The Olympics : From an athlete perspective.
Thanks again to Hannah Irwin for an excellent article.
After the disappointing but right decision to postpone the Olympics last year, it is difficult to know what capacity they will take place in this year. There is speculation about whether it will go on behind closed doors, or maybe with a limited number of spectators, however, there is no knowing exactly what it will be like.
Whilst as a nation we desperately hope the Olympics will go ahead so we can experience a sense of positive pride as a nation, it is not the spectators who are having to suffer from the uncertainty. It is the athletes hoping to compete who are caught in the middle. No one knows whether the Olympics is a realistic target, especially as no one expected them to be postponed at the start of 2020. However, with the recent announcement highlighting the roadmap back to normality, the chances are ever increasing, and it is looking more and more likely that the Olympics will go ahead.
At a time when the guidelines we live our lives by are ever changing, some athletes have chosen to adopt the mindset of normality, assuming the Olympics will 100% be going ahead. These athletes have trained their minds to shut off to anything that says otherwise. Others have been broadening their horizons and shifting their focus beyond the Olympics. As the Games can’t be guaranteed, they have set other goals to get them through the year. You can hear from a few of our country’s best about their Olympic mindset.
We spoke to Eilish McColgan and found out how she has set goals away from the Olympics. We spoke to her before she ran the Olympic 10,000m QT and ran a huge PB of 30:58, just 1 second off her mother’s Scottish record.
“Of course it's frustrating not being able to plan your training or racing schedule properly. But I'm really fortunate to have been to two Olympic Games already so it's not something I am going to overly stress about. It is absolutely my goal and dream to make my third games but as much as I want it to be a proper Olympics - I can't see it happening. I think it will go ahead but it will be a watered down version of what we are used to. My aim remains the same regardless - run as fast as I can and hope to PB across the board. My mums Scottish record over the 10,000m is my main goal for the year.”
It is only March and McColgan is just a couple of seconds off achieving her main goal for the year. We can’t wait to see what the year holds for her.
An athlete with a bit more focus on the Olympics than McColgan is 60:31 half marathoner, Jake Smith. He has his eyes on the chance to represent Great Britain at his first Olympics where he is aiming for the 10,000m QT.
“My focus at the minute is building my mileage back up as I have suffered an Achilles injury the past 3 months. The group we have coached by James Thie is incredible and I know for a fact some of the faster boys are going to put me in my place over the shorter distance reps. My main focus is making 65/66 laps feel easy as that’s the lap time I need for each 400m for the 10k Olympic time to run as close to that 10k Olympic time - 27:28. Then other focuses are running faster over the 1500m and 3000m as I just want to get quicker to make longer paces feel easier. Over this next weekend I am going to be looking at the next few months ahead and plan some races at BMCs to build speed. Stepping down to do quite a few 1500s and might even double at some BMC events!!”
For other athletes, the importance lies in being realistic and focusing on more personal goals. British 1500m champion George Mills says,
“For me personally I think the Olympics is a long shot considering the quality of the top 1500m guys in the UK. So for me I’m just focusing on trying to improve again this year, hopefully achieving the goals Jon (Mills’ coach) and myself agreed upon at the start of the season.”
However, for Nike athlete, Laura Weightman, the Olympics is very much the focus of her attention. She tells us how imperative the Olympics is to ensure she stays focused in training.
“My mindset going into this season is the same as 2020. I am staying focused on the Olympics as if I loose focus what am I training for? I am the type of person who thrives on competition, that’s what keeps me motivated. I have full hope that the games will go ahead and that everyone involved is making them as safe as possible. The Olympics unites the world like no other sporting event and I hope that it is something for everyone to look forward to. I know the games and the 2021 season as a whole won’t be normal but 2020 taught me to make the most of all opportunities and not take anything for granted. I have been making the most of my time during the pandemic working hard to hopefully be at my best when the season begins.”
As you can tell from the athletes first-hand, the Olympics is a strong force in giving them direction for the year ahead. Just like those competing, the rest of the nation have their fingers crossed that the Games will go ahead and provide our country with some much-needed positive camaraderie.