By Carlo Carrubba
Is talent really a thing? Do our rivals have an unfair advantage because of genetics or is it just because of their constant drive to get better? And the question no one wants to answer… do they care more than us? To answer your question, let us look into the lives of some of the most talented *excuse me*… driven athletes of all time…
First up, is Michael Phelps. I researched him because of the drive he demonstrated while swimming, but also the fact that many say he had many physical advantages that helped him to perform at an elite level. I looked on a website called “thoughtco.com” just for a spectator’s point of view. The person who wrote this article, Chris Adams, says Michael had “more than a few physical advantages” in the pool. It also says that Michael is 6’4”, and has an arm span of 6’7”. We can all agree that this is a longer than average arm span.
However, Phelps does have some disadvantages, too. He is “on the spectrum” for Marfan’s syndrome. The symptoms of Marfan’s are a wingspan that is disproportionately long compared to your height. Another one is disproportionately long fingers. The last, most common one is a breastbone pointing inward or outward. This disease could be fatal if leakage to the vessels that lead to the heart is caused.
The second source I looked at was a video of Michael Phelps’ 200 butterfly. The first thing I noticed was the grit all of the swimmers had. Especially one of them, whose name is Tom Shields. He still finished almost a second after Michael Phelps, but he was right beside him the whole race. I could see that even though Shield’s tempo was much faster than Michael Phelps’, Phelps put more power into his stroke, and therefore, flew ahead of Tom. This was still not the area of his swimming career in which he peaked, but his time was a 1:54:84. I would say he triumphs in endurance races most of all. To go on to prove my point, Shields did manage to beat him in the 100 fly, by 0.01 second. This proves to us all that no one is unbeatable.
Now, to look at how much work Phelps put in each day… Michael trains around 5-6 HOURS a day. So, even though his body helps him to swim faster, it does come down to resolve in the end.
The second person I will look at is Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo started playing soccer for a local team at the age of 7. He trains about 3-4 hours a day and includes all kinds of workouts in his training time. Some of these are cardio, sprinting at high intensity, and, finally, some technique exercises to improve control of the ball, and skills on the field. He has won countless awards and is now playing for my favorite team, Juventus. Juventus did pay a big sum to obtain Cristiano, but the shirts that were sold, because of Ronaldo, paid off the expenses. This soccer star does not have any physical advantages on the field. He does have one disadvantage, though. At age 15, he was diagnosed with a “racing heart”. He had to have a surgery which saved him, and his soccer career.
Cristiano Ronaldo said that it isn’t enough for him to be the greatest in Portugal, but that he wants to be the greatest of all time. After he retires, he stated that he would look to see if he is one of the greatest, and thinks that he will certainly be there. There is not much left to say about Cristiano, other than the fact that he is a person who has proved that hard work
permits dreams to come true. To follow that up, I do not think this person had a talent in early ages but worked hard to acquire his amazing soccer skills. You may think Cristiano was a natural born soccer player, but really, he built himself to be one by training.
And, last but not least…
The King, LeBron James. I have researched LeBron because of his reputation as a hard worker, to prove to you all that if you want something bad enough, you can get it. Here is a quote from LeBron’s former Coach, Mike Brown: “He puts more time in than most anybody in the league,
in my opinion, That right there is a guy that understands ‘if I’m going to be the greatest ever, I can’t take a day off, a playoff.’” Mike also says that LeBron usually left after sundown, and was the last player to leave the court.
Time isn’t going to make you the best by itself if that’s what you expected. You have to include the right training. James, for example, when still playing for the Cavs, utilized their shooting coach, Chris Jent. There aren’t many people that train with LeBron’s intensity, and work ethic, therefore, there aren’t many who are built with his physique. He is yet another example of one wants to win, always. His desire to win has made him the basketball player that he is. So, this person worked to get to this level of playing, he was not born this way.
So, if you ask me whether talent is real, I would say “depends”. Talent is overrated. Talent is what you make it. It could be a physique that makes you swim faster, less lactic acid in your muscles, getting taller than other people, or starting at an early age. Talent could also not exist. If you think Michael Phelps got out of the water after breaking a world record and said “Wow that was the easiest thing I have ever done in my life”, you are wrong. As this article proves, all athletes work hard to be the best. They put in countless hours of work, of sweat, of pain, of sacrifice. Then finally, when they achieve their goal, it’s back to the lab again. So, hang in there. Keep working.
Now, for the big question, I am set to answer… is talent really a thing?
No. Not to me.