Win and forget, lose and forget

The European champion and World Championships bronze medallist talks about her move to the USA and what challenges she has faced in the past year. 16 Jan 2015
Vanessa Low long jump 2014 Athletics Grand Prix Berlin

Vanessa Low jumped 4.19m in the long jump T42 at the 2014 IPC Athletics Grand Prix event in Berlin, Germany

ⒸLuc Percival

I improved because I believe in myself and in what I do. I trust my coach and the progress.

I thought a new coach by my side, a new environment, a new training group and a different kind of training would be enough to make me a different athlete, well even a different person.

I was wrong. I won’t lie.

I had the toughest time of my entire life. I usually am a person who needs peace and harmony. Every single little fight is getting me out of inner balance. And last year was packed with fights. Fights regarding my visa, fights with my coach and other different characters, fights with sport officials, … I felt I got treated unfairly, I thought I was right and they were wrong.

The years’ before my move I had to experience some losses. Losses in sports, losses in my private life and I felt stuck. That’s why I moved to the States, started a new life in a new environment and expected to find happiness again. The problem was being emotionally stuck doesn’t get solved by moving places.

While you put your good experiences in your pocket, we put the bad ones in our heart. It goes to our heads and eats us up piece by piece. Losses never leave us the same.

Yes, moving helped me walk away from things and people, which obviously didn’t make me happy, but being somewhere else I still was the same person and this was actually the bigger problem. The old problems disappeared but new ones came up.

I am not proud of this but I have to admit I was spending hours cussing and complaining about how life is unfair and how hard my situation is. But soon I figured out that this wouldn’t get me anywhere and would not make me any happier or a better athlete.

Training here made me improve, actually made me improve a lot. People started asking why. Sure my training was different and yes, I wasn’t working 45 hours a week in addition to my training, so I could focus on my sports. On the other hand, we have difficult training facilities, I do not have any access to physio therapy or sport doctors and my funding got cut. So what made me run faster and jump that much further?

I am now able to name it: I made a mental transformation. My coach isn’t just a coach to me, he is a mentor. In his very own (and often hard) way he made me change my attitude. He taught me how to move on. Win and forget, lose and forget. If you win take the confidence out of it, if you lose take it as an opportunity to learn.

Stop worrying what other people think.

The most important person in your life is you. So the most important opinion about yourself is the one from yourself. Let all your opponents get caught up in other people’s opinions, but not you.

“Show me a guy who is afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.”(Lou Brock) I was one of these guys. I cared so much about how things I did or wore made me look instead of doing what I believe in and what I feel good about. You can try to please all the people around you but you will never succeed. I promise they will find things to dislike and make you feel small.

Stop making yourself small. Each and every single time you judge yourself you break your own heart. Be patient with yourself, just as patient as you would be with your best friend. Nobody is perfect and life is a succession of losses. Take them as they come and do not allow them to build up. The sooner you face them, the sooner you get the weight off your chest. One little failure often is an easy lesson but once you start making an inner staple of failures, the combined weight may cause you to break.

I improved because I believe in myself and in what I do. I trust my coach and the progress. I am good to myself, just as good as I am to my loved ones. I set myself priorities and I try to stick to them. I am working hard in training but also mentally.

This new life and often difficult situations made me grow and learn. I am not there yet but I am on my way to becoming a better athlete and a better person because I love myself and I love what I do.