3 Athletes Competing For The 2020 Olympics Tell Us The Advice They’d Give Their Younger Selves

by Syeda Khaula Saad
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People who have grown into themselves and have a lot of success don't exactly become that way overnight. It often takes a lot of trial, error, and decisions that they probably wouldn't make again. And while we may look at successful public figures as people who know how to maneuver around life well, there are always tips, tricks, or advice they'd give to their younger selves.

Bustle had the opportunity to talk to three athletes at a media summit hosted by U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee at Twitter Headquarters for potential 2020 Olympics competitors. Climber Alex Johnson, climber Ashima Shiraishi, and skateboarder Brighton Zeuner are all 2020 Olympics hopefuls who are all kicking ass and taking names. And while they are all exceptional athletes who are making history every day as outstanding athletes, they tell Bustle that the journey to where they are now was not always easy or fault-free. While they are proud of all they have achieved, just like everyone, they too have a part of them that wishes they could go back in time and fix a few things if given the chance.

Check out the advice that Johnson, Shiraishi, Zeuner would give to their younger selves below.


Alex Johnson

Climbing since 1997, Alex Johnson has been in the game for a while. And while her run has shown immense success as she is a two-time world cup gold medalist and five-time national champion, she tells Bustle that there are still some things she would say to a younger-her.

"Unfortunately, I don't think my younger self would listen," she says. "But I would for sure tell my younger self, 'You're so talented. Stop taking for granted that you're talented and put in the work.' Like the work that I'm putting in now, if I had put that work in when I was winning World Cups, I feel like I could have been unstoppable. And so looking back just instead of winning two, I feel like I could have won four."

She wishes she had worked harder at her craft and mastered it even more. "Put the work in because you'll regret it when you're 30," she'd tell a younger Alex.


Ashima Shiraishi

Although only 18 years old and already considered at the top of her game as a competitive rock climber, Ashima Shiraishi still says she'd have a few words to say to a younger version of herself.

"I would say to push yourself and be the best you can be, but also remember to have fun with it and just do what you love doing," she tells Bustle. While she says it took some time to come into her own and really take care of herself, she has some good advice for the younger her."'Don't do what society tells you to do or what people who actually love you, even if they tell you that just do what you love to do.'"


Brighton Zeuner

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It's difficult for skateboarder Brighton Zeuner to give advice to a younger version of herself — she's still only 15 years old and became the youngest person to be a gold medalist at the X-Games at 13. But she says that the advice she would give to her younger self is the same advice she'd give to other girls her age or younger.

"Don't be scared or intimidated," she tells Bustle. "Everyone's worried about their own [stuff]. They're doing their own thing. They're worried about their own self. Everyone starts somewhere and has their own pace. So don't be worried about things like skateboarding when you go to skate park. It's not any competitive energy. This is like a family. And if you love skating, just do it."

She says that she wants to influence other girls the way that older skaters influenced her when she was younger. "I hope they just [...] get inspired because I know what sparked my motivation to want to skate. And I hope that maybe, hopefully, me or any other girl, can kind of have that same effect."

While it may be impossible to go back in time and convince your younger self to not make certain mistakes, you can always learn from ones you've made as you move forward.