Can anyone reach Olympic standard if they work hard enough?
British opinion is divided, our poll shows, with just over a third of people thinking that with enough practice and dedication anyone young and fit could become an Olympic standard athlete, compared to a similar amount who say that the best athletes are just born that way, and no amount of practice and dedication would see them reach gold.
The poll comes with one year to go until the London 2012 Olympics begin.
- 35% of British people believe that with enough practice and dedication over enough years, anyone young and fit could become an Olympic standard athlete
- By contrast, 37% of people think that the best athletes are just born faster or more skilled, and that no amount of practice and dedication could make the average person into an Olympic standard competitor
- Optimism appears to fade with age, as just 29% of over 60s believe anyone can make it to Olympic standard with dedication, compared to 35% of 40 to 59 year olds, 40% of 25 to 39 year olds and 41% of 18 to 24 year olds
British Olympic medallist Shelley Rudman can surely give hope to the 35% of our poll who believed training and dedication can lead to a podium place. In the 2006 Winter Olympic Games Rudman won a silver medal in the Women’s Skeleton ‒ just four years after taking up the sport.
Whether or not they were born with the potential, most Olympic athletes start training from an early age. British diving star Tom Daley, who is still only 17, began diving at the age of seven and started to make an impact in national and international competitions at the age of nine. At the 2010 Commonwealth games he won two gold medals for England.
Born to run
However, it might be a case of genes for the world’s fastest man, Jamaican Usain Bolt. The Olympic Gold Medallist runner holds the World Record in both the 100m and the 200m, and revealed last year that, while cricket was his first love, ‘I just happened to run fast. They said, try track and field, and I continued because it was easy and I was winning.’