A young Felix Dolci is helped performing a gymnastics moveCredit: Felix Dolci
Credit: Felix Dolci

What I would tell my younger self: Advice from Team Canada athletes on success in sport and life

Sport is always a learning process, no matter how high of a level you reach. We asked Team Canada athletes a simple question with big answers: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?

Check out their responses to learn from the wisdom of some of the best athletes in the world. Spoiler alert–no one says they wished they prioritized the outcome over the process.

World champion breaker Phil Wizard would tell himself…

“…to not doubt yourself. That’s something that I struggled with for a very long time and still struggle with now. When I was younger I knew I was going to keep breaking regardless, but I would always doubt myself and ask: ‘Should I be doing this? Should I pursue something else?’ And I think that hesitation kind of stripped me from certain opportunities. So I would tell myself: you already know that you’re going to do it, so just commit 100%.”

  • Phil Wizard dances as a child

Olympic gold medallist rower Avalon Wasteneys would tell herself… 

“…that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. And then my other piece of advice would be: don’t be afraid to ask for help. I still really struggle with that. But every time I do it, I’m really grateful I had the courage to do it. So whether it’s a technical thing for sport, or health, or something else personal, I would just remind myself to not be afraid to be honest and share with people when I’m struggling.”

Olympic gold medallist coxswain Kristen Kit would tell herself…

“…to finish your undergrad degree! And also, I would tell myself that everyone has the same doubts. Everyone feels a bit of imposter syndrome at some point. And communicating with your teammates can help you realize that everyone is in the same boat.” [Editor’s note: literally and metaphorically in the case of the rowers!]

  • Rowing crew celebrates win

National rowing team member Curtis Ames would tell himself…

“…don’t be afraid to set lofty goals. And don’t be discouraged by anyone telling you that the odds are against you or that it can’t be done. I think setting lofty goals and doing things that are really hard is what makes the journey fulfilling.” 

  • A men's eight rowing crew competes on the water with a woman coxswain
  • Two youth rowers compete on water.

Olympic rower Jakub Buczek would tell himself…

“…to be patient and recognize that goals aren’t achieved overnight. Sometimes the path towards your success is so incremental day by day that you don’t even see the progress. You just need to have patience in that journey and not expect too much out of yourself too quickly. I think that also lends itself well to longevity in sport and enjoying the process as well.”

Wrestling world champion Justina Di Stasio would tell herself…

“…dream so big that it feels like it could never come true. If you told me 10 years ago that I’d be where I am today, I don’t know if I would believe you. But I just kept showing up, every day.”

  • Justina Di Stasio of Canada reacts after winning
  • Two youth wrestlers grapple on a green mat

Pan American Games gold medallist gymnast Félix Dolci would tell himself…

“…to enjoy the journey and the process. When I was younger, I was really keen on results, winning was really the thing that mattered to me, that was my motivation and what I was driven by. But I have learned over the years to enjoy the process, the build up, the highs, the lows, the work–all of it is really what builds you to that person you’re going to be and it’s not only the moment on the podium that matters.” 

  • Felix Dolci pumps his fists and smiles
  • Felix Dolci is assisted by a coach as a child athlete

Pan American Games silver medallist gymnast William Émard would tell himself…

“…to enjoy the little things. Right now, I realize that I am closer to the end of my career than I am to the start. My gymnastics career is not going to continue into my 50s! So I’m really trying to enjoy the little moments of being at the gym, training with my buddies, and making the most of every chance we have.”

Olympic gymnast and Pan American Games silver medallist René Cournoyer would tell himself…

“…that all the extra efforts pile up and make a huge difference over time. Focus on doing your best rather than being the best.”

World champion and Olympic boxer Tammara Thibeault would tell herself…

“…to take in every moment because as time goes by it just seems to fly by faster every second. In amateur boxing I’ve accomplished pretty much everything, I’m just missing one box [the Olympic gold]. There’s so many memories, there’s so many laughs and cries. So if I could tell myself one thing it would be to take it all in, commit to experiencing it all and just let it all happen.” 

  • A group of football players hold up a trophy while a little girl sits on the shoulders of one player
  • A mom and two kids hug each other on a green lawn.