4 secrets to success from an Olympic gold medalist

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Although she won't be participating in Rio this year, Sanya Richards-Ross is no stranger to the Olympic Games.

As an elite track star, Ms. Richards-Ross has earned four Olympic golds and one bronze through the years. Due to injuries, she isn't competing in Rio this summer, but she'll be there and participate as an NBC announcer.

In a recent CNBC report, Ms. Richards-Ross shared her four biggest secrets to success.

1. Don't avoid difficult decisions. The road to success isn't easy. Prioritizing practice and training is a choice, and although pursuing a goal often requires one to miss out on certain activities, such dedication is for the best in the long run. "I don't like to use the word 'sacrifice,'" Ms. Richards-Ross said, according to the report. "When you use the word 'sacrifice,' it means you are giving something up. But for me, I feel like every choice I make helps me to get closer to my goals."

2. Failure can fuel future success. At the end of the 400-meter sprint in the 2008 Beijing Games, Ms. Richards-Ross — the anticipated winner — cramped up and finished in third place. But she used that failure to propel her to victory in London in 2012. "I really credit my victory in 2012 because of my loss in 2008. It taught me a lot," she said, according to the report.

3. Trust yourself. Ms. Richards-Ross said she should have won her race during the 2005 World Championships. But the night before her event, an athlete she admired gave her tips on how she should run. Although the advice was well intended, Ms. Richards-Ross should not have listened. "Even someone who has maybe done what you have done and had great experiences, they are not walking in your shoes and they don't know what it's going to take for you to be great," she said, according to the report. Since then, she has learned to truly trust herself and her own strategy.

4. Be patient. Although we tend to desire instant gratification, Ms. Richards-Ross believes the wait is worth it. "When I have gotten ahead of myself, I haven't had the same kind of success that I have had when I am slow and steady and patient in my training," she said, according to the report.

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