I love the stories that come out of the Olympics. Heroes are being created in front of our eyes. Role models for a generation.

Like many of us, I’m not glued to the television for every event, but I am inspired by the stories of the athletes. I’m awestruck by the years of dedication it takes to be the best in their chosen sport, and by the courage it takes to overcome the nerves of the world stage. A few seconds can change a persons life, and we get to witness it. Whatever country you are pulling for, we all get involved in the stories, the people, and the glories and failures.

Today I started thinking about a group of people who are not watching the Olympics for entertainment like most of us. They are not watching to see glimpses of London (I love to see my home city), or to learn the rules of some obscure sport they didn’t understand before. They are watching between training sessions, because in four years time they are planning to compete and hoping that we are watching and supporting them. They are already imagining a medal being put around their neck and their national anthem playing in the stadium. These are the stars of the future.

Where will you be in four years time? What will you have achieved? What training do you need to put in today to make sure you are there? What coaches do you need? What commitments do you need to make? What result would be like you had one a gold medal in your chosen field?

Four years is a great time period to plan for. It’s far enough off to dream big, but not so far that we can’t imagine it. If we know where we want to be by then, then we can work backwards and work out the steps we need to take. It will take dedication, it may mean making different choices, it will mean sacrificing other things to achieve what we really want.

Think of yourself as an athlete training for the next Olympics. There will be injuries, and unforeseen circumstances. You will lose some competitions; you will win others. Gradually you will improve, hit your goals and know you are on the right path. You may have something happen that changes your goal completely – you make a new one and keep striving.

The stories we love from the Games include the struggles of the competitors, the things they did wrong, the times they got knocked off track, the injuries that sidelined them. They are not just physically strong, but mentally tough and prepared.

I will be spending some time this week working on my four-year Olympic Plan. Imagine how it would feel watching the next opening ceremony in Rio, knowing that you had something personal to celebrate too. The motto for London 2012 is “Inspire a generation” – and we can help them do that, in the most effective way possible – by reaching our own goals and living our own dreams.

This column was first published in The Daily Advertiser on Tuesday 7th August 2012 – all usual rights reserved