Tennis champion and world number one, Rafael ‘Rafa’ Nadal, visited Aspire Academy on Sunday, fresh from his victory at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, to advise students on the road to sports stardom.
Only the second male tennis player to achieve a Career Golden Slam, Nadal attributed his incredible record to a positive mental attitude and a love of his chosen sport. “The only advice I can give young and aspiring sportsmen is to fight with a positive attitude, until the very last moment,” said Nadal.
“On the days you’re not feeling your best and just want to go home, push through and give it all you’ve got because it is by getting through those moments that you become a winner.”
Having begun playing tennis at the age of three, Nadal told the crowded auditorium that it is with hard work that amateur players will develop successful sporting careers. “I believe that most of the work I’ve put into my career was between eight and 21-years-old, because after you become professional and play matches every week you have less time to prepare yourself. If you manage to maintain the right attitude on top of all the pressure, it will be very difficult to become a successful professional but, without the right attitude, it’ll be impossible,” he said.
Recalling how he trained for up to nine hours a day in his early years, when asked by a student how much training he puts in these days, Nadal said, “A sports career isn’t forever. It lasts for a short period of time so it’s in this time where you will have to work the hardest, after which you will have more time to enjoy lots of different things.”
When asked by another student how he has stayed motivated throughout his career, Nadal said, “It’s not going to be easy. Everybody, including me, has their bad moments, and the most important thing is to go back to basics when that does happen. Start again from the beginning with the right attitude and then you will overcome a tough situation because the happiest victories for me have been when I came from a low moment.”
Attributing a positive mental attitude to keeping in top form he added, “It’s important to understand that in a sporting career you can’t always be on top. Sometimes you will be on the bottom, but you have to work every day at getting back to the top. It’s a step-by-step game and my experience says that if you are able to keep working with a positive attitude, you will get back to the top of your game.”
Aspire Academy’s student-athletes were clearly enthralled by the presence of such an illustrious and inspirational visitor.
“It is an honor for us to host Rafa at Aspire to speak to our young athletes,” said Ivan Bravo, Director General of Aspire Academy.
“He represents the highest values intrinsic to sporting excellence such as passion, hard work, discipline, determination, fair play, humility, and generosity. He is the world’s number one player, but he’s also an inspiring figure for millions of young sportsmen around the world. We tell our talented players that if there is one person they can look up to, try to learn from, and imitate, then Rafa is that person. He is a wonderful role model.”
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