REAL WORK: THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS - ROGER BLACK
Sunday 06 June 1999
Funnily enough, I didn't really get into athletics at school - I was much happier playing team sports like rugby and cricket. I could run fast so I did race for Hampshire and England schools, but it never occurred to me that I could be Olympic material. The idea didn't appeal, I don't think I really knew how good I was.
The worst moment of my life was failing my maths A-level which meant I didn't get in to university. All my friends had gone away for their year off and I had to stay behind and do a retake. Finally I decided to join the Southampton Athletic Club where Kriss Akabusi was training and within two-and-a-half months I was running for England.
I was lucky having the talent, but I think that having parents who weren't pushy also helped. Athletics is all about inner motivation. When you race it's all about you, and my parents let me find that motivation for myself. Starting very late, at 18, also helped me maintain my excitement for the sport. I hadn't been doing it since the age of 10 so training wasn't an effort. I'd had my chance to enjoy life too.
But there's no real secret to my achievements. If you analyse successful people you'll find the same traits: hard work, a passion about what they do, a refusal to give up, learning from mistakes, discipline, dedication and a focused attitude. I think its hard to be successful when you don't know what you want to do. But once I discovered running then the answer was obvious, and it was easy to strive for my goal. Winning an Olympic medal involves a lot of pain but when people ask me why I do it the answer is simply because I love it.
Running is also about confidence, which is why the races I have won after coming back from injury have been particularly important. I won a small race in Jersey after two years not wearing spikes which was very significant for me - the following year I went on to win the European championships.
If I were to define why I'm successful now, I'd say its because I ask myself the right questions and make sure I get the right answers. Having direction and a positive attitude works. You can't just run away from where you are now if you don't know where you want to get to.
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