Inspiration, motivation, desire; three almost interchangeable terms which hold the power to move us from where we are to where we want to be. Like a smoldering, yet ever-present fire, sometimes white hot in intensity, the significance of these terms to the overall theme of becoming the best one can be simply cannot be denied. They “burn” from the inside out, driving you forward through just about any adversity you face.
And NCAA DI wrestling champion Anthony Robles knows all about these three terms above (Inspiration, motivation, desire), for he epitomizes their true meaning. Simply put, his actions define them.
This became even more crystal clear to me after reading the recent question and answer session with Anthony at espn.go.com. It was in this sitting with interviewer Hannon Cross that Mr. Robles indicates where his deep seated passion to win an NCAA championship came from.
Oh sure, there is a lot more to the interview than what I mention above. He discusses his reaction to the documentary “On the Mat.” That is actually a major focus of the interview as Anthony discusses how much he relates to the wrestlers in the film, their dedication, commitment, dealings with making weight, as well as his experiences as a one-legged wrestler, amongst other things.
However, it was part of Anthony’s answer to this question, “Did you feel like you had something to prove as a handicap wrestler?” and this question, “what motivates and inspires you to keep getting back on the mat?” by Ms. Cross, that really caught my attention.
His answer to the former:
"I did have something to prove especially coming out of high school because I was 96-0 my last year of high school. I was a national champion and two-time state champion in high school. With that record you would think that I would have been highly recruited but I wasn't. I got one Division I offer from a wrestling school. No one else even called me. I felt my record and hard work was overlooked because I had one leg. Coming into college I had a lot to prove to myself so I wanted to destroy everyone in my weight class. I wanted to make those coaches regret not recruiting me."
His answer to the latter:
“…The other thing that inspires me is the attention I received from kids and adults who told me that my story inspired them because I overcame having one leg. In my mind I wasn't just wrestling for a medal or a title, I was wrestling for
those who were looking to me for inspiration."
In both instances Anthony displays what many champion athletes display when it comes to what drives them to face and tackle such tough adversity.
For him, not being recruited after accomplishing such an outstanding record was like saying that he wasn’t good enough, couldn’t do it, didn’t have what it really took to make it at the next level.
For him, knowing that what he did on the mat inspired others in turn motivated him. It created a very deep desire to succeed as “it” became more about what his accomplishments meant to others rather than just being about him.
These types of circumstances exponentially impact the athlete from the inside out; they become the essence of why one is competing. And because of this, they help create an immense amount of determination, of perseverance, demolishing any obstacle that might be in the way.
A couple words of warning, never, ever tell a True Champion that they can’t, because they will.
With regard to being intrinsically motivated for a cause; simply hope that they never find inspiration to compete that goes beyond just them, for if they do, be prepared to shake their hand from second place.
And what happens when an athlete has both situations in their corner, well…I guess they become an NCAA Division I Champion able to defeat the defending champion from the year before by a score of “7-1.”