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Rio-Bound Olympians Share Their Favorite Inspirational Quotes


    Gabby Douglas

    "Never doubt, only believe."

    — Gabby Douglas, 2012 Olympic team and individual all-around gold medalist (Meet the women's gymnastics team that's headed to Rio with her.)

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    Mariel Zagunis

    "The more you sweat in times of peace, the less you bleed in times of war."

    Mariel Zagunis, two-time Olympic gold medalist and world fencing champion

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    Claressa Shields

    "The one that I live by and see every day is at the Olympic training center, it's by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it says 'Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.'"

    Claressa Shields, 2012 Olympic boxing gold medalist, Up2Us Sports ambassador

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    Haley Anderson

    "'Get comfortable being uncomfortable.' My coach Dave (Dave Salo of Trojan Swim Club in LA) loves to say that and it really makes sense; the more you push yourself the more uncomfortable it will be, and really keeps me from backing down when I get uncomfortable. And when it comes down to it, if it was easy it wouldn't be worth it."

    Haley Anderson, 10K open water silver medalist, Ralph Lauren athlete

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    Paige Selenski

    "My college coach's favorite quote was, 'Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.' It kind of stuck with me over the years and is something that drives me to work hard and push myself. My teammates and I are always striving to be the hardest-working team in the world."

    Paige Selenski, 2012 Olympic Field Hockey team, 2016 alternate

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    Brenda Martinez

    "My motivational quote comes from my coach Joe Vigil, who said, 'You can have all the talent in the world, but it takes a special person with the right attitude to succeed in this world.' This statement is so true to me because I consider him more than just a coach but a life coach. He has taught me to give back and help others along the way. Always find ways to be better and bring out the best in others. Be that positive light for others and actually care. Coach Vigil is one of the reasons for my current success and I feel like it's just the beginning."

    Brenda Martinez, Olympic women's 1500m runner, New Balance athlete

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    Elizabeth Beisel

    "My go-to inspiration quote is something my coach said to me a few months back. 'It's important to give it all you have while you have the chance.' This really resonated with me because the problem with goals and aspirations is that we always say, 'Oh, I'll start tomorrow' or 'I have plenty of time.' The truth is, we don't have forever, and there is no better time than the present to better ourselves and come closer to reaching our goal."

    Elizabeth Beisel, Olympic 400-meter individual medley silver medalist

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    Laura Graves

    "Somewhere along the way, someone said to me, 'You make your own luck.' It is something that has always stuck with me, especially when I am feeling down about a particular performance. If you work hard enough, life is not about being lucky but rather about being prepared and well trained."

    Laura Graves, Olympic equestrian team

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    Ajee Wilson

    "I'm a huge Usher fan, so my senior quote in high school is from his song called 'Be.' My favorite lyric is, 'On the road to the riches, don't forget to stop to take pictures, Cause life ain't about where you finish, but what you've learned along the way.'"

    — Ajee Wilson, number-one-ranked 800m runner, Kellogg's athlete (She's just one of the super talented newcomers headed to the Olympics for the first time.)

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    Natalie Bieule

    "'The only limits are the ones we set on ourselves.' I told that to my students when I was a teacher, and it's come full circle because now I tell it to myself because look where I'm at. I'm also very impatient with my throwing and my training, so my coach always tells me, 'Rome wasn't built in a day. Learn to enjoy the process, not just the outcome.' That really stuck with me. I was so focused on what other people where doing, how do I get my name up on the rankings. And when he told me that, I just stopped looking at what everyone else was doing. And my husband tells me is 'It's you against you.' I'm not competing against anyone else, I'm competing against what I did last, not what anybody else did."

    Natalie Bieule, 2015 U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Championships gold medalist (discus), Kellogg's athlete

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    Amy Cozad

    "There's a quote painted on the wall at the CBAC Aquatic Center where I train. It says, 'Train like a champion.' It reminds me that being a champion doesn't just happen on a whim or because of luck. If you want to be a champion then you have to act like one. You have to eat, drink, recover, train, compete, and live like a champion."

    Amy Cozad, eight-time national champion platform diver

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    Jenny Simpson

    "My coach told me a long time ago before I was going into a race, 'Be hard to beat.' I love that because it is such a tough way to compete without the expectation that winning is the only way to victory. If I know the whole way that I was tough to beat then I can respect the women that do and still be proud of my own accomplishment."

    Jenny Simpson, two-time 1500-meter Olympian, nine-time USA National Champion, New Balance athlete


    Simone Biles

    "My mom has always told me to be the best me, to be the best Simone, just because whenever I'm out there on the floor, it's all up to me and whatever happens, they'll love me no matter if I win or lose or decide to quit tomorrow. It's all up to me."

    Simone Biles, three-time world all-around gymnastics champion, Kellogg's athlete

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    Julie Johnston

    "There's one quote that during the time when adversity hits, always comes in handy, 'Believe in yourself so strongly that everyone else can't help but believe in you too.'"

