"I wasn't naturally gifted in terms of size and speed; everything I did in hockey I worked for."
—Wayne Gretzky, Hall of Fame Hockey Player
Some athletes have the gift of great genetics, but thankfully, it's not an athlete's size or physical makeup that guarantees success.
Most noteworthy athletes work day and night to compete at the top of their game. Those who rely on natural talent, size and speed may achieve some success, but without hard work and dedication, their reign at the top often ends early.
Anyone can label himself an athlete, regardless of size. But to be a great athlete, you must devote yourself to your sport by out-training, out-studying and totally out-working your opponents during every training session.
No one else knows more about putting in OT during training than Wayne Gretzky, arguably the greatest hockey player ever. Born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Gretzky—who stands just shy of six feet and weighs 185 pounds—was never big. But that didn't stop him from spending countless hours skating on a backyard rink to develop his legendary skills.
While constantly honing his skills, "The Great One" developed an uncanny ability to read the game of hockey. Quicker than most opponents, he made up for his lack in size by surpassing everyone in skills. Precision passing, stick handling and cutting were all perfected on Gretzky's backyard rink. Continuously skating and shooting on the ice for hours on end, Gretzky increased his skill level by putting in tremendous effort and hard work—all for his sheer love of the game.
At a young age, Gretzky surpassed his peers, so he played with older, more physically-developed hockey players, which only helped refine his game. He eventually earned a spot on the World Hockey Association's Edmonton Oilers.
Soon after, the Oilers joined the National Hockey League [NHL], and Gretzky's hard work and dedication started to pay off. The great #99 went on to capture four Stanley Cup championships, while setting, holding or sharing 61 NHL records throughout his 21-year professional career.
Of his records, 40 came from the regular season, including most career goals , assists [1,963], points [2,857] and hat tricks . You don't get a nickname like "The Great One" without performing [and training] at a high level night after night.
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