Nathan Adrian

Motivational Quotes From Famous Athletes

Featured athletes:

  • Steve Prefontaine
  • Deena Kastor
  • Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee
  • Nathan Adrian
  • Summer Sanders
  • Georgia Taylor-Brown
  • Stephen Roche
  • Greg LeMond
  • Matthew Fraser
  • Annie Thorisdottir

Sports require hard work and dedication. That’s why people, especially athletes and sports fans, usually see successes and failures in the game as a metaphor for things we face in life. Sports are packed with life lessons—realizations before, during, and after competitions.

Athletes learn so much from their mistakes and achievements, and they carry what they’ve learned to move forward, try again, and win. Glories, then, come to those who learned their lessons well—those athletes who never let failures get the best of them, those who get up every time they fall.

Let’s learn from the success stories of these athletes. Here are ten famous quotes about life and sports from world-renowned runners, swimmers, cyclists, and other successful athletes that can surely drive you to become a better athlete and achieve your dreams.

Steve Prefontaine

  1. “Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” 

— Steve Prefontaine, Professional Runner, Holder of Seven World Records

Steve Prefontaine is an American long-distance runner who wowed the world in his performance at the 1972 Summer Olympics. In 1975, Prefontaine was the holder of every American outdoor track record between 2,000 and 10,000 meters.

His untimely death in May 1975 ended his brilliant career, but his legacy would live forever. In fact, the Prefontaine Classic, one of the most prestigious track meets in the world, is still being held annually in Eugene, Oregon, in his honor.

Be reminded of Prefontaine’s legacy with one of his famous quotes emphasizing self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement in running the next time you compete. Further, always look back to where you started and just enjoy the race when struggles come your way.

Deena Kastor

  1. “The beauty of running is its simplicity; the beauty of runners is that we all have a similar drive to improve. We are either trying to run a personal best or toeing the line for the first time, which will snowball into a future of trying to run personal bests. We road racers are a tight community of mileage-happy, limit-pushing athletes.”

— Deena Kastor, Professional Runner, Olympic Medalist

Deena Kastor is one of the most decorated American female long-distance runners. She was a holder of American records in global marathons from 2006 to 2022 and an 8-time national champion in cross-country. She has the 2005 Chicago Marathon and the 2006 London Marathon to her name.

At 48 years old, Kastor remains an active professional runner. She aims to beat more national and global records through her unique “roller coaster” training backed by continuous practice of mental toughness and positivity.

Be inspired by one of Kastor’s most inspiring sports quote tackling the simplicity of running. Whether you’re a male or female athlete, let your failures and successes snowball in the future and achieve your personal best.

Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee

  1. “The glory of sport comes from dedication, determination and desire. Achieving success and personal glory in athletics has less to do with wins and losses than it does with learning how to prepare yourself so that at the end of the day, whether on the track or in the office, you know that there was nothing more you could have done to reach your ultimate goal.”

– Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee, All-Around Athlete, Greatest Athlete in Heptathlon and Long Jump

Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee is a retired African-American track and field athlete. She is considered as one of the greatest athletes in the heptathlon and long jump. Throughout her competitive career, she won three Olympic gold medals, one silver, and two bronze at four different competitions. She was once voted as the Greatest Female Athlete of All-Time by Sports Illustrated for Women.

Jacqueline actively advocates for children’s education, racial equality, and women’s rights—especially in athletics and academics. She now works on the board of directors of USA Track & Field (U.S.A.T.F).

Take one of Jacqueline’s motivational quotes with you if you’re feeling down after a failure or a mistake, so you could remind yourself to let go of your regrets and do better next time. There’s always a next time.

Nathan Adrian

  1. “It’s not who’s put up the fastest time in the world that year, or who’s put up the fastest time in the previous four years, but who can get their hand on the wall first today.” 

– Nathan Adrian, Professional Swimmer, Olympic Medalist

Nathan Adrian is an Asian-American professional swimmer with five Olympic gold medals. He was the holder of the American record in the long course 50-meter freestyle event. At press time, he has won thirty-two medals in major international competitions—twenty gold, seven silver, and five bronze.

Adrian was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent two surgeries, forcing him to stay out of competitions for a while. But this challenge didn’t hinder him from continuing his dreams. He returned to the water in May 2021.

Let one of Adrian’s famous quotes remind you that in sports, what matters is the competition in front of you. Your mistakes before are irrelevant and what the future holds only comes second. What’s important is today and how you will win it.

Summer Sanders

  1. “The things you learn from sports – setting goals, being part of a team, confidence – that’s invaluable. It’s not about trophies and ribbons. It’s about being on time for practice, accepting challenges and being fearful of the elements.”

– Summer Sanders, Professional Swimmer, Olympic Medalist

Summer Sanders was a former competitive swimmer and an Olympic champion. After retirement, she now works as a sports commentator, reporter, television personality, and actress.

The highlight of Sanders’ career was her success at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, where she won four Olympic medals: gold in the 200-meter butterfly, another gold in the 400-meter medley relay, silver in the 200-meter individual medley, and a bronze in the 400-meter individual medley.

