Never be afraid to crash: Walker
Olympic BMX silver medallist Sarah Walker believes you should never be afraid to crash.
The guest speaker at last night's Nelson Sports Awards said the message applied quite literally to her sport but extended to all aspects of life.
It applied to everyone, not just sports people, or just BMX riders," said Walker. "It is not being afraid to fail."
The event held at Annesbrook Church was a chance for all finalists - Nelson's top athletes, coaches and administrators - to be celebrated in front of their peers. Lawn bowls gathered a golden kitty. The sport picked up five awards with Jo Edwards named the supreme Sportsperson of the Year.
Walker, 25, spoke of what it takes to get to the elite level, where many of the finalists are operating. She spoke of four pillars she uses to guide her sporting endeavours; setting goals, believing in yourself, not being afraid to fail, and being proud of yourself no matter what the result.
Walker said one of the most important but hardest things to confront, in any situation, is to do your absolute best and to find your best not good enough.
"That can be really hard to deal with. But understanding that is a possibility allows you to then go to that place where you can give it your absolute best.
"If you are too afraid to crash then you won't quite make it."
Walker has learned that lesson the hard way. She has crashed and she has failed. Her goal at the 2012 London Olympic Games was to bring home gold for New Zealand. Three months out from competition she crashed, hard.
"It was extremely painful and way too close to the Olympics," said Walker. She dislocated her shoulder and, for a time thought her Olympic dream may be over, with the injury possibly requiring surgery. Fortunately, Walker was given a reprieve but it came with a caveat: if she crashed again, her Olympics would be over.
"Every day I rode my bike I had a choice. I could take it easy, play it safe and make sure I got to the Olympics, or I could put it all on the line every day at training, risk crashing and get to the Olympics in the best shape." Walker's goal was to win the gold medal. She truly believed that if she put the work, the gold medal would be hers. She was not afraid to fail.
"I got a silver medal at the Olympics based on the fact I gave it my absolute best. I am proud of that fact.
"I know I gave it my best shot and silver was the best I could get. But the feeling of pride from giving your best is way stronger than the result itself."
- © Fairfax NZ News