Lance Armstrong finishing 3rd in Sète, taking ...

Image via Wikipedia

Perhaps one of the most well respected athletes of all time, Lance Armstrong overcame adversity to earn his place in history. The Texas born athlete grew up competing in swimming and cycling events. At the age of 16, Armstrong was considered a professional triathlete. Knowing that his strongest phase was cycling, Armstrong turned his full focus on it. During his senior year of high school, he was invited to train with the Olympic development team. Shortly after, Armstrong placed 11th in the World Championships of 1990 and was the highest placed American since 1976. With many other wins under his belt, it was clear that Armstrong had real talent and it didn’t take long for him to become one of the most famous athletes in the world. Fighting a battle both on and off the race track, the world did not yet know that it would become mesmerised by this young man in what would be an inspirational journey for the world to follow.

In 1991, Armstrong completed his first international cycling race; a grueling 12-stage race that required cyclists to cover 1,085 miles in only 11 days. Although he finished in the middle of the pack at his first international race, later in the year he won an equally difficult race in Italy, a race that put him on the map as someone to watch for those not already in the know. The following year, Armstrong placed well in the Olympic trials and chose to turn professional. Armstrong continued to impress when he won the cycling “Triple Crown” in 1993; Armstrong also rode in his first Tour de France, finishing in 62nd place. While not a glamorous first result, he would go on to become one of the Tour de France greats and place his mark on history.

For the next three years, Armstrong enjoyed many competitive victories and broke quite a few records. In 1996, he again represented the US Olympic team. In the fall, Armstrong was diagnosed with a severe case of testicular cancer that had spread to many places of his body, including his brain. He had numerous surgeries to overcome the disease. With his iconic status in the sporting world, his journey became one of the most inspirational in sports history, with many drawing on him for the motivation they needed in their own lives. Since then, Armstrong has developed many cancer charities including the Lance Armstrong Foundation for Cancer. Not only that, but even after his battle with cancer, Armstrong went on to compete and place well in multiple Tour de France rides.

Matthew is a sports writer for numerous online publications and a huge fan of Lance Armstrong. What he has done for thousands of people around the world in the form of inspiration and his elite, unmatched skill on the bikes that was never taken away from him despite his struggles should give anyone the motivation they need to fight the hard times in their own lives.