    Julie Johnston, Olympic soccer gold medalist, Kellogg's athlete

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    Allison Jones

    "You're not dead yet; keep pushing."

    Allison Jones, eight-time Paralympian in skiing and paratriathlon, two-time gold medalist

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    Ibtihaj Muhammad

    "I think that when we don't set limitations for ourselves—not just in sport but in life—when we truly believe that, then we can achieve anything with hard work. And once I truly started to believe within sport, I made really large jumps within fencing, thinking that I could be one of the best in the world. It took hearing it from someone else to really believe that it was this achievable goal for me.... Set lofty goals for yourself and believe that with really hard work you can achieve them."

    Ibtihaj Muhammad, five-time Senior World saber team medalist, VISA athlete

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    Ali Krieger

    "Surround yourself with good people and put yourself in uncomfortable situations and situations that are going to challenge you because that's how you grow. And that's something that I've tried to do in all aspects of my life. Surround yourself with people who will challenge you and make you better, not only in my sport but also in daily life."

    Ali Krieger, FIFA Women's World Cup champion, ZICO athlete

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    Mallory Weggemann

    "My coach always says to turn my pain into power, and dig the pain hole. 'Turn the pain into power' is a lyric from a song I love, and he always tells me to dig the pain hole, because you gotta dig that hole to get to where you want to go. That's his way of saying, 'This is going to hurt, and is this going to be painful, but there's a reason why we're doing this.'"

    Mallory Weggemann, Paralympic 50-meter freestyle gold medalist, Hershey's athlete

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    Kayla Harrison

    "I have a mantra that I say to myself. Every single night before I go to bed, I visualize myself winning my Olympics and I always say 'This is my day, this is my purpose, I'm not afriad to win. And 'failure is my fuel' for when I lose."

    Kayla Harrison, judo gold medalist

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    Jessica Long

    I'm a bilateral amputee, so my favorite quote is "the only disability in life is a negative attitude.' A lot of people see me and they right away see the fact that I don't have my legs, but I've never seen my self as disabled. A negative attitude, to me, that is a disability."

    Jessica Long, 12-time Paralympic swimming gold medalist (See why Jessica and a ton of other Olympians say they #LoveMyShape.)

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    Adeline Gray

    "'The strength and power that you have within yourself doesn't lie within a chromosome, it lies within the heart.' So just because you're a male or a female, it doesn't matter. It just matters that when you step on the mat you're being a good person, being a good athlete, being a great competitor."

    Adeline Gray, three-time world champion in women's freestyle wrestling

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    Melissa Stockwell

    "My coach once said 'You haven't come this far to only get this far.' Before a race I think of all the training days I have put in and the time away from my family and think about how I want it to pay off."

    Melissa Stockwell, three-time world champion paratriathlete, Chobani and Ralph Lauren athlete

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    April Ross

    "I love quotes, so it's hard to pick just one, but one that I go back to again and again is, 'The journey is better than the inn,' by Cervantes. My high school coach put it on a plaque for me at our senior banquet and it always reminds me to stay in the present moment and make sure I'm enjoying my journey."

    April Ross, Olympic beach volleyball silver medalist, Ralph Lauren athlete

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    Alex Morgan

    "Being as competitive as I am and always having to fight for my spot, the quote 'You are your biggest competition' has always stuck out to me because sports are as much physical as they are mental, and if you have a positive mindset that already puts you a step ahead of your opponents. So I always try to keep that in mind when I step on the field; that you are your biggest competitor, you just need to defeat yourself."

    Alex Morgan, Olympic soccer gold medalist, Chobani athlete

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    Allyson Felix

    "'To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift,' by Steve Prefontaine."

    — Allyson Felix, Olympic 200-meter gold medalist, Chobani athlete

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    Paige McPherson

    "I truly believe you have to be confident in yourself, you have to believe in yourself, you have to do the grind, you have to trust the grind, but at the same time you have to look back on all the people that have helped you. Your parents, your supporters, your coaches, everything. I truly believe it's a team effort, not just my personal effort."

    Paige McPherson, Olympic taekwondo bronze medalist

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    Maggie Steffens

    "'You are only as good as your next game' by Adam Krikorian, USA Women's Water Polo Coach. It reminds me of the importance of humility and that one game/moment does not define you. Achieving greatness is the continual effort to live out your values and bringing your very best to every opportunity—creating a pyramid of great moments with endless room to grow."

    Maggie Steffens, Olympic water polo gold medalist

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    Morgan Brian

    "Before a game, I always read the Bible. I look at my daily devotional and I really like a bunch of different Bible verses. In particular, I like Isaiah 40:31: 'But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.' It's a huge part of my life in terms of my outlook in sports and life and how I conduct myself both on and off the field."

    Morgan Brian, FIFA Women's World Cup champion, Chobani athlete


Lauren Mazzo

Lauren Mazzo is a digital assistant editor for Shape and Fitness. She's an Ithaca College alumna, a Rochester, NY, native and an NYC transplant.  More →

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