Get Inspired in Math with the Stories of 3 Olympians

Mar 6, 2018 | Naperville
  1. Wilma Rudolph or “Skeeter” won three gold medals in track and field Olympics in 1956 and 1960. She was the first American woman to have this honor.
  2. Jackie Joyner-Kersee  competed in the 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996  Olympics and won a total of six medals in track and field- more than any other woman.
  3.  Cody Miller made the world smile in August of 2016 when he shouted with glee after earning the bronze in the 100m breaststroke.

Their accomplishments would be inspiring no matter what their background was.  But dig a little deeper into their history and you will find they weren’t always considered natural athletes destined for greatness. Each one had a physical impairment. None of them used their obstacle as an excuse to not aim high.

Wilma Rudolph wore a brace on her left leg as a child after suffering from double pneumonia, scarlet fever, and polio.  Her doctors told her she would never walk again. 

It was common to see Jackie Joyner-Kersee on the field gasping for breath, or even hospitalized, due to exercise induced asthma and extensive allergies.

Cody Miller has a birth defect, pectus excavatum, giving his chest a hollow look and reducing his lung capacity. He started swimming as lung therapy.

How Does Overcoming Obstacles in Sports Relate to Math?

Your initial challenges in math or sports, do not define your ability to achieve. Greatness comes from setting goals and working towards them. Some people underestimate the tremendous amount of work Olympians like Michael Phelps and Simone Biles put into becoming stand-outs in their sports. They say things like, “Of course they’re champions. They have ideal body types for their sport. ” Michael Phelps and Simone Biles still had to train daily with focus and determination to become great at their sports.

People make the same mistake about what it takes to excel in math. You don’t need a huge parietal lobe, the part of the brain used for math, to excel in math.  You need to exercise your brain in math frequently and with intensity.

But Aren’t Some People Just Bad at Math?

Some people do have a harder time internalizing math concepts quickly. Some students don’t learn well the way math is taught at school. But don’t make excuses for poor performance and then stop trying. Poor performance requires a strategic response. Check out our very own Mathnasium Method.

You may also want to read our article, Know the Difference between Excuses and Empathy in Math Class.


We at Mathnasium of Naperville, should be part of your strategic response, give us a call and schedule your no-risk assessment today.  630-219-0505


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