The founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, once said: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well."

It's an inspiring message, befitting an event that has brought us some of the most memorable moments in sporting history. As athletes fight it out for gold, silver and bronze in Rio, here is a list of quotes by Olympians who, through hard work and determination, have left an indelible mark on the greatest event in sports.

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life

- Muhammad Ali
Olympic light heavyweight champion, Rome 1960

 Muhammad Ali lights the first torch to start the Olympic Torch Relay at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia.
Muhammad Ali lights the first torch to start the Olympic Torch Relay at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia.
Image: REUTERS/Chris Stanford

If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail

- Mark Spitz
Nine-time Olympic swimming champion


 Mark Spitz at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, 1968
Mark Spitz at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, 1968
Image: Creative Commons

I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match

- Mia Hamm
Double Olympic champion, soccer

 U.S. women's soccer players Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly (L-R) celebrate at the end of the women's soccer gold medal match at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games August 26, 2004.
U.S. women's soccer players Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly (L-R) celebrate at the end of the women's soccer gold medal match at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games August 26, 2004.
Image: REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Never put an age limit on your dream

- Dara Torres
Four time Olympic champion, swimming

 Dara Torres (R) of the U.S. celebrates her silver medal as winner Britta Steffen (L) of Germany is congratulated by Lisbeth Trickett of Australia at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Dara Torres of the U.S. celebrates her silver medal at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Image: REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed

- Michael Jordan
Double Olympic champion, basketball

 U.S. basketball player Michael Jordan (2nd R) flashes a victory sign as he stands with team mates Larry Bird (L), Scottie Pippen and Clyde Drexler (R), nicknamed the ?Dream Team? after winning the Olympic gold in Barcelona, Spain August 8, 1992.
Michael Jordan flashes a victory sign as he stands with his team after winning the Olympic gold in Barcelona, Spain on August 8, 1992
Image: REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

You have to believe in yourself when no one else does -- that makes you a winner right there

- Venus Williams
Four time Olympic gold medalist, tennis

 Venus Williams of the U.S. chants
Venus Williams celebrates after defeating Italy's Sara Errani in their women's singles tennis match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympics Games on July 30, 2012.
Image: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit

- Mary Lou Retton
Gymnastics, gold medalist at the Los Angeles Games, 1984

Mary Lou Retton appears on a Paraguay stamp celebrating the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.
Image: commons.wikimedia.org

This ability to conquer oneself is no doubt the most precious of all things sports bestows

— - Olga Korbut Four time gold medalist, gymnastics
 Olga Korbut performs at the 1972 Games in Munich
Olga Korbut performs at the 1972 Games in Munich
Image: Creative Commons

I work hard, and I do good, and I'm going to enjoy myself. I'm not going to let you restrict me

- Usain Bolt
Five time Olympic champion, track and field

 Britain Athletics - 2016 London Anniversary Games - Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London - 22/7/16 Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the Men's 200m .
Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the Men's 200m at the 2016 London Anniversary Games.
Image: Reuters/Eddie Keogh
Michael Phelps of the U.S. holds up his award recognising him as the most decorated Olympian, during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre August 4, 2012.
Michael Phelps holds up his award recognising him as the most decorated Olympian, during the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 4, 2012.
Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville