It is a long weekend in my homeland this weekend, the following Monday being a holiday called the “National Sports Day.” And we had a wonderful event today in my town kicking it off – a parade by our 2016 Olympics and Paralympics medalists! We got to relive their glorious medal-winning moments one last time, and we thanked them once more for the pride and courage they showed.
But I was a little disappointed that I did not see any of their coaches in the parade. Maybe it was a budget thing, but did they not deserve to be there as well?
In this year’s Games, in some sports we had our star athletes continue to reign over their competitors, and in many others we witnessed the resurgence of our national teams which used to dominate the world once upon a time. In most cases, none of it could have been possible without the former and current coaches.
In one sport, a young man still in his thirties, and an Olympic medalist himself, took over the head coach position shortly after the previous Games when the national team hit an all-time low. In the four years, he restructured the team based on his knowledge and experience as a former competitor – he changed everything from training to diet, incorporating modern science and technology and gathering all sorts of information from all over the world. This year, his men’s team won medals in all seven weight classes!
In another, a lady, who we once called the “Mother” of her sport for her unequalled ability to guide our national team to become Olympic medalists at all six Games she coached, was asked to return as head coach after a ten-year hiatus. In those years, our team deteriorated until it failed to win a single medal at the previous Games, while her streak of the team she coached winning medals continued. And her streak is still going after this year’s Games!
And in yet another, we invited a coach from the land of its origin after the previous Paralympics Games to build a strong foundation in our national team on which to grow. He had done just that, and even after he left upon expiry of his tenure a couple of years ago, our team continued to grow, slowly climbing up the rankings. On the last day of the Games this year, our team faced the team from the land of the origin for the medals… it was a tall order, but we did it!
These are three very different sports, and their coaches are quite different in age, gender, and race, but it appears they had one thing in common – their coaches are great at making their athletes great.
Maybe they are great at finding athletes with the potential to be great at their respective sports.
Maybe they are great at knowing what needs to be taught when, and how much.
Maybe they are great at measuring progress in relation to potential, and thereby give appraisals and pressures at the most appropriate points.
And maybe they are great at getting others to believe in them to guide successfully to victory.
Now, did they come to be great at all these things all on their own?
I do not know these particular coaches well enough to