I have to say that I have been refreshingly impressed with the overall response to the “behind the scenes” look at the 2011 World Championships blog series. I am relieved that most appreciated the coach’s perspective and did not consider the content gospel but merely insight and opinion. I think the goal of providing an educational resource was accomplished.
In wrapping up the loose ends, it will be tough to express in words the feeling of exhilaration and accomplishment, satisfaction and validation that accompanies being part of a World Championship Title. Beyond that, I wouldn’t be able to scratch the surface of explanations related to the professional pride associated with coaching a World All Around Champion. Inexplicable. Let’s just say It feels damn good!
Although this was my first World Championships experience, I am not a stranger to high level international competitions. I have represented in 20 plus countries at some of the most prestigious events in the world. Let this serve as the basis for going on record that the 2011 Worlds was the best organized, staffed, administered, equipped, hosted events of all time. I have to congratulate the host country of Japan for an exceptional event. The Japanese organizing committee (of course with the assistance of the FIG) put on a show of gracious hospitality and clockwork implementation of every detail. Simply impressive, but then again those that have ever visited this wonderful country would have expected nothing less. This is just how they roll.
What did I learn?
- The process is long. Dah! With the selection camps, acclimation training in Tokyo, Podium preparation, and the actual competition the event spanned some 30 days. Be prepared and pace yourself as this is a marathon and not a sprint.
- There will be ups and downs. Dah! Not every training session is going to go as planned but the good news is (in the USA System) another training opportunity is right around the corner. Drop the bad days at the door when you leave and start fresh as you enter the next time.
- Worlds is “just another meet on a podium”. Yep, I said it. All the hype, the “pressure” of representing your country on the World’s biggest gymnastics stage can get to you IF you let it. Taking the approach … do what you do … and treat this competition like all those that paved the way to get there … seemed to be a healthy approach.
- Politics is alive and well. We would love to think that the athletes performances would determine the outcome, and for the most part I think it does. But there are still ongoing attempts to corrupt the system.
- Example: Countries filming our workouts, analyzing the routines and then campaigning the WTC and D panels to sway decisions on the evaluation of skills.
- Example: High profile representatives crying “scandal” and “tainted judging” to the media and anyone who would listen, when the results didn’t go exactly how they had planned. This is an embarrassment to our sport and the purest definition of poor sportsmanship.
- The World is filled with wonderful people. Luckily number 4 above only represents the smallest fraction of professionals within our sport. Most professionals respect and appreciate the related aspects of our sport and foster an image that gymnastics as a sport can be proud of.
- Earning a medal at Worlds is HARD! Dah! With the format being what it is, there isn’t any foregone conclusions of who will actually wind up in the All Around or Event Finals. One little mess up in the qualification rounds and OUCH… you are out. If you are part of a stronger country you are penalized by the 2 per country rule. This year the world was robbed by not being able to see Tweedle’s or Seitz Bars, or USAs Douglas, Vega or Maroney in the AA. Then should you actually qualify to the finals for AA or Individual event, enduring is a factor. Podium performance, Qualification round, Team Finals round, then AA, then event finals. It is a wonder any of these athletes have anything left in the tank after all of that.
- We have lots of work to do. For the past 3 cycles the USA has captured the World Title the year prior to the Olympics (2003, 2007 and now 2011), yet have failed to defend that title when the flame is lit. It is self evident that this accomplishment simply motivates the rest of the world to up their game. We must continue to up ours rather than rest on the glory of 2011. A good portion of our future success will be tied to the health and well-being of our athletes. “Upping our Game” does not equate to increasing the work load, increasing the numbers or the training time. It equates more to “training smart” so that we place the best possible combination of athletes on the floor at the right time.
See you in 2012