6 Potential 2020 Olympians Reveal How They Stay Confident

by Syeda Khaula Saad
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Confidence doesn't always come naturally. You'll often hear from other people in your life that everyone gets a little insecure sometimes, but when you're really struggling to stay confident it can be hard to believe that you're not alone. Luckily, six potential 2020 Olympic athletes are here to tell you that you're definitely not alone.

Bustle recently had the opportunity to sit down with six impressive athletes — Ashima Shiraishi, Alex Johnson, Jordan Burroughs, Eric Kynard, Tom Schaar, and Brighton Zeuner — who are competing to qualify in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo at a media summit hosted by U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee at Twitter Headquarters. At the one-year-mark before the 2020 Olympics, the athletes opened up about their insecurities and how they stay confident while they're training, competing, or living their everyday lives. And while they are all accomplished and determined athletes, they aren't afraid to admit that they don't always feel their best and that there are steps they have to take and self-pep talks they need to give whenever they have a bad day or feel insecure.

Here are the ways these rock climbers, track and field stars, skateboarders, and wrestlers, get — and stay — confident.


Ashima Shiraishi (Climbing): Remember Your Self-Worth

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Ashima Shiraishi is an 18-year-old American climber who TIME once called the best female rock climber ever. And while that may seem like enough to make someone feel irrevocably confident and capable, Shiraishi, who's a member of the 2019 U.S. National Climbing Team, says that's not always the case.

"I feel insecure all the time," she tells Bustle. "And during those times, it gets rough. But you gotta find certain motivators and remember that you really do have a lot of value. [...] Of course everyone has their ups and downs, but you gotta just keep pushing and remember sometimes it's OK to have bad days, but don't be too tight on yourself. It's OK to give yourself some slack."


Alex Johnson (Climbing): Remind Yourself That You Are Talented

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Alex Johnson is no rookie to the Olympics or her sport. With two gold medals and a decade of competition experience under her belt, she knows her way around the ropes (and rocks). But even Johnson admitted to having insecurities and them being the reason behind a three-year break she took from the Olympics. She says that getting back into the game took a lot of self-pep talks.

"I was really nervous [about coming back]," she tells Bustle. "I had kind of been out of the game for so long that I expected it to be so different that I couldn't come back." She says she felt like she had outgrown the competitions because of her age.

"I went to bouldering nationals and I was like, 'I don't even know if I'll make finals. I don't even know if I'll make semifinals. There are so many strong people now, there are strong kids now. The setting style has changed. Climbing styles changed. Like what if I don't even make semis?'" she says.

But ultimately she stopped her self-doubt in its tracks and reminded herself that she's done this before — and won. "It was sort of that approach that has gotten me here," she says.


Jordan Burroughs (Wrestling): Be Prepared

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Jordan Burroughs is an Olympic gold medalist, four-time world champion, and the No. 2 wrestler in U.S. history. But he didn't always know he was capable of such success. He says he grew up the youngest and smallest within his family, a feat that made him feel less than confident growing up. And although he says wrestling helped him get through that, he explains that he still feels insecurities creeping up from time to time. How did he tackle those insecurities? He came prepared.

"My confidence came from my preparation," he tells Bustle. "I was never this guy that was uber confident or has swagger or bravado at all. But the harder I trained, the more successful I became. The more success that I had, the more confident I became in myself. And so naturally I just learned to appreciate my ability to stay disciplined for long periods of time and put the work in that was necessary to achieve my goals. And all of that kind of helped me to get to a place where I felt good about what I was doing."


Eric Kynard (Track & Field): Keep Your Focus

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At 6 feet and 4 inches tall, Erik Kynard is already a strong presence in any room he walks into. His two-time Olympic experience and silver medal only add to his stature. Kynard says that insecurities are something he doesn't let halter his goals.

"You just can't allow fear to fill in the blanks," he tells Bustle. "So whatever your focus is, whatever your level of faith and commitment is to what you're doing, you have to focus on those things. You have to let those things fuel you and don't let any outside things like fear or external forces, like losing luggage, dictate the circumstances of what you've set out to do. So you have to live a life that's not limited by circumstances and you just create the conditions that you want to be victorious in."

He says that while a wavering confidence may be innately human, you shouldn't ever think of yourself as less capable. "You prepare for it, you work hard for it," he says. "You're qualified and willing and able to do it."


Tom Schaar (Skateboarding): Losing Isn't The End Of The World

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This could be Tom Schaar's first time at the Olympics, but he's no stranger to competition. Competing in the X Games and other skateboarding competitions since age 12, Schaar, now 19, is considered a skateboard prodigy. And while participating in the Olympics for the first time can be a nerve-wracking event, Schaar stays confident by not letting the Olympic name scare him too much.

"I kind of just try and take each contest one at a time," he tells Bustle. "I just think of what's right in front of me and try not to stress myself out already thinking about the Olympics and stuff like that."

Schaar says that understanding the importance of the Olympics but remembering not to beat himself up about the outcome is how he stays calm and allows himself to just focus on doing his best. "I mean, I'll make it or I won't. That's really the bottom line," he says.


Brighton Zeuner (Skateboarding): Be Yourself

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Brighton Zeuner is a force to be reckoned with at only 15 years old and having become the youngest gold medalist at the X games just two years ago. Being such a young contender and trying to compete in the Olympics, it's understandable for Zeuner to feel the pressure. But she says she stays confident by being herself.

"I just try to stay true to myself and [...] also prioritize family and friends," she tells Bustle. She says she keeps her confidence up by working out, shopping online, and keeping her mental health in check.

Whether you're an Olympic athlete or not, feeling comfortable and confident about yourself is important. And even when you have days where you don't feel 100% golden, it's helpful you relax, take a step back, and remember that you got this —whatever "this" may be.

To learn more, visit The Tokyo Olympics begin in one year on NBC.