In the first Olympic Games in the modern era (1892) there were no female competitors and it has taken until 2012 for the historic moment to arrive when every nation competing in the Olympic Games have fielded female athletes (44% of all athletes).
All 205 competing nations at London 2012 had at least one female athlete. After months of discussion, Saudi Arabia allowed Sarah Attar to compete in the 800m. Undoubtedly these women will be inspiring a generation. Added to that, the organisation LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) - who are responsible for preparing and staging the London 2012 Games - is comprised of 52% females.
In the XXX Olympiad, Team GB women really came to the fore winning 29 of Team GB's 65 medals and 11 of the 29 Gold medals. Team GB Women would be 7th in the Gold medal table if they competed as their own country! Team USA women won the largest percentage of their medals (27 of 41 Team Gold's and 54 of their 95 total medals).
And we had some fantastic stories, from the perseverance of Katherine Grainger - 4 Olympics before she claimed her first Gold in the Women's Double Skulls, to Jess Ennis the 'poster girl' of the Games winning Gold in the Heptathlon, to Nicola Adams winning Gold in Boxing's Women's Flyweight - the first time Women's boxing has been an event at the Olympic Games.
So what do these winners have in common? They all demonstrate four key elements of mental toughness, an ability to perform under the pressure of the spotlight of the greatest show on earth, whilst maintaining their focus, motivation and belief. Kath Grainger was able to maintain her motivation and focus through three previous Games in which she came so close to Gold with 3 silver medals. She was able to both bounce back with an increased determination to win that elusive Gold and remain focussed on the processes that would give her the best chance of winning rather than focusing on the three silvers.
Jess Ennis not only had the pressure of competing in the tough Hepthalon, comprised seven events over two days, but had the added pressure of being the poster girl of the London 2012 Games. She was able to really thrive on all of that pressure and use it to enable her to reach her potential. Nicola Adams really demonstrates pure self-determination or intrinsic motivation, in other words boxing because she really loves it. All of her training and competing was largely done without the lure of winning an Olympic Gold medal, because up to London winning the bid for the Games, women's boxing was not an event in the Olympics. And all three had complete belief in themselves. From our research into what it takes to be a high performing woman, self-belief was a consistent factor.
All of the above aren't unique skills required of top women performers; they are critical to success of anybody in the world of sport and business. You will also see these displayed in the Paralympics.
So what are you doing to develop your personal resilience and that of those around you?
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