Champions Work Through Pain

Teboho Molapo
3 min readSep 26, 2022


2023 Africa Women’s Champions — Banyana Banyana

Pain and injuries are par for the course for any athlete and this is an understanding one comes to have.

There is a quote that stayed with me. I heard it some years back and things imparted into you at early age tend to stay with you longest.

In an interview, Ashley Cole, who was playing for Chelsea at the time, said a footballer is rarely, if ever, in 100 percent physical condition during the course of a season.

The constant grind means you will collect pains and injuries, it is inevitable.

The key idea here, therefore, is even as the niggles pile up, you still have to keep playing, you still have to train, and most importantly, you still have to keep compete at your best level.

This is a reality you have to embrace; you won’t always feel 100 percent, so you have to fight through the pain.

It may mean changing your style of play here and there or tweaking your approach to training slightly. But, whatever it is, the show must go on.

Pain, especially, is one thing that can prey on your mind.

It can make you think you can’t continue even though you are capable of doing more.

It reminds me of the 40 percent rule I came across recently. Apparently this is something used by US Navy SEALS. The crux of the rule is that people are capable of accomplishing much more than they think they can.

The idea is explained here by billionaire entrepreneur Jesse Itzler who spent 31days living with a US Navy SEAL and experienced what can only be described as an enlightening time.

The moral of the story, in short, is that when your mind is saying you are finished, you are only really 40 percent done. If you keep at it, you can conquer the mountain.

This is true of pain and fatigue as anything else in all spheres of life; indeed, if you give it a chance, you will be surprised how much your will has to give.

Focus your mind and work through the pain…

This is something sport definitely teaches you; you focus your mind and you will find the pain is not as debilitating as you thought.

That is what champions do. Over the course of a long NBA basketball season, for example, there is no way Kobe Bryant or LeBron James is not aching from being guarded by the opposition’s best defender each night while having to carry his team. And, they are still not done. They still have to battle through the postseason and go for the big goal, the NBA championship.

They work through it, though.

They find ways to plough through discomfort and they often do it without giving away signs of struggle.

That is because they have embraced the fight and that is what it takes to keep achieving in our daily lives. It is what is needed in your budding business, at your job, in your next project.

Not all days will be the same.

But, no matter how you feel today, get up and go put in the hard yards. Champions work through pain.

This articles was originally written in 2016.



Teboho Molapo

Part-time athlete, part-time coach, part-time writer; fulltime believer in life. | #MolapoKTM