Saturday, May 10, 2008

Athletes Need To Keep Focus

Can you believe there are only 90 days until we are all watching the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics? If you are an athlete participating in these games, this is not long at all. This is the time when it is all work,..heads down with your eye on the prize.

It was just four short years ago that I was going through Olympic preparations myself.
I remember sitting in a conference room on the Gold Coast listening to ambassadors, who happen to be former Olympic medalists, commissioned by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) to speak to athletes about what to expect from the ‘Olympic experience’.

What a great concept. Knowledge like this is priceless, especially to a rookie Olympian. I remember Michael Wendon (swimming) talking to us about how he prepared himself for the distractions that surrounded him in the Olympic village and how doing so allowed him to be successful in the pool. Others shared their experiences and spoke on the common thread of self discipline.

Talk about leaving the room pumped. I was ready to board the plane right then and there. Watch out world, here comes the skinny basketball player from Toowoomba, Australia. The thing is, I wasn’t even officially on the team yet!

At this stage of the game, it can be easy to get ahead of yourself, especially if you are competing in a team sport. Many of these athletes are still waiting to hear whether or not their names are on that finalized list.

Once you finally get the official nod, the schedule only gets more intense in the home stretch. There are functions, dinners and appearances that become constant time fillers until you board the plane for the Games.

Those previous Olympians were absolutely right. It could be very easy to find distractions and get lost in all the celebrating and congratulating.

Over the next 3 months, it will be important for these athletes to give themselves time to reflect on their accomplishment and on all the work and sacrifice they have made to get to this point. However, the ultimate reward still lies before them. It is imperative that this praise be balanced with the reality that the most important stage is still to come.

For me, my mind wondered to that game winning shot that would give Australia its first medal in men’s basketball. Ok,…so my dream didn’t go to plan, especially since you have to actually be on the court to hit any game winning shots.

But I wouldn’t trade my Olympic experience in Athens for anything. I would love to be a position one day that allows me the platform where I can help other athletes maximize their experience at what is the pinnacle of sport around the world.

You can find my article in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.

No comments: