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Success Doesn't Always Come Easy By Dave Cole

On a raw, cold day in the European Alps, Lance Armstrong steered his bike into the sleeting snow, then stopped. His partner riding in the car behind him urged Lance to give it up for the day and return to the comfort of his shelter.

But Lance Armstrong considered himself a winner, and a person who was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish his goals. With the frigid cold and wailing wind biting at his back, Armstrong said, "No, I'm going on."

Hopping back on his bike he rode for seven more hours, in that storm.....alone. Lance was determined, determined to win ......and win the three week, 2,290 mile Tour de France bicycle race he did!

He won because he was willing to do absolutely anything, including riding in weather conditions when no one else would ride.

Growing up his mother Linda taught Lance a most valuable lesson he never forgot: "Son, you never quit." That lesson was to prove invaluable to Armstrong in 1996.

After winning the Tour Dupont and competing in the Olympics, Lance became ill and was diagnosed with testicular cancer. At one point, his doctors gave him chances of surviving at less than 50%.

Undergoing chemotherapy and even a very risky brain surgery to remove cancerous lesions, Armstrong became physically weak, but managed to stay mentally strong.

He began to set goals of having his blood counts being at levels doctors told him they should be. Lance would actually visualize his counts meeting the doctors hoped for marks. He says, "I would concentrate on that number, as if I could make the counts by mentally willing it."

Between his efforts and the excellent care of his physicians, it worked. Lance Armstrong was soon declared cancer free!

Racing didn't come easy for him either. His first race in 1992, Lance finished dead last - 111th out of 111 riders. In fact as he was pedaling up the last stretch of the race, the crowds jeered and laughed at him calling him name after name.

Armstrong really thought about giving up the sport, but then his mother's words flashed through his mind - never quit!

One year later Armstrong became the youngest athlete to ever win the World Race Championship held in Oslo, Norway.

Soon after his Tour de France win in 1999, critics accused him of taking performance enhancing drugs. But Lance proved that wasn't the case by testing clean over and over.

His response to the critics: "Everybody wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my bike busting my rear six hours a day!"

Lance Armstrong is a firm believer in setting goals. Big long term goals and small short term goals. He doesn't believe in luck or any of the traditional success acronyms; he does believe in hard work to accomplish what he wants to do and in never, ever giving up or giving in until those goals are met.

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