"Pressure is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity." - Michael Johnson

Seize the opportunity.

Aug. 26, 1999 - Michael Johnson sets 400m World Record with 43.18 seconds

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Michael Johnson breaks Butch Reynolds' 11 year standing 400m world record of 43.29 by running 43.18 at the 1999 Seville World Champs which still stands as the world record today.

Johnson formerly held the world and Olympic record in the 200 m, and the world record in the indoor 400 m. He also currently holds the world’s best time at the 300 m. His 200 m time of 19.32 at the 1996 Summer Olympics stood as the record for over 12 years. Johnson is generally considered one of the greatest long sprinters in the history of track and field. Johnson’s stiff upright running stance and very short steps defied the conventional wisdom that a high knee lift was essential for maximum speed.

"I think goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time." - Michael Phelps

Do not be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

Aug. 21, 2004 - Michael Phelps wins eighth medal at Summer Olympics in Greece

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Michael Phelps left Athens with six gold and two bronze medals. His eight total medals tied him with Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin for the most medals ever won by a competitor at a single Olympic Games.

Since then, Phelps has become the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. In Beijing in 2008, he broke Mark Spitz's record by winning eight gold medals. After his performance in London in 2012, he now has 22 medals, including 18 gold medals.

"I know what I can do so it doesn’t bother me what other people think or their opinion on the situation." - Usain Bolt

Believe in yourself.

Aug. 16, 2008 - Usain Bolt ran the 100 meters in a world-record 9.69 seconds

In the Olympic 100 m final, Usain Bolt broke new ground, winning in 9.69 s (unofficially 9.683 s) with a reaction time of 0.165 s. This was an improvement upon his own world record, and he was well ahead of second-place finisher Richard Thompson, who finished in 9.89 s. Not only was the record set without a favourable wind (+0.0 m/s), but he also visibly slowed down to celebrate before he finished and his shoelace was untied.

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Aug. 13, 1999 - Steffi Graf retired from tennis at age 30

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Steffi Graf retired while ranked World No. 3. She said, “I have done everything I wanted to do in tennis. I feel I have nothing left to accomplish. The weeks following Wimbledon [in 1999] weren’t easy for me. I was not having fun anymore. After Wimbledon, for the first time in my career, I didn’t feel like going to a tournament. My motivation wasn’t what it was in the past.” In December 1999, Graf was named the greatest female tennis player of the 20th century by a panel of experts assembled by the Associated Press. She was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004.

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Aug. 11, 1984 - Carl Lewis won his fourth gold medal of the Summer Olympics

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Carl Lewis and his agent Joe Douglas frequently discussed his wish to match Jesse Owens’ feat of winning four gold medals at a single Olympic Games and to “cash in” afterward with the lucrative endorsement deals which surely would follow.

Lewis started his quest to match Owens with a convincing win in the 100m, running 9.99 s. In his next event, the long jump, Lewis won with relative ease. His third gold medal came in the 200 m, where he again won handily in a time of 19.80 s, a new Olympic record and the third fastest time in history. Finally, he won his fourth gold when the 4 × 100 m relay team he anchored finished in a time of 37.83 s, a new world record eclipsing the record he helped set the year before at the World Championships.

"Everybody in the world has an ego. The only difference between us is we have a reason to have an ego." - Charles Barkley, on the ‘Dream Team’

#KillYourEgo.

Aug. 8, 1992 - The ‘Dream Team’ won gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain

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ROSTER: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Chris Mullen, Christian Laettner.

Head coach: Chuck Daly
Assistant coaches: Mike Krzyzewski, Lenny Wilkens, P.J. Carlesimo

The Dream Team was the first American Olympic team to feature active NBA players. Described by American journalists as the greatest sports team ever assembled, and called by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame “the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet”, it defeated its opponents by an average of almost 44 points.

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"It’s not what other people believe you can do, it’s what you believe." - Gail Devers

Believe in yourself.

Aug. 4, 1936 - Jesse Owens wins gold in the long jump at Olympics in Berlin

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It was the second of four gold medals Jesse Owens won in Berlin, as he firmly dispelled German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler’s notion of the superiority of an Aryan “master race,” for all the world to see.

110,000 spectators watched Owens slam the door on Hitler’s racist theories. In the morning, after fouling on his first two qualifying jumps, Owens finally leaped his way into the final, where he met the young German Lutz Long. Long tied the heavily favored Owens on his second jump, but Owens answered the challenge with a mark of 26’ 5 ½”, the first jump over 26 feet in Olympic history, and an Olympic record that would stand for 24 years. As Owens and Lutz walked arm in arm around the track, the German crowd roared its approval. Hitler promptly left the stadium, missing the medal ceremony.

(via athleticpoetics)

Aug. 2, 1992 - Jackie Joyner-Kersee is the first woman to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the heptathlon

Two years after winning the 1987 world championships in the long jump and the heptathlon, Jackie Joyner-Kersee won gold in both events at the Seoul Olympics. Her 7,291 points set a new world record for the heptathlon and her jump of 24’3 ” was a new Olympic best.

Four years later, Joyner-Kersee entered the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona the heavy favorite to win heptathlon gold. Now a seasoned veteran of the circuit, she led the field for the entire event. On August 2, the second day of competition, Joyner-Kersee started the day with a long jump of 23’3 “, good for first place. Prior to her final jump, though, she was run into while sprinting next to her rival Sabine Braun of Germany. Braun had defeated an injured Joyner-Kersee at the 1991 world championships, and the bump was later deemed “psychological warfare” by Bob Kersee. It was no matter to Joyner-Kersee, though: She overcame a poor finish in the shot-put by finishing the 800 meters in a respectable 2:11, which gave her a total of 7,044 points and the gold medal. It was only the seventh time that a woman had scored 7,000 points in the heptathlon, and the sixth time Joyner-Kersee had broken the barrier.

Aug. 1, 1996 - Michael Johnson won the gold medal for running the 200 m in 19.32 s

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Michael Johnson ran 19.66 seconds in the 200 m at the U.S. Olympic Trials, breaking Pietro Mennea’s record of 19.72 seconds, which had stood for 17 years. With that performance he qualified to run at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and prepared to attempt to win both the 200 meters and 400 meters events, a feat never before achieved by a male athlete.

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"I am a big believer in visualization. I run through my races mentally so that I feel even more prepared." - Allyson Felix

Mental preparation.

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