Friday, November 23, 2007

COC Beijing Olympic Excellence Series

This past weekend I was invited to Ottawa for the Canadian Olympic Committee's Beijing Olympic Excellence Series.

Here is the COC's take on the event:

"The purpose of the Olympic Excellence Series is to bring together athletes who have demonstrated podium potential for the next Olympic Games along with the coaches, team leaders and support staff who will accompany them to the Games. The primary goal of the Olympic Excellence Series is to help prepare the athletes and coaches and support team members for medal performances by providing them with practical skills and strategies they can use to prepare for podium success. The secondary objective is to inspire and motivate all involved, leaving everyone with a greater sense of confidence and drive in their quest for the podium."

This was my third conference this fall, after the SPIN Summit in Vancouver, and the annual Sport Leadership Summit held in Halifax this year. I find these events thought provoking, and I enjoy meeting and sharing ideas with coaches and technical officials from other sports. There were a number of people with deep Olympic experience at the conference, and many helpful ideas based on past Olympic experience where shared. The COC is doing a great job assisting preparation for the Beijing games across all sports.

Highlights from the Excellence Series this year were the keynote from Canadian Astronaut Julie Payette. Julie flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1999 and worked in the International Space Station. There are many parallels between the process of becoming an astronaut and athletes who train and compete at the highest levels. Julie's presentation was excellent and provided great perspective on striving toward excellence.

The final key note was by Ultra Runner Ray Zahab. Ray completed a amazing feat of physical and mental endurance by running across the entire Sahara Desert, 7000km in 111 days, running up to 16hrs every single day. A film crew documented the event which will be out in 2008. More info here. Ray's presentation was excellent and inspiring - his theme was that the only limits we have are those we place on ourselves.

There were a number of other excellent presentations, including from Swimming Head Coach Tom Johnson, Athletics Coach Wynn Gmitroski, and Dr Dave Smith, physiologist from the Calgary.

I'll close with a quote from Dr Dave Smith about preparing for Beijing: "You are going to war, plan relentlessly"

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