Students at Aspire Academy welcomed tennis champion and world number one, Rafael ‘Rafa’ Nadal on Sunday, fresh from his victory at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

Nadal was there to advise students on the road to sports stardom. He attributed his incredible record to a positive mental attitude and a love of his chosen sport.

The only advice I can give young and aspiring sportsmen is to fight with a positive attitude, until the very last moment. On the days you’re not feeling your best and just want to go home, push through and give it all you’ve got because it is by getting through those moments that you become a winner.’

Recalling how he trained for up to nine hours a day in his early years, when asked by a student how much training he puts in these days, Nadal said, ‘A sports career isn’t forever. It lasts for a short period of time so it’s in this time where you will have to work the hardest, after which you will have more time to enjoy lots of different things.’

Nadal talking at Aspire Academy

When asked by another student how he has stayed motivated throughout his career, Nadal said, ‘It’s not going to be easy. Everybody, including me, has their bad moments, and the most important thing is to go back to basics when that does happen. Start again from the beginning with the right attitude and then you will overcome a tough situation because the happiest victories for me have been when I came from a low moment.’

Nadal and Ivan Bravo

Aspire Academy’s student-athletes were delighted by such an illustrious and inspirational visitor. ‘It is an honour for us to host Rafa at Aspire to speak to our young athletes,’ said Ivan Bravo, Director General of Aspire Academy. ‘He represents the highest values intrinsic to sporting excellence such as passion, hard work, discipline, determination, fair play, humility, and generosity. He is the world’s number one player, but he’s also an inspiring figure for millions of young sportsmen around the world. We tell our talented players that if there is one person they can look up to, try to learn from, and imitate, then Rafa is that person. He is a wonderful role model.’

About Aspire Academy Since opening its doors in 2004, Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence has become one of the foremost national sports academies in the world. The Academy is conceiving, promoting and implementing game-changing excellence in sports training and elite athlete development that is enabling an entire generation of talented, disciplined and committed individuals to pursue their sports dreams.