I’m not sure if everyone managed to catch any of the Olympic 1 year out festivities yesterday. I saw this video of Tom Daley taking his first dive at the aquatics centre. The venue looks awesome and the camera positions look like they’ll bring some great footage to those who’ll be watching at home or on big screens around the country. I’m not sure how many they let in to watch the first dive, a couple of hundred maybe, but the noise and the atmosphere in the building sounded great. Seeing Tom Daley’s reaction to it was also intriguing.
There has, somewhat obviously, been a lot of work put in by the athletes in preparation for the Olympics and I know there is a psychology program in place around coping with the expectations of the home crowd during the games. There has been a lot of talk about those expectations which I find annoying. I think it’s a very negative way to portray it. It suggests that people are going to be let down by the athlete’s actions.
Every single British person watching, either in the crowd or on TV, will be supporting every British athlete, willing them on in their event (I will at least anyway), which is a huge positive. More focus should be placed on managing distractions, maintaining concentration and making use of the supporter’s atmosphere rather than coping with public expectations. Hopefully Tom Daley realised this yesterday and the talk of expectations hasn’t made him scared of his home town support.
I know that when funding and achieving value for money is discussed, then there is an expectation associated with that. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge it. But it’s been done. The decisions have been made and everyone knows how much they have and what they want to achieve. We can worry about all that after the event now and I’m sure many column inches will be devoted to it then. For now let’s just get behind them.
I don’t know heaps about art. It was never my favourite subject at school although I once did a pastel drawing of Waisele Sirevi I was quite proud of. I dropped the subject at the earliest opportunity because I didn’t have any desire to be an artist. Little did I know at the time that my career of choice would involve so much artistry.
I’m going to use a well known piece to illustrate, or sculpt, my point. If we view Michelangelo’s David as our goal. A complete athlete at their peak. Flawless perfection. In order to attain that, we strength and conditioning coaches have to start with a piece of stone. We will work with athletes at various points throughout their development. We might be starting at the beginning or adding to another coach’s artistry. At any rate, we are all working towards that same goal.
We chip away with our hammers and chisel’s, we refine, we smooth and we polish. Maybe we work on a certain area a little more at first because we view that as more important to the individual and their sport. Maybe we’ll get one area to a point we’re fairly happy with, in our minds eye it has a little polish and so we focus on another area a little more in the knowledge that we have to come back because the polished area will scuff.
This process is ongoing, maybe infinite. For some of us, it’s our job get some basic shape and pass over to another artist to add more detail, for others we are polishers adding the finishing touches. Sometimes we’re having to repair major flaws so the whole thing doesn’t collapse.
At any rate, there isn’t one set route of development from lump of stone to the finished article, there are so many variables that it’s very difficult to lay out a path or set of intructions for everyone to follow. I’m kind of glad of that because whilst I didn’t want to be an artist at school, I definitely didn’t want to work on an assembly line.
The Formula 1 parade arrives at Silverstone this week and it’s always an event to look forward to in the summer sporting calendar (unless you want to use the M40 or M1 at some stage during the weekend!). This season, the rule changes have led to more overtaking and, in the eyes of many, more exciting races. I personally stand in the camp that thinks the drag reduction system leads to more artificial races and takes away the defensive aspect of driving. I’m sure some of you will disagree with me. That’s not what I want to focus on today though.
My main gripe came after the European race and an interview that Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button gave post race. Both drivers bemoaned their chances in the British Grand Prix and cited the need for upgrades to be forthcoming to help make them more competitive. Fair enough you might say, Red Bull seem to have by far and away the best car and mechanical or aerodynamical changes could help McLaren close the gap. My point though is that F1 teams are exactly that, teams.
Put yourself in the engineer’s shoes. They work their arse off in the factory to build the best car, to continue developing the car throughout the season, to make constant refinements to put their team’s drivers in the best possible position to win. They’re not stupid, in fact they’re the opposite. They can see Red Bull are quicker and they know they need to play catch up with them. It’s a bit of a slap in the face to hear those comments straight after the race. Perhaps an interview with the engineers after the race might have them asking questions about why the 2 drivers drove into each other or why Hamilton keeps putting his car into the wall.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to comment on the dynamics within a team without being a team member (in fact it is one of the things I find most annoying about sports journalism) but very difficult to do accurately. I don’t have any connection with McLaren but I just thought I’d give a perspective I’ve not seen anywhere else on this. For me, in any team environment I’ve been in, quality communication within the team is absolutely vital. My opinion on what I saw post race in Valencia was not evident of that.