Hardwork beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard


The recent World Athletic Championships in London got me discussing the nurture versus nature debate with friends.

‘Not again’ I can sense you thinking to your selves!

I am not by any means an expert in this field, nor do I intend to argue against other writing about this subject, such as ‘The Talent Code’ by Daniel Coyle or ‘Sports Talent – How to identify and develop outstanding athletes’ by Jim Brown to name a couple of many books on this subject!

Identifying your talents

Personally I am not sure what to believe, but it got me thinking about my own training and success in sports over the years and if there is a sport, that I can do, that I would be world class at. Maybe not at my age now! It also got me thinking; ‘does everyone have a talent / talents that if you train hard then you would become world class? How do you then identify these talents?’

For some people it is easy as they may follow in their parents footsteps and participate in the same activities they did. That would make me think that they have the genes to be able to compete at high level in that sport. They may however, have the talent but not be interested in that sport. However if nurtured properly and with lots of hard work they could be world class.

Still haven’t found what I am looking for!

For me, I know that I am no good at a lot of team sports, such as rugby, football etc. I got to a high standard in my karate club, but was nowhere near good enough to compete at national / international level. I enjoyed cycling time trialling when I was younger. My standard was middle of the pack and even with more training I would never be the build I would need to be to compete at the top levels. At 15.1/2 stone (217lbs) I would never be good in cycle racing….as soon as I got to the first hill I would be dropped! And as for running…..I am not fast enough to be any more than mid-pack in shorter races, and maybe further back in long distance marathon / ultra events! However when I am interested in a sport, I have a tendency to become obsessed with it and put everything I can into it. If it was purely down to hard work then I would be performing at a higher level than I am now. None of my family have reached high levels in anything as far as I am aware, and even my children are not interested in sports of any kind!

Wolf in sheeps clothing

How many times have you been waiting at the start of a race and noticed someone turn up in a pair of cargo shorts, old tattered training shoes and a cotton vest, not looking anything like an athlete, only to find them whooping you ass and finishing a lot quicker than you. Why they have never been talent spotted or worked harder to get to the highest standard? If you can rock up at a marathon with little training and run 3hours 15 minutes  then what could you achieve with a lot of hard work and specialized training? For me, even with a hell of a lot of work I could never achieve 3.15!

Others only discover their talents later on in life. Look at some of the top ultra-marathon runners, especially the female competitors such as Mimi Anderson, Nikki Spinks and Lizzie Hawker for example. They have all stumbled upon the sport and realised how good they are.

Definitely cannot dance!

Anyway…back to me…..I doubt that I will ever find my talent as far as sport goes. Maybe I don’t have any and my talent lies elsewhere such as playing musical instruments (….nah!)…..or dancing (…definitely not!) …I definitely cannot sing, or maybe something educational or business related? I wish I knew. It is probably too late now (at 55) for me to discover what I am talented in whether that be sporting or otherwise…unless I stumble upon it!


Have any of you found out by accident that you have a talent later on in life? If so, did you nurture it to become the best you can?

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