Faster – Higher – Stronger – Together

Amy Woodgate | Head of Junior and Middle Schools

In their Latin form, these first three words were expressed at the opening ceremony of a school sports event in 1881.  Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), was present that day and adopted them as the Olympic motto at the launch of the modern Olympic Movement in 1894.  He believed that they express the aspirations of the Olympic Movement beyond just the achievements in the sporting arena, but also from a moral and educational perspective.

For the current Olympic Games being held in Tokyo, this motto has been adapted to become ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together’ as a response to the postponement of the Games from 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.  The IOC felt that it was important to recognise the unifying power of sport and the importance of solidarity in the challenging world we live in.  The IOC believes it is the message of how the world can only move forward when it moves together, with the Olympic Games having the power to unite people, communities and societies across the globe.

If you’re anything like me, you may have found yourself in front of the television or on the 7plus app quite a bit over the last week.  There is just something about the Olympics that has so many of us completely invested in the success of an athlete or team in a sport that you may actually only watch once every four, or in this case five, years.  It’s the stories of personal triumph, the struggle and the strength of overcoming hardship or an injury, of fighting back for one last chance to show talent on the world stage.  It is the stories of the families back at home who have travelled every step of the journey with their loved one. It is the passion of the coaches in the stands like we saw with Ariarne Titmus’ coach, Dean Boxall, or the footage of schools and communities gathering to support their home-grown Olympic star, like many did in Warwick this week when watching Harriet Hudson row home with her quad skulls team for a bronze medal.

The Olympics also provides us with the opportunity to learn about the character strengths, personal qualities and leaderships traits of athletes from around the world.  Leadership expert, Tanveer Naseer, has identified 4 lessons he believes we can all learn from the Olympics.

  1. Success is important, but so is creating meaning and a sense of belonging
  2. Always keep learning at the forefront of everything you do
  3. Be adaptable, but never lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve
  4. Above all else, you have to love what you do

We get to watch athletes from around the world lead their country and perform in front of millions, managing their own expectations alongside that of their nation.  For our young people, I believe, it is simply that opportunity ‘to see it if you want to be it’.  They get to see examples of grit, tenacity and comradery in whichever sport they are interested in.  They see that being a champion means having grace in both victory and defeat.  They get to learn about other nations and get to see what it truly means to unite and come together under the banner of sport, but more importantly as a community.  With Brisbane 2032 not that far away, it is the lessons learnt from these Games in Tokyo that may just inspire one of our own to set goals and work to achieve them.

The Olympic motto of ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together’ does not just have to apply on the sporting field.  It is the premise that moving forward as an individual, a local community, a school or as a nation happens when we move together.  It is the idea that if we strive for our goals, give our best and support one another as a community we can achieve so much.  The vast majority of us will not become Olympians, but I believe that this motto is something that can apply to all in whatever area we choose to pursue.

And for the next week or so, I look forward to continuing as a ‘couch expert’ in a range of obscure sports and being inspired by the stories of athletes from around the world.