell you that success is also a product of their mindset, and their ability to not get intimidated by their opponents, or crumble under pressure.

In this article by Rose Leadem from Entrepreneur.com,  she carefully analyzed the “success secrets” that make Phelps one of the most talented aquatic champion in history.


Usually, the goals that frighten you, motivate you, and force you out of your comfort zones are those that will ignite your personal progress.

Even at 8-years-old, Phelps has already begun setting goals and imagining a future in the Olympics, he explained during an interview with Fox Sports, showing a “goal sheet” he had created as a child, where he wrote down his goals specifically “in the form of times for various races” and checks on them daily.

Now, afer winning 23 Gold medals, Phelps said his successes are mainly a product of his unique ability to set and create goals.

“I have my goals somewhere I can see them, so when I get out of bed, I know that I’m waking up to work on what I’m going to achieve,” he said.


As a teenager, Phelps’s coach Bob Bowman told him at the end of each practice to go home and “watch the videotape. Watch it before you go to sleep and when you wake up.” The “videotape” was Phelps’s mental visualization of the “perfect race.” Imagining himself swimming flawlessly from start to finish, assessing his competition and going over even the smallest of details, such as envisioning the water dripping from his lips, pushed Phelps to success.

Bowman trained Phelps to make this routine into a habit, which he still practices today. For example, the night before a race, Phelps will visualize himself from two different perspectives. One, from the stands, and another from his viewpoint in the water.


Through visualization, Phelps prepares himself for any possible scenario that may occur during a race. By going over and having a plan for every situation — good or bad — helps him prepare for anything that may come his way.

For example, during the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, Phelps’s goggles broke at the beginning of the 200-meter butterfly final. Although most people would be “doomed” for losing sight in the middle of an Olympic race, which causes  panic, Phelps continued the race.  As he has mentally prepared for such a situation, it did not hold him back. Instead, he finished the race, and created a new world record to show the power of visualization and mental preparation.


As long as Phelps knows he has done his level best — by training, preparation, and pushing his own limits – nothing should bring him down, even  a lost race.  His coach, Bowman, always reminded that a good athlete must not focus on the outcome, but rather on the process.

Having the mindset of an Olympic champion, Phelps reiterates that regardless of a win or loss, as long as you are pursuing your dreams with everything you’ve got, you will never fail.

“I knew I was not a failure in any way,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you fall short. It is never a failure to go after your goals with everything you’ve got.”

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4 WINNING Secrets of an Olympic Champion

by wmd time to read: 3 min