Date august 2004
Location: Ano Liossia Olympic Hall Athens
You could, in general, divide sport coaches in two categories. Those who have had a professional career of their own and started coaching after they’ve retired. The second category may have been active in the sport but never professionally.
There are also two kinds of opinions when it comes to coaching athletes to become Olympic Champions. There are people who believe that a good athlete does not make automatically a good coach. Many believe that the coach must know how it is to perform in an Olympic final.
But everybody agrees on one thing, from the quote of the great Football coach George Halas; “What makes a good coach? Complete dedication!”
Coaches exist in all formats, backgrounds and knowledge. Olympic champion today often has a full team of coaches and staff. I love watching coaches alongside the Olympic pitches. I pay especially attention to the interaction they have with their athletes. One last advice, a tap on the head, a kiss or hug or nothing at all. During the matches some show hardly any expression; Keep Calm is their motto. Everything is done in preparation. It’s up to the athlete now. Others move frantically with their whole body. It’s like they are in the Games themselves! Their facial expression goes from utter frustration, anger to explosion of joy.
At the Olympic Judo tournament this is beautiful to see. Almost all coaches have been practising Judo. They mime the actions during the games. Beautiful!
The stress and dedication are understandable. They have witnessed the athlete during the pre-Olympics and the hardships along the way. They have been pushing, put an arm around their trainee, uttered words of comfort during setbacks and performed motivational speeches at Monday mornings. They have done all in order to prepare their athlete to the best of their ability.
And now, when that one moment in time is there, it is out of their hands. Does their pupil
execute the discussed tactics, does he or she has the ability to pull out the best at the most critical moment? I can only image how that must feel. Utter tension and adrenaline. And hope. Hope that it all comes together. And when it does; exaltation. Or when it doesn’t; no words, just an arm or a hug. Sharing the outcry of victory or sharing the silence of the defeat. It’s all in The Games.