Learning from one of Sanders’ motivational quotes, may all competitive swimmers take hard work and dedication seriously as these two are important markers of success. Be ready to face your fears and accept challenges, all the while trusting your labor and dedication.

Georgia Taylor-Brown

  1. “I’ve learned a lot from my injuries. A quote that I like to use, is that difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations. I’m doing this for a reason and the reason is that I want to win an Olympic gold medal.”

— Georgia Taylor-Brown, Triathlete, Olympic Champion

Georgia Taylor-Brown is Great Britain’s pride when it comes to triathlon, the country’s most successful female Olympic triathlete. She won the one-off sprint triathlon race in Hamburg during the 2020 World Triathlon Championship, becoming the fifth British woman to become world champion.

Brown also won the silver medal in the 2020 Olympic triathlon, the best result achieved by a female British triathlete so far, and finally won the gold medal for Great Britain in the Triathlon Mixed Relay in 2021, together with fellow triathletes Jess Learmonth, Jonathan Brownlee, and Alex Yee.

Be like Brown in your triathlon journey, get that gold medal with vision and dedication, regardless of your injuries and difficulties. Remember your reason and struggles as you compete with other athletes who want the same thing as you do.

Stephen Roche

  1. “I never want to abandon my bike. I see my grandfather, now in his 70s and riding around everywhere. To me that is beautiful. And the bike must always remain a part of my life.”

— Stephen Roche, Decorated Road Racing Cyclist

Stephen Roche is an Irish former competitive road racing cyclist. He competed nationwide and globally for 13 years, bringing various medals in cycling to his name. Roche is one of the only two cyclists in the world to bag the Triple Crown of victories in three major competitions: Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia general classification, and the World road race championship. The other cyclist was Eddy Merckx from Belgium.

As a cyclist, Roche not only takes pride in his physical abilities but also his connection with his equipment, which he claims is a part of his life. Let this famous sports quote from Roche remind you that your bicycle in cycling or other important equipment in sports should always be an extension of your body, helping you to reach the finish line.

Greg LeMond

  1. “I have always struggled to achieve excellence. One thing that cycling has taught me is that if you can achieve something without a struggle, it’s not going to be satisfying.”

— Greg LeMond, Road Racing Cyclist, Entrepreneur, Sports Advocate 

Greg LeMond is a retired American professional road racing cyclist. He is considered one of the greatest American cyclists of all time and one of the best all-round cyclists of the modern era. He now actively works as an entrepreneur and an anti-doping advocate.

LeMond is not only a great cyclist as he innovated and promoted several technological advancements in pro cycling during his entire career, particularly the entry of aerodynamic triathlon handlebars and carbon fiber bicycle frames. The technology was later marketed through his company, LeMond Bicycles.

According to one of LeMond’s famous quotes, struggles are always part of success—a success with satisfaction. You can only be satisfied if you work hard for it. As such, always remind yourself that your difficult training will lead to success.

Mathew Fraser

  1. “The one line I always like was, ‘I am going to do today what other people aren’t willing to so I can do today what other people can’t.’ Whenever I am training by myself, I am running lines like that through my head. Trusting the hard work that I am putting in will pay off.”

— Mathew Fraser, Most Decorated Professional CrossFit athlete

Matthew Fraser is a Canadian-American professional CrossFit athlete active from 2014 to 2020. He is the first-ever CrossFit athlete to win five CrossFit Games titles, all from 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 CrossFit Games. Today, he’s considered by many as the best athlete in the sport of CrossFit.

Before joining the competitive world of CrossFit, Fraser competed in Olympic weightlifting and was a junior national champion. His background helped him easily explore and dominate competitive CrossFit.

Like Matthew Fraser, always push yourself to do better and turn your competitors into goals to beat. See them as motivators that will allow you to train harder and beat your personal bests.

Annie Thorisdottir

  1. “There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, just as long as you understand you need to put in hard work to make things happen. Also, it’s key to have the right people around you to help and support you.”

— Annie Thorisdottir, Decorated Professional Crossfit Athlete

Annie Thorisdottir is a professional CrossFit athlete and coach from Iceland. She is the first woman to win the CrossFit Games twice, first in 2011 and second in 2012. She also has second-place wins in the 2010 and 2014 CrossFit Games.

Thorisdottir was applauded by many because of his immense dedication to CrossFit. To this day, she’s the first woman to get back at the CrossFit Games within a year of giving birth, from 2020 to 2021—not to mention that her pregnancy resulted in a traumatic delivery that lasted for days.

From Thorisdottir’s words, let yourself dream big while keeping the right people close to you. Your vision and the people around you can both help you train and reach your goals. CrossFit and other competitive sports always require a team, even if some are only present behind the scenes.

Inspiration or motivational quotes are one of the best methods to plant the right seeds in an athlete’s mind. On top of your commitment, dedication, and willingness, you also need inspiration. Those athletes you look up to—your heroes—can help you become better and braver with just a few words.

Learn from their experiences, and combine those life lessons with your own experiences—either from your mistakes or achievements. Words have power—they can help, heal, and humble an athlete. Even as simple as famous quotes about life and sports can motivate you to try harder.