Olympians credit their success to diverse sports

It seems more and more professional athletes these days are crediting their international success to having played a variety of sports during childhood.

The most recent testimonies come from a pair of Canadian Olympians, Lizanne Murphy of the women’s basketball team and Rhian Wilkinson of the bronze medal-winning women’s soccer team. In a recent Montreal Gazette article, they tell John Meager that the key to their achievement lay in playing a number of sports in their youth instead of focusing on just one.

Murphy says her parents’ decision to enroll her in a number of sports gave her a wider variety of athletic skills and helped her enjoy her sports more:

“My parents must have had a plan in what they were doing,” Murphy added, “because all of the sports that I’ve done – swimming, diving, water polo, soccer and gymnastics – it was to help with coordination and your body awareness. . . . For younger kids, the most important thing is to get enjoyment out of your sport. You really have a lot of time to specialize to buckle down and train when you’re a little bit older.”

Wilksinson agrees, adding Canadian kids should take advantage of the diversity of sporting opportunities available to them in Canada:

“We’re very blessed here (in Canada). Someone said the kids here will probably choose hockey if you force them to choose. That’s our biggest sport here. But we were so blessed . . . to have so many sports to choose from.”

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