The London Olympics have come and gone and as always our hopes and prayers were with all our Irish athletes across the various disciplines.
Our ‘hopes and prayers’ are with them, but what is our expectation for them?
Very few people were anticipating medals to be taken home by the team – why is this? Why is there a sense that;” sure we will do grand and didn’t he or she do well to get there?”
There was an article in the Sunday Independent on July 29th regarding Athletics Ireland High Performance Director Kevin Ankrom. Ankrom is quoted as saying that Ireland “is not in a position to win any medals”.
How can this motivate a team? I am frankly very disappointed in Ireland’s High Performance Director, and feel it is unacceptable to go into the games with this negative, limiting attitude. How can an athlete be in the right frame of mind when you are hearing this said openly to the media?
Where is the encouragement – where is the belief – where is your direction Mr. Ankrom?
You can be sure you will never hear the likes of Billy Walsh say that about his boxers – he is a true tactician, motivator, coach and leader. He believes in his team and always has and that belief helps drive his performers. How could it not lift an athlete? This is why they work so hard. They set challenging goals and focus on the internal rewards; the pride, the passion, the honour. John Joe Nevin spoke after his second fight saying it was all about the performance – he was not focusing on the medals. He is taking one fight at a time and giving it his full focus. ‘Look after the performance and the result will look after itself’.
Don’t openly tell the country that ‘we do not expect to win medal’s and that you are ‘merely being realistic’. Wrong man for the job in my eyes – maybe a move back home to America is not a bad thing Kevin!
We Irish are more than capable of performing and winning on the international stage with many names proving this; Sonia O’Sullivan, Bernard Dunne, Roy Keane, Brian O’Driscoll and Katie Taylor to name but a few in recent times. We need to strive to be the best, believe in our abilities, train as hard as we can, commit to the regimes and never limit our goals.
Kieran Behan, our gymnast personifies the above qualities – we can all learn something from his fight to get to London 2012 and learn from every other athlete wearing the green, white and gold of Ireland. Sport is a game of inches particularly at the highest level, but that inch can come down to mental toughness and belief.
Anything is possible in a competition and sometimes the underdog can produce something special – so lets be more positive, encouraging and realistic that it can happen. Visualise that podium place and the tricolour rising with Amhran Na bhFiann
As published in the ‘Irish Independent – Letter of the Day’ Saturday August 4th 2012
Stephen Maguire – Sports Performance Coach.
Ph; 087 6346550