Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet one of my all time sporting heroes, Edwin Moses.
For those of you who don’t know him, he was the greatest 400m hurdler that ever lived.
He won 122 consecutive races and he was unbeaten for 9 years, 9 months and 9 days.
He won 2 Olympic gold medals in 1976 and 1984, America boycotted Moscow 1980 otherwise he would have had 3, and he set the world record 4 times.
Unbelievably, he ran his first competitive 400m hurdles in March 1976 and 4 months later won the Olympic gold medal in his first International Competition, where he set his first world record.
He said when he ran his first 400m race he had no plans to go to the Olympics, let alone win the gold medal. After the race he thought his time was good enough for him to at least go to the go to the US trials and try and qualify. After he won the trials he thought ok, maybe I can go and win this.
There was no great dream of winning Olympic gold that had driven him for years.
I was fortunate to hear him speak on Winning Mentality, using his approach which he called Quantum Performance.
He said “winning is about the little things that you do every day, it’s not a one time thing, its not about big changes, its about making small improvements in everything you do each and every day”.
What was interesting to me was that he never actually spoke about winning or thinking about winning.
His approach was all about preparation, hard work, measuring every aspect in order to get himself into the best physical shape possible. He said that he knew if he could do that, then he would be able to win.
It was also interesting to hear that he wasn’t the fastest or the most talented of athletes, he said he didn’t posses natural talent or raw speed. Everything he had, he had developed, and he just worked harder than anyone else.
He was one of the first athletes to train 8hrs a day, one of the first to include extreme stretching into his work out, he used cross training techniques including hill training and cross country running.
He said many other athletes tried to copy his routine, but they gave up after a couple of weeks, as they found it was just too much hard work.
He said he had no fear of hard work, this was something that had been instilled into him by his father, and this was one of his key competitive advantages, not natural talent.
He studied physics at university which gave him the aptitude to analyze every aspect of the race and running techniques to look for any advantages. He said he measured everything looking for any opportunity to shave a 10th of second off his time.
This allowed him to develop a technique where he ran the race with a thirteen stride pattern between each hurdle, rather than the standard 14 stride pattern. This meant he was taking one stride less, but more importantly allowed him to take each hurdle with the same leading leg, whereas other runners had to alternate there leading leg as they jumped the hurdles. This approach required him to be in supreme physical condition, but as he said “if you don’t fear hard work, thats not really a challenge”.
According to Ed Moses winning mentality is all about hard work, dedication and determination.
Its not about talent, it’s about how you apply yourself.
This is a sentiment that I fully agree with.
As I said at the start, yesterday I had the chance to meet one of my all time sporting heroes.
Often this can lead to disappointment, when you feel that they don’t quite live up to the image we have of them.
With Edwin Moses this was not the case, after our meeting, I had even more respect for him,
He truly is a role model; humble, hard working and down to earth, oh and coincidentally one of the greatest athletes ever to have lived.
He is a lesson to us all.