Famously Successful Athletes Who Failed At First

Athletes

While some athletes rocket to fame, others endure a path fraught with a little more adversity, like those listed here. Some  South African  Examples  as  well.

Not everyone who’s on top today got there with success after success. More often than not, those who history best remembers were faced with numerous obstacles that forced them to work harder and show more determination than others. Next time you’re feeling down about your failures in college or in a career, keep these fifty famous people in mind and remind yourself that sometimes failure is just the first step towards success.


  1. Michael Jordan: Most people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
  2. Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, middle distance runner, Olympic silver medallist (1980 – )
  3. Oscar Pistorius, disabled runner (1986 – )Representing South Africa  in the  fully ablebodied team in September 2011  a  world  first
  4. Hezekiél Sepeng, middle distance runner, Olympic silver medallist (1974 – )
  5. Josia Thugwane, marathon runner, Olympic gold medallist (1971 – )
  6. L.J. van Zyl, 400m hurdles, Commonwealth Games gold medallist (1985 – )
  7. Stan Smith: This tennis player was rejected from even being a lowly ball boy for a Davis Cup tennis match because event organizers felt he was too clumsy and uncoordinated. Smith went on to prove them wrong, showcasing his not-so-clumsy skills by winning Wimbledon, U. S. Open and eight Davis Cups.
  8. Babe Ruth: You probably know Babe Ruth because of his home run record (714 during his career), but along with all those home runs came a pretty hefty amount of strikeouts as well (1,330 in all). In fact, for decades he held the record for strikeouts. When asked about this he simply said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
  9. Tom Landry: As the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Landry brought the team two Super Bowl victories, five NFC Championship victories and holds the records for the record for the most career wins. He also has the distinction of having one of the worst first seasons on record (winning no games) and winning five or fewer over the next four seasons. (Reference: http://www.onlinecollege.org/2010/02/16/50-famously-successful-people-who-failed-at-first/)
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