Brenda had only recently started to take high jumping classes, but her coach could notice that this young girl has a strong determination to reach her goals. One of them was to represent her country on the highest level and to become an Olympic champion.
Brenda's coach suggested that she watch track and field athletes competing in the Olympic games happening in Tokyo, Japan. The coach said that it would be good if Brenda could find a role model for herself.
In the training sessions the following week, Brenda was jumping higher than ever before, and her coach was very pleased with the results.
"Where did you get all this motivation?", the coach asked.
Brenda said, "I found myself a role model!"
"Really? Who is it that you admire so much?"
Brenda said, "It's this guy, named Mutaz Essa Barshim. He's a really good athlete and he has such a strong will to win, but I can tell that he also enjoys the game. He's been competing for over 20 years, and he still practices every day."
Brenda's coach said, "I bet he inspired you to do better."
"He did," Brenda said. "I want to become like him."
"Do you think one day you could be as good as him?" Brenda's coach asked.
"Definitely!" Brenda replied with confidence.
One day, after a competition, Brenda walked into a shop to buy herself some food. Something on the shelf caught her attention. There was Mutaz Barshim's book, with his autograph! Brenda couldn't believe her eyes. She immediately ran to the salesperson and asked him if this was really signed by Barshim. The man confirmed that it was and asked if she wanted to buy it? Brenda replied that she would love to have it and would be more than willing to pay for it since it seemed like a real collector's item.
Brenda bought the book, put it under her arm, and left with a huge smile on her face. She couldn't wait to go home to read it, but the train ride was going so slowly. Finally, Brenda got off the train and ran to her house. Once there, Brenda told her mom that she had something important to do and that she would be in her room reading.
Brenda's mom smiled at her daughter and said, "As long as you will be reading!"
Brenda smiled back at her mom and went into her room. As soon as Brenda closed the door behind herself, she started reading Mutaz Barshim's book. She was reading about his life story and how he became such a strong athlete. At every part where he was talking about his struggles, Brenda could see herself in him. They both had a strong will to win, even though they both often had to go through some tough moments.
Brenda understood what he meant by having fun while competing for over 20 years. She also knew what it felt like when you didn't win a competition. Those moments are as important as the winning ones, because they teach you what not to do next time around!
Brenda felt like she was reading about a completely different person, but she was also reading about herself. She knew that she would like to keep the book forever and that she will treasure it for the rest of her life.
At dinner, Brenda's mom asked her about the book.
"I just wanted to get better before," Brenda said, "but this book has changed the way I think."
Brenda's mom smiled, "I am so happy that you liked the book. And I am even happier to hear that it has changed the way you think."
"It has," Brenda said, "I know what my motivation is now. I want to become a champion like Mutaz Barshim.
"You will! I have no doubt in my mind that you will achieve your dream."
"Thank you so much for all the support Mom. It means the world to me!"
Years later, during the National Championship, Brenda saw Mutaz Barshim in person for the first time! Brenda had been waiting for this moment all her life. She walked up to him with a huge smile. She introduced herself and told him about how she had been inspired by him these past few years.
Mutaz Barshim told Brenda that he was happy to hear that and signed the trophy Brenda had won that day! Brenda couldn't believe it! She hugged her trophy close to her chest and couldn't stop smiling!