An athlete’s life at the top can be short and one where the window of opportunity may only be open for a fleeting moment.
Make your chances and take your chances. Seize the day. Live in the moment. You never know when it will all end.
So say Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Adam Peaty and Ranomi Kromowidjojo, former triple world and Olympic gold medallist.
For Chad Le Clos, it is also about adjusting after disappointment, the South African hurting badly after losing his 200m butterfly crown at last year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and then making changes that can help take him back to the top of the podium.
The trio gave their tips from the top.
ADAM PEATY – OLYMPIC, WORLD, EUROPEAN, COMMONWEALTH 100M BREASTSTROKE CHAMPION & WORLD RECORD HOLDER
“Grab opportunity by both hands – literally just grab it and hold on to it because you never know when it’s going to be your last.
“So at Olympics, yeah, (I thought) it’s my first Olympics but it could be my last so I am going to go out there and swim as fast as I can, I don’t care what anybody, does, says, or swims next to me or what time they are going I am just going to go out there and get it.
“You hear people say I’ll be good in four years time – why not be good now? If you start being good now and start being world class now then it will come even quicker so for me that is the ethos I’ve always had.
“I never take anything for granted – I have always respected and felt I’m so lucky to be here while people are back at home in a 9-5 job for example.
“So I am very, very lucky to be in the situation I am in and every day I wake up like even though you are tired, you’re sore, you’re happy and as long as you are happy keep going.”
RANOMI KROMOWIDJOJO – FORMER 50M & 100M FREESTYLE OLYMPIC CHAMPION, THREE OLYMPIC & WORLD TTILES
“I think it’s more than just being in the pool at the right time and being in training and then you go home. Being an athlete is 24 hours a day.
“I think ensure your character (is right) when your coach is not looking and that is the most important thing – being committed to yourself, your team, your coach, training partners.
“Those opportunities they come for everybody but you have to look for it and you have to be there for it – it’s maybe just a tiny second and then it’s away so grab it with both arms and embrace it. Everybody gets opportunities but you have to see it and take it otherwise it’s too late.
“The most important thing is to keep loving yourself and keep calm. I know why I swim – I swim because I love it and of course I want to be the best again. I love swimming and I love the hard work and the sweat and the tears and everything but the main reason (is) I love to be in the water – if it’s gone I quit.”
CHAD LE CLOS – FORMER OLYMPIC 200M BUTTERFLY CHAMPION & FOUR-TIME MEDALLIST, THREE WORLD TITLES
“I was more angry at it (200 fly in Rio). I was disappointed and super angry at the fact I had trained so hard and done everything well and a couple of things didn’t go my way. I’ll make no excuses about it, it is what it is and it happens but it just sucks that it had to happen at that time of my life where I really wanted to win.
“I assessed a lot of things and I’ve changed so much. I have done so many things differently in terms of my approach to swimming and my approach to training, a more professional approach. I’ve got a proper gym programme, proper dry land programme, specific work that I am doing in the pool where I know what I’m doing. It’s not just killing it every day, it’s specific training and very specialised for what I want to do.
“I just want that winning feeling back. If you can give your best and know you have given your best and come second, third, fourth or fifth, then I’ll be happy with that.”