Sport follows the laws of the cycle of life: everything has a beginning and an end. While there are figures that seem eternal because we have made their triumphs our joys, their journey will eventually end. Nothing is eternal. And the fan must maturely respect these cycles, evaluate each stage in the athlete’s career and try to understand the circumstances surrounding the moments. They say you don’t appreciate what you have until you stop. In sports, this becomes apparent in the last segment of a career.
Inevitably, over the years, new figures emerge with potential yet to be unleashed. With a theoretically bright future, but it will only be written by daily efforts. Young athletes are inspired by their role models, who they try to emulate in the hope of following in their footsteps in the future. You must let these young people go their own way. Nothing puts more pressure on a beginner’s shoulders than the shadow of a legend, the constant comparisons to the beacon that may have lit them up. If you dream of following in the footsteps of the best, world and Olympic champions, or pursuing goals that no one else has achieved, let those ambitions grow naturally.
A few dedicated athletes come to mind with their successor heirs, athletes who compete with or share costumes with their idols. The most striking example we have is very present in recent weeks. Spanish tennis is experiencing a historic era thanks to the legendary career of Rafael Nadal, who in his own right has become one of the greatest athletes of all time. He is one of the icons of modern sport and an eternal figure in the history of Spain. The arrival of Carlos Alcaraz on the track with a superb push before he turned 20 prompted comparisons between the two. Let’s both walk in peace.
At the same time, my mind remembers such figures as Sergio Garcia and John Rahm; Sergio Rodriguez and Ricky Rubio; Andres Iniesta and Pedri; or Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez. Admiration is a very personal, almost intimate side of the athlete, whose motivation must remain in the personal sphere of the athlete. There is no external pressure. In the women’s section, something similar happens with Amaya Valdemoro and Alba Torrens; Gemma Mengual and Ona Carbonell or, for example, Garbiñe Muguruza and Paula Bados. At a time when social media and spontaneity weren’t as strong, these athletes were able to develop their careers more calmly than their successors. Comparisons have not been as consistent and this demand for performance on an already charted path has been left in the background.
On the other hand, many of these young people have before their eyes the opportunity to be inspired, get recommendations and not be pioneers in their discipline. Someone showed them the way earlier, taught them that it is possible to achieve the goal, opened their minds to start acting to achieve it. They tend to grow up with more self-confidence, without that fear of the unknown, debuting even before their own idols. But the task of career development is not only about illusions. Work, discipline and daily effort still play a key role.
What should referents think or feel? What respect should successors show? Both share a passion for the sport they play, have natural talent and push themselves to the limit to get results. This ability to overcome difficult moments and enjoy the sport will change their careers. Referents and successors will or will not cross in the history of the sport. We will help them achieve this in a simple way: let them be satisfied with their daily efforts.
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