2021 Tokyo Olympics…At Long Last!
Coach Paul Assaiante
As the USA National Squash Coach, I have had the good fortune to coach four previous Pan American games. While squash isn’t an Olympic sport (yet), the PAGS are equally exciting and an incredible experience, just a bit smaller than the Olympic stage.
Of course all athletes train for most of their adult lives to have the experience of walking into a packed stadium for either the opening or closing ceremonies, and things like eating in a dining hall, seeing athletes walking around with gold medals around their necks, to a standing ovation from all athletes from all of the countries….sharing mutual respect will forever be etched in the memories of all participants.
What are the things that all world class athletes share? Talent, other worldly abilities specific to their sport and RESILIENCE. The road to success is paved with bumps, pot holes, injuries, and failures.
Very very few competitors have a linear journey to the Olympics, and it is because of this that resilience, ability to get off of the mat and try again is the quality that I respect most when I meet athletes at world championships and or international games.
Peaking is an important part of planning a training cycle and the goal is to peak for the Olympics. When the world stopped, when the pandemic hit, ALL of the aspiring athletes were impacted.
All of those years went for naught and the training had to begin again but now on an entirely new timeline. Some who had qualified for the 2020 Olympics had to go through the whole arduous task again, and some did not qualify this time. Imagine how crushing that is for an athlete.
These upcoming games will be challenging in every way, largely the people of Japan are concerned because of the fear of COVID-19, but the financial loss of postponing yet again would be unsustainable!
The athletes have by now made the team, but are nervous that the plug could be pulled at the last second. Some athletes have safety concerns and wonder what the mental health aspects of living in a bubble will be like?
At this moment there are more questions than answers, but seasoned athletes are used to this, and they have faith in their resilience………they have all experienced it before.
As the world awaits with much excitement for the upcoming games, one thing we’ve all learned is that there are forces that we cannot control. I wish all the competitors the best of luck!
Coach Paul Assaiante knows the importance of building solid, efficient teams that create championship winners, on and off the court. Most companies focus on the team, the metric, and the measurables. His focus is on the individuals, because when individuals put others first, when they are challenged to be the very best they can be, each and every day, then the team wins and the organization’s bottom-line soars. He shares his experience and lessons of building championship teams in his book, “Run to the Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear.”