Everyone has his own reasons trying to become a professional athlete. Some
are seeking success and victories, some are seeking exposure, some
just see it as a job that pays for their living while others take it
as way of fulfilling themselves at a personal and professional level
by doing what they love most as long as possible.
All these motivations will eventually help you reaching your goal even
if most of them are rather self-centered motivations. Unfortunately we
forget too often how our daily work can possibly influence more then
just our own life. If you try to look at the bigger picture, I highly
believe that by the end of our careers we will be prouder on actions
that helped improving the future of others then the ones that helped
improving only our own CV.
How can we, as athletes, help others and feel good about it? Very humbly, here my top 3 advices.
Be an inspiration
We all have been kids following competitions either on TV or for real.
We all had our favorite athletes, the once we felt inspired from, the
once we absolutely wanted to win, the once where in case they won’t it
felt like we won ourself and it was the best thing that happened that
day, the once we wanted to be like growing up.
I have been one of those kids.
Then I grew up, and unfortunately I found out that most of the
performances I have been looking at with admiration have been lies and
it made me feel sad and disappointed.
Over the past few years I see more and more kiddos eyes lookingat us the way I was looking at athletes back then. I think it is one
of the most rewarding look you can get as an athlete. But I don’t want
them to feel in a few years the same disappointment I felt towards my idols. So at
each of my decisions I try to ask my innerchild: « would you feel
inspired by what I am about to do? »If you are unsure about being able
to answer that question with yes, means you are probably on the wrong path.
Be a giver
Use your exposure to expose others without seeking any personal gains.
Even if we all agree that women cycling doesn’t yet get the media
exposure it would deserve, everyone of us has more or less exposure
and you should use it wisely. While most athletes see media or social
networks as an opportunity to attract more personal sponsors and
possibly better financial deals, try to be a bit different! Of course
it should help you personally but from time to time it is nice to give
The latest good example is probably the Pink Ribbon
campaign Boels Dolmans did during this years Amstel Gold Race.
Together with the help of the team sponsors, the squad went all pink
for one day. It did raise attention for the Pink Ribbon association,
but by selling on auction all our team gear ridden and worn that day
by the riders we went a little bit further then just only raising
attention. The auction brought together 51’000€ that will get
reinvested into cancer research. Of course 51000 € is a huge amount of
money and only possible because it was a team effort with great
sponsors standing behind. But does the amount really matter? A little
bit is always better then nothing and everyone of us has probably a
good cause on his mind he wants to stand up for. So just do!
Thank you so much on behalf of @pinkribbon_NL for supporting our PINK RIBBON campaign. You, or fans, supporters, partners and sponsors raised a stunning amount of….?……➡️ 51.000 euro!! ????#boelsdolmansforPINKRIBBON pic.twitter.com/pRu235bBdk— Boels-Dolmans (@boelsdolmansct) April 22, 2019
By the way. Thank you UCI for allowing world champion Anna Van der
Breggen to wear a pink world champion jersey instead of the
O-so-strict white jersey. Sometimes rules are there to be broken and
this was probably an excellent opportunity to do so. So thank you this time.
Be a voice
Don’t be afraid to stand up for your convictions. Sometimes you might
feel like you are the only one thinking this or that but you are not.
Mostly it is only because no one dares going public with maybe
controversial ideas. Don’t get me wrong I don’t ask everyone to start a
revolution. Of course your remarks should have a minimum of good sense
but there shouldn’t be any taboos. Be prepared to knock on a lot of
closed doors, but keep going until you find one that opens. If we
speak out today, the next generation doesn’t have to be afraid
speaking out tomorrow and maybe more important we help preventing the
next generation taking unnecessarily risks for their health and future
life. I would f.ex. like to thank Lea Kirchmann for her latest
Voxwomen blog where she points out to the rather alarming trend of low
body weight in cycling. It is probably one of those topics where
everyone knows it isn’t good but no one does something about it. I
would love to see teams take a bit more responsibilities when it comes
to riders which are at risk to develop an eating disorder (let’s not
hesitate to name it by its name). It is a disease and has longtime effects on the person’s health largely exposed in Leah’s blog. If you really care about your rider and
her health please don’t let them race but offer them help instead!
Now that you hold all the cards to help others what are you planning to do?