The 2010 Winter Olympics are over. It was absolutely brilliant! Great atmosphere, fantastic venues, and most of all for us a gold medal to remember for years.
A great show where incredible athletes do amazing things with state of the art technology. Science and technology play nowadays a crucial role for success in winter sports. Every move can be analysed in real time, every turn and the technology used can be dissected to show how good some athletes are. Shaun White won an impressive 2nd gold in the Half Pipe and everyone can see why he was better than everyone else.
Every technique can now be studied in details and athletes and coaches can receive feedback on the field of play. Despite the fact technology plays a big role in most of the winter sports I have to say that as usual, it is the athlete who wins.
Having the right mindset and being totally prepared is what makes the difference.
Physical preparation, nutrition, psychological preparation, fitness all play a role. However most of the times people forget that behind a great athlete there is always a brilliant coach. Coaching seems to be underrated in modern times. Reading some of the media during and after the games, it seems that an athlete wins because he/she is good or because he/she has the most advanced technology. What I can say is that many athletes win because they have incredibly good coaches, able to prepare them very well and most of all TEACH them something more or better than other coaches can do. They are the least celebrated individuals, and in my opinion the people who can really make the difference between winning and losing.
The margins between winning and losing are very small. Fractions of seconds separate a gold medal from a silver, bronze or no medal at all. What role can sports science play?
Sports science can only make an impact if a talented athlete has a talented coach and a structured programme is in place. Science can then help the coaching process pushing to reach the limits of the athlete’s potential and identifying the marginal gains.
There is more to be written on this topic, and I promise to write more in the next few months.