#Olympics2012… Twitter yes, or twitter no, just before entering the race? Well that depends. It’s amazing what thoughts can do, or undo!
The Opening Ceremony entertained and inspired millions to think – think about the past, present and future. The profoundly deaf musician, Dame Evelyn Glennie led a band of 965 ground-shaking drummers. 600 Nurses and patients from the London Great Ormond Street Hospital for children performed their hearts out. The Koas Singing Choir of deaf and hearing children sang in harmonious unison. Flash mob dancers in all shapes and sizes moved in exuberant unity. Mr Bean’s dream of “endurance, persistence and dedication” in Chariots of Fire (you had to see it!) was so Mr Bean. Even the Queen was a sport (yup, you had to see it).
And now it’s all about the amazing athletes – past and present stories, interviews and reports, arousing the good, the bad, and the ugly.
THE GOOD… “Are you mentally fit for it?” – an important question from a coach.
Dawn Fraser, one of Australia’s all-time darlings was interviewed on ABC Radio National, “The Sporty Ones. Part 1: The Swimmers”, and tells her story beautifully. “In 1962… I felt I was getting older, I’d won gold medals and I thought that I had really achieved a lot of things in swimming… But, there was one little stepping stone I hadn’t.” Her coach asked if she’d thought about breaking her 60.2 second record in the 100m Freestyle race. She hadn’t, and now she was being challenged to “put it in her mind.” Fraser was struggling in the trials and not happy. She told her Mum that she’d had the worst swim in her life. Mum’s advice: “… just go and enjoy it”. (Got to love Mum’s advice!) At the trials Fraser told her coach, “I’m just going to enjoy the race, coach.” She set a new world record as the first woman to break the one minute barrier for the 100m Freestyle at 59.6 seconds. “And that’s the easiest swim I’ve ever done in my life and I still remember the swim.”.
Today there are all sorts of fancy inventions resulting from sports science and psychology; from medicine and diet to equipment. And yet, the relationship between our thoughts and our performance is clear. To today’s Games:
THE BAD… uncovered. Anti-doping agencies are at work once more. And eight badminton athletes were caught blatantly throwing matches in order to improve their positions for the knockout stages.
THE UGLY… Body image issues came up even before the Games began. Aussie swimmer Leisel Jones was criticized as looking unfit (putting it mildly). There was general outrage in the community, for and against. After her excellent race Jones shared how chuffed she was to be at her fourth Olympics, and said, “Smooth sailing doesn’t make for a skilful sailor.” Cathy Freeman, another Aussie icon who ran and won the 400m race in the Olympics 2000, implored the Aussie public to be supportive, not critical of their athletes. When swimmer James “Missile” Magnussen missed his mark for Gold in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay swim, there was a news poll asking the public whether they believed he’d make it or not in his next race. Scientific or not, was this poll helpful? It depends.
FORWARD THINKING… Handling being under pressure to perform is plainly an individual journey. How can the athletes prevent becoming victims of their own hype? Lose graciously and stay motivated despite defeat? Overcome sickness resulting from the strain? What if the highest quality care is to include spirituality into training? According to ‘The Effect of Spirituality on Health and Healing: A Critical Review of Athletic Trainers, Journal of Athletic Training, 2000’:-
Conclusions/Recommendations: The impact of spirituality on health and healing is a topic that has been virtually ignored in the disciplines of athletic training and sports medicine. Because of their lack of exposure to this topic, most athletic trainers are unaware of the many positive associations that exist between spirituality and health and healing. The available literature base regarding this topic is quite large; its findings need to be explored and integrated into our profession.”
After all is said and done, every competitor has permission to shine, beyond positive thinking. It might be the simplest thing that makes one mentally fit for the moment. Like someone reminding us to “enjoy”. Or realising that there is something far greater than ourselves to depend upon.