Usain Bolt – Rewire Hero of the Week

“Learning the mind is as important as understanding the body.”

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt has been dubbed the fastest man on earth and the greatest sprinter of all time. He was born on 21 August 1986 in Sherwood Content, a small town in Jamaica where his parents ran the local grocery store. As a child Bolt spent his time playing cricket and football in the street, later saying, “when I was young, I didn’t really think about anything other than sport”.  

As a schoolboy, his passion was playing cricket and, although he was fast, his height was a serious disadvantage to being a sprinter especially coming out of the blocks. As Bolt later said, “there are better starters than me, but I’m a strong finisher”. However, luckily a teacher spotted his talent and incentivised an unconvinced Bolt with a prize of a box lunch if he won the school sports day 100m race. It was an inspired incentive because according to Bolt a box lunch was “The Real Deal”.  He won the race and his journey to becoming the world’s fastest man had begun. 

Bolt suffers from scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that affects his hamstrings. It didn’t affect him much when he was young but as he grew the condition worsened and regular injuries started to prevent him from completing a full professional athletics season. Bolt turned professional in 2004 and approached the 2004 Athens Olympics with confidence. However, he was hampered by a leg injury and was eliminated in the first round of the 200m. Later Bolt said: “my spine’s really curved bad … in the early part of my career, when we didn’t really know much about [scoliosis], it really hampered me because I got injured every year”.  However, knowledge is power and by learning about the condition, and keeping his core and back strong, Bolt learned to control it to avoid injury.

Bolt said: “I’ve worked hard over the years, I’ve been injured and I’ve worked hard through it, and I’ve made it”. But hard work isn’t the only reason for his success because, as he acknowledges, “the mental aspect is very important and contributes to 50 per cent of my success”.

Before the age of 30, at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Bolt had won 19 Olympic and World Championship gold medals in the 21 events he had entered, a staggering tally that makes him the greatest sprinter of all time. This included an unprecedented triple gold medal win in the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m in three successive Olympics (Rio, London and Beijing), a feat that may well never be repeated. He has retired from professional sprinting but still holds the world record for the 100m and 200m.

His success has generated Bolt vast wealth from sponsorship deals but for over a decade he has used his celebrity and wealth to help disadvantaged young people. Early in his career, he established the Usain Bolt Foundation which aims to create opportunities through education and cultural development. The foundation has invested millions of dollars, particularly in Jamaica, into community development projects that enhance the health and education of the young people involved.

Usain Bolt is our Rewire Hero of the Week.

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in determination”

Usain Bolt

#RewireHeroes


Photo By Jmex60 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4586614 (Adapted to B&W)

Terry Fox – Rewire Hero of the Week

“I want to try the impossible to show it can be done.”

Terry Fox

Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1958. Terry wasn’t a naturally gifted sportsman but at both school and university he was successful in sport as a result of determination and hard work. He believed that the key to his success was his mental toughness.

At the age of eighteen Terry discovered he had a malignant tumour in his right leg and the leg was amputated 15 centimetres above the knee. The night before his operation, his high school basketball coach brought him a running magazine which featured an article about an amputee, Dick Traum, who had run in the New York City Marathon.  Although his future was never more precarious, Terry dreamed that night about running across Canada. “I’m competitive,” Terry said. “I’m a dreamer. I like challenges. I don’t give up. When I decided to do it, I knew I was going to go all out. There was no in-between.”

His dream defied logic and common sense and evolved into the “Marathon of Hope” – a sponsored run across Canada to raise money to help fight cancer. 

Two years after his operation, Terry started a running program initially in the dark, so no one could see him. Terry trained for 15 months, running 3,159 miles, running until his stump was raw and bleeding, running every day for 101 days, until he could run 23 miles a day. He took one day off at Christmas, only because his mother asked him. Once, just before Christmas, when he had run only a half mile, the bottom half of his artificial leg snapped in two pieces, and Terry crashed to the pavement. He picked up the two parts, tucked them under his arm, stuck out his thumb and hitch-hiked home. There, he clamped the two parts together and ran another five miles.

Throughout his run and in the months before, Terry had neglected his medical appointments. No one could force him to see a doctor for a check-up. He said he didn’t believe the cancer would come back.  On April 12, 1980, Terry dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean at St John’s, Newfoundland and began his Marathon of Hope. He ran through ice storms and summer heat, against bitter winds of such velocity he couldn’t move. Terry knew how to cope with pain – he would run through it and simply keep going until the pain went away. By September 1, 1980 Terry had run 3,339 miles through six Canadian provinces and was two-thirds of the way home. He’d run close to a marathon a day, for 143 days. No mean achievement for an able-bodied runner, an extraordinary feat for an amputee.

After running 18 miles on this day Terry started coughing and felt pain in his chest.  The pain did not stop and Terry asked to be taken to hospital where doctors told him the cancer had spread from his legs to his lungs.

Terry died aged 22 on June 28, 1981. Before he died donations to his Marathon of Hope reached $23.4 million and The Guinness Book of Records named him top fundraiser.

People haven’t forgotten Terry and every year millions of people participate in Terry Fox runs and fund raising events. In April 2020 the Terry Fox Foundation announced that over $800 million has been raised to support cancer research in his name.

“Anything is possible if you try” 

Terry Fox

#RewireHeroes


Photo Credits: “Terry Fox along North Park St” by Ross Dunn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Michael Phelps – Rewire Hero of the Week

“If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do.”

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps was born in Baltimore in 1985. At a young age Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD, one of his teachers even told him “[he] would never amount to anything and [he] would never be successful.”

That same person went on to be the most successful and decorated Olympian of all time! Phelps has won a total of 28 medals, including 23 golds. At the 2008 Olympics alone, Phelps won 8 gold medals breaking a record that had stood since 1972. In fact, Phelps has been the most successful athlete of the Olympic Games at every Olympics since Athens 2004. On top of this Phelps has set 39 world records (29 individual, 10 relay). Pretty good for a guy that was told that he would never amount to anything!

Phelps has been able to channel his energy into his passion, swimming, exploiting the positive side of ADHD. He serves as an inspiration for those with ADHD and shows us all that anything is possible, regardless of the cards that you have been dealt.

Phelps has used visualization since he was a young child. Bob Bowman, Phelps’s long-time coach, notes that “By the time Michael gets up on the blocks to swim in the World Championships or Olympics, he’s swum that race hundreds of times in his mind.” Phelps is reportedly one of the best at visualization and his use of it serves as a reminder of the importance of mental training in performance.

Recently, Phelps opened up about his struggles with depression. He shared that after every Olympics he fell into a deep state of depression, even contemplating suicide after the 2012 London Olympics. Now, Phelps understands and shares that “it’s OK to not be OK” and to improve our state of mind we need to open up about our feelings. 

Phelps shows us that no human is limited and it is important that we chase our dreams and constantly push ourselves to achieve more. Michael Phelps is our Rewire Hero of the Week. 

“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”

Michael Phelps

#Rewire Heroes


Photo By Agência Brasil Fotografias – MICHAEL PHELPS E KATIE LEDECKY CONCEDEM ENTREVISTAS NO PARQUE OLÍMPICO, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50475190

Bruce Lee – Rewire Hero of the Week

“The possession of anything begins in the mind”

Bruce Lee

Born in November 27th, 1940 in both the hour and the year of the Dragon, Bruce Lee (Chinese: 李小龍), was a Hong Kong American actor, director, martial artist, martial arts instructor and philosopher.

Bruce Lee is considered by commentators, critics, media, and other martial artists to be the most influential martial artist of all time. Lee broke tradition by mastering and then incorporating the best aspects of different disciplines to create a hybrid, formless type of martial arts that could adapt to any style called Jeet Kune Do.  Lee is often credited by many to be the “father of mixed martial arts” influencing both boxing and MMA legends such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Conor McGregor, and Jon Jones.

In film and popular culture, Bruce Lee changed the perception of eastern culture and philosophy in the western world and helped to elevate the martial arts genre in film and share the philosophy and teachings from Taoism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Buddhism.  During the course of his acting career, Bruce faced racism and prejudice being initially limited to starring in supporting roles like Kato in the Green Hornet and being turned down in leading roles like Kung Fu.  Ultimately, Lee’s determination to become the most popular martial artist and action star was realized right before his early death at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973. 

Lee’s success subsequently inspired a wave of Western martial arts films and television shows throughout the 1970s–1990s (launching the careers of Western martial arts stars such as Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris), as well as the more integration of Asian martial arts into action films and television shows during the 1980s–2000s.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”

Bruce Lee

Lee’s achievements serve as a timeless inspiration of what can be accomplished through experimentation, perseverance and self-belief which is why Bruce Lee is our Rewire Hero of the Week.

#RewireHeroes

To learn more about Bruce Lee we highly recommend this biography

Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly

And this documentary film:

How Bruce Lee Changed the World

Gertrude Ederle – Rewire Hero of the Week

“When somebody tells me I cannot do something, that’s when I do it.”

Gertrude Ederle

In 1926, Gertrude Ederle braved the rough conditions of the Atlantic Ocean to become the first woman to cross the English Channel. If not impressive enough, despite incredibly harsh conditions, Ederle also broke the all-time record by over two hours – beating all five previous men. Upon arriving back in New York, she was greeted with a ticker-tape parade attended by more than two million people. 

Aside from the her incredible English Channel crossing, Ederle had many other achievements. As an amateur athlete she held 29 US and World Records from 1921 to 1925, as well as winning a gold medal in the 1924 Paris Olympics. She also broke the record from Battery Park to Sandy Hook with a time that wouldn’t be beaten for 81 years; an annual swim, the Ederle Swim, is held at this location every year in her memory.

As someone with poor hearing herself, Ederle also gave back to the community by teaching deaf children to swim. She lived a long life to the age of 98, passing in 2003.

Gertrude’s achievements came at an incredibly important time, where female athletes were unfortunately not taken very seriously. Ederle is an inspiration to us all, showing us that you are capable of achieving your dreams regardless of who you are. Gertrude Ederle is our Rewire Hero of the week.

#RewireHeroes