The turmoil and uncertainty in the sporting world will mean athletes who are mentally strong will have a big advantage at next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to Beijing 2008 canoe sprint Olympic silver medalist, Rene Poulsen.
The Dane, who is hoping to compete at his fourth Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, told the ICF podcast “How Sport Stars Cope in Covid-19 Lockdown” that the stress being placed on athletes because of the virus could prove too much of a challenge for some athletes.
“The ones who are going to win at the Olympics are the ones that are going to be able to stay sane and stay calm in this situation because it is so different,” Poulsen said.
“The mental preparation is definitely the hardest part of this.”
He cited the example of athletes in Denmark who have to also undertake work apprenticeships.
“We’re not exactly paid to do what we do in Denmark, so education is really important,” he said.
“The big challenge for next year will be whether or not people can afford to go to the Olympics. Some people will have to drop out because they can’t afford it, either in a financial way, or work way, or family reasons. Some people just won’t be able to make it.”
Other guests on the ICF’s third podcast included Austria’s Nadine Weratschnig, who is hoping to make her canoe slalom Olympic debut next year, and New Zealand paracanoeist Scott Martlew, who is in line for his second Paralympics.
22-year-old Weratschnig has been able to return to the water to train this month. Like many athletes, she believes she is healthy enough to withstand the virus, but she has worried about other family members.
“I was thinking about it, not so much because of me, but because of my parents,” Weratschnig said.
“Maybe it’s stupid, but I feel young and strong to be able to get rid of this in a few weeks, so I wasn’t really worrying about myself. I just try to do the best out of the situation.
“I am not too worried and too concerned. I am not focusing too much on the Olympics, and so I think I am mentally strong for this.”
Scott Martlew is also back out on the water this month. He has benefitted from High Performance New Zealand making gym equipment available for elite athletes during lockdown, but admitted it was a struggle to get through such a long time without getting on the water.
“The first few weeks the motivation was up there, but the last couple have been a bit tough,” Martlew said.
“We’re just allowed to get back on the water now, I’ve been on the water for three days, which has been a nice change.
“It has to be business as usual. It was disappointing when they had to move it, but it was the right decision. You’ve just got to deal with it I guess. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
The full ICF podcast can be heard here
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