Blog: Post Olympics
The euphoric highs associated with the phenomenal successes of Team USA at the Olympic games linger to this day. Sometimes it feels as if I was watching some well scripted movie with me playing a role as supporting actor. The stars are the stars and the supporting cast quickly learns that they are just that… supporters.
Heading into London a few of the coaches had every intention of milking the experience for all it was worth. We would fulfill our obligations to our sport and team and then enjoy the rest of the games as spectators. Kathy Kelly and few of the more experienced simply smiled and said “when the last dismount had landed we would be begging to get on a plane.” For the most part she was right. 4 straight weeks of living, breathing, thinking and doing nothing but gymnastics will take its toll on your energy level. Throw in the natural highs of success and the gut wrenching lows that come with not meeting expectations and you start longing for the stability of home. All the coaches were on a plane the day following event finals and happily bound for good ole USA. The athletes did stay through the closing ceremonies however and soaked up some well deserved attention.
In hind sight I still have this beaming sense of pride. USA won it’s second Olympic Team Gold Medal ever and we were a part of the process, my athlete was there, and I have my name attached to USA Gymnastics history. It is an amazing feeling. I could not be prouder of the Fierce Five!
Speaking of the Fierce Five, the media jumped the gun a bit prematurely after hearing a few mumblings about the group being called the Fab Five. After a little research (isn’t google wonderful), the girls soon learned that the Fab Five had already been taken and was associated with a group of U of M Basketball players who had a couple members who, shall we say, didn’t live up to the code of ethics that most would expect of true champions. This team wanted their own identity and they played with countless “F” combinations. Fenomenal Five (nope, didn’t want anyone thinking they couldn’t spell), Flashy Five, Fearsome Five (too long), Famous Five (too cocky), First Aid Five (too appropriate). They settled on the title that best fit the Team’s personality and their ‘fierce” ability to compete on the world stage.
Someone asked what the biggest disappointment of the Olympics game was for me personally. I would have to say it was the media or more specifically the media that had no business covering a sport that they knew absolutely nothing about. Let me preface this by saying that there are some fantastic journalists, and bloggers out there that know our sport, and those that take the time to learn all they can about it. This of course puts them in a much better position of reporting accurately. Others, who claim to be professional, take the easy road and focus on the overstated, over dramatized sensationalistic approach. One such “professional” was Bill Reiter of Fox Sports. Not only did he call Jordyn the biggest disappointment of the Olympics, he also characterized me as making excuses for my athlete. Neither is even close to the truth. The entire 4 week process leading up to the games, Jordyn started having issues that presented themselves as a potential stress fracture of the fibula. We of course had to adjust training to compensate and in my opinion this certainly had an impact on her performance. This is not an excuse but mere fact. Post Olympics MRI discovered that indeed she had a full fracture. Now you try doing a Amanar or a Double Double on a broken leg Mr Reiter…. Jordyn endured with the heart of determination of a champion and is by no means a disappointment to anyone.
Back to the media. Never once did we focus on the training issues. Never once did we allude to the injury as a justification for not attaining the medals that “THE MEDIA” said were certainties. We focused on contributing the best that we could. After event finals I didn’t feel the need to rehash Jordyn’s disappointments again but was specifically asked to talk to the media. From the opening question everything centered around the “injury”. I made a specific point that we would not be making any excuses … the result were what they were and we congratulated the medal winners. I did answer questions honestly when asked about the injury. I stated that it looked as if Jordyn had been dealing with a potential stress fracture for 3-4 weeks BUT wild horses would not have kept her from competing. I was asked the question as to whether or not Jordyn would have competed IF this wasn’t the Olympics… the answer was “of course not”. This is the problem with dealing with media… you answer questions that they ask… you try to be as honest as possible… and then they (Mr. Rieter) sensationalize your answers to fit the story they think will create the biggest stir. Mr. Reiter not only twisted my words but he misrepresented my message, all for the drama impact. Shame on you sir and for your unprofessionalism and heartlessness I dub thee “the biggest disappointment of the Olympics”.
Back in the USA the whirl wind impact of the Olympics is still being felt. Clubs across the USA are reporting record numbers of recreational students. Our two clubs have seen 30% growth in one and over 100% growth in the other SO THANK YOU TEAM USA! The related problems with massive growth in a short amount of time are significant. Staffing, scheduling, equipment needs, staff training etc all take their toll too. BUT if you are going to have problems, these are real good ones to have.
My personal calendar has been filled with speaking engagements, hall of fame inductions (one for me, one for my wife), coaching awards, and the thrill of a life time opportunity of throwing out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers baseball game. I have enjoyed the recognition (lord knows it took it’s good ole time getting here) but getting back in the gym, getting back to the grind has been my biggest priority. A new crop of talent is coming up and there is just something that draws me towards helping them achieve. We will see where that leads.
Jordyn is currently about mid way through her obligations with the Tour of Champions. She has stopped by the gym a couple times and expresses how much she really loves the entire experience on the road. All I know is that we certainly miss her in the gym. She loves the show and is increasing her level of participation now that the leg is progressing well. A second tour is in the works and will keep her pretty busy through January or February and thus her graduation date may have to be pushed back a bit. No worries… college isn’t going anywhere. Still no firm commitment as to her plans after the tours so we will wait to see where that leads also. Life is an open book at this point.
Jordyn’s Mom Rita has been busy putting together her web site www.gymmom.net, which will feature a blog from a gym mom point of view, sell apparel and gym mom goodies. Rita has one book on the market “Gym Mom” and there is rumors of another coming soon. Check out this web site if you get a chance.
Speaking of Web Sites, coaches, gymnasts and parents will want to take a look at THEGYMNASTICSCOACH.COM. This is my project and designed as a coaches/gymnast/parent education blog site. The topics cover a full array of issues and will deliver some experienced based observations and advise so as to help shorten the learning curve in this complex sport. “ASK JOHN” is a tool you can use to seek advise on any area related to gymnastics that you may be struggling with. Whether it be technique oriented, organizational details for setting up a productive training program, dealing with staff, parents, coaches or athletes, I will do my best to help point you in the right direction. THEGYMNASTICSCOACH.COM is newly RE-DESIGNED and easy to navigate. Check it out!