4 Great Sports Legends Inspire You to Test Your Limits

Find Your Calling After Reading About These Famous Sports Icons

Pele and Soccer. Credit: Pictorial Parade / Stringer/Getty Images

Many sporting legends have climbed the ladder of success after going through a lifetime of hardships. Lack of facilities, lack of money, and physical deformities are just a few of the obstacles. By sheer grit and hard work, they ploughed through difficult times. Sometimes they went without food. At other times, they had no roof above their heads.

Here are my top 4 favorite sports icons that made a difference to the world. They continue to be the source of inspiration, not just for excellence in sports, but also for their tenacity that helped them overcome their hardships. Read these motivational sports quotes from the best players in the world.

1. Pele
Iconic Brazilian soccer star Pele, one of the greatest soccer legends, grew up in poverty in Sao Paulo. To augment family income, Pele performed odd jobs such as polishing shoes or working as a servant in tea stalls. A sock stuffed with rags would serve as his soccer ball. Pele went on to become one of the greatest soccer players. Success was sweet, but it was not without struggle.

Some of my favorite Pele quotes are:

  • Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string.
  • A penalty is a cowardly way to score.
  • Everything on earth is a game. A passing thing. We all end up dead. We all end up the same, don’t we?
  • Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.

2. Usain Bolt
Lightning fast sprinter Usain Bolt is from Jamaica -- a country that is among the poorest in the world. Growing up, Bolt had to face hardships like most children in his village. Resources were scarce. Though many athletes came from the tiny village of Trelawny Parish, the tracks were grassy patches, and shoes non-descript. Street lights were few and far between. Running water ran dry frequently.

Arguably the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt is the king of the running track, the first man in Olympic history to win both the 100-meter and 200-meter races in record timing. Usain Bolt's meteoric rise to fame came from small beginnings. 

Here are some brilliant gems of inspiration from a man of humble origins.

  • A lot of legends, a lot of people, have come before me. But this is my time.
  • I don't think limits.
  • It was not perfect but I'm very happy. It could have been better, but I'm now looking forward to my second race of the season.
  • Worrying gets you nowhere. If you turn up worrying about how you're going to perform, you've already lost. Train hard, turn up, run your best and the rest will take care of itself.
  • I told you all I was going to be No. 1, and I did just that.

3. Michael Phelps
Swimming superstar Michael Phelps was not a fish born in water. At 7 years of age, Phelps was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD results in impulsive behavior, constant fidgeting, and a lack of focus on anything for a prolonged period. Phelps needed a release for his hyperactive energy, and swimming was his liberation. 15 year old Michael Phelps went on to become the youngest American male swimmer in 68 years to compete at the Olympic Games. With 22 Olympic gold medals, Michael Phelps is one of the highest grossers of Olympics gold. 

Some of my favorite Michael Phelps quotes:

  • You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.
  • If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren't willing to do.
  • And, you know, being able to wear the stars and stripes, when you step up on one of the blocks or, you know, when you step off of an airplane or when you hear the national anthem play, you know, it's one of the greatest feelings in the world because you know that there are people at home who are supporting you and watching you.
  • I think goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time.
  • I want to be able to look back and say, ‘I’ve done everything I can, and I was successful.’ I don’t want to look back and say I should have done this or that.
  • So many people along the way, whatever it is you aspire to do, will tell you it can’t be done. But all it takes is imagination. You dream. You plan. You reach.

4. Michael Jordan
Was Michael Jordan blessed with the physical attributes that make a basketball legend? On the contrary, Jordan had trouble making it to the school varsity team. Imagine what would happen if Michael Jordan had just given up and walked away? Today, we regard Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time. But every oak tree started out as an acorn. Michael Jordan did too.

The following quotes by Michael Jordan will inspire you:

  • I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.
  • Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
  • If you quit once it becomes a habit. Never quit!
  • I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
  • What is love? Love is playing every game as if it's your last!
  • If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.