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Gabby Franco: How to have the Spirit of a Champion

Over 25 years ago, I believed (as a young competitive shooter), that winning a gold medal was the only way I could consider myself a champion. And who wouldn’t, especially when you are training 6 days a week? Well, I sure believed so. But as we all know, winning a gold medal doesn’t happen all the time. I remember my frustration the first time when I did not win a medal. Nevertheless, that is when the real learning began, and the wisdom of my parents and my coaches shaped my life. They taught me that every match is a learning experience – even when I lose. They told me that I need to be stronger than ever to learn from my mistakes and to become a better athlete. They said to me that winning medals are great achievements in life and that they also look good on the wall; however, the ultimate goal is to have the spirit of a champion. 

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The simple concepts my parents and my coaches taught me are not only would be an essential ingredient to my success as an athlete, but also are lessons I currently live by.

Gabby Franco: How to have the Spirit of a Champion
Competitive shooter Gabby Franco the early years.
  • Every shot is a competition – It doesn’t matter how good or bad my previous shot was or how good the next one might be, the present is what matters. In life, I constantly battle my mind to remain in the “here and now,” instead of letting it drift away to a past I cannot change, or to an uncertain future. In other words, what I do NOW is what matters.
  • Work hard to win – There is no guarantee that I will win, but my chances to be on the podium increase if I train to the best of my abilities. In life, I set my goals high, regardless of how difficult they might be. I know that every day is an opportunity to do my best, and I am confident that if I work hard, I will achieve them.
  • Visualization is my best tool – As a competitive shooter, not only do I visualize a good shot, but also, I believe it is perfect. In life, I imagine myself doing great things, and I know I will achieve them. I apply this technique not only in competitions, but also, to be the best I can be.
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Champion Gabby Franco

In the shooting sports, I learned that it doesn’t take gender, age, size, beliefs, or race to win. However, attitude and awareness of my state of mind are instrumental to my success. I know that I control my body and my mind, and with that, I shape my life. 

I wrote the following paragraph on the last page of my shooting journal before a match in September 1999:

I am a strong and brave girl; I am a fighter. I will honor this competition for my hard work, my dedication to the sport, and to myself. I have shot very well before, the only variation has been the location, so I know I can do it even better now.  My pistol is the same. Therefore no one else but “Me” is responsible for each shot.

The shooting sports is one of the best things that have ever happened in my life. I dream and work hard to achieve my goals, and I always keep in mind that the spirit of a champion that is within me is what will take me to great places in life. One thing is sure, I have achieved great things in my life thanks to the values my parents taught me at home, the discipline I learned from my Olympic shooting coaches as a teenager at the gun range, and my determination to ALWAYS do my best.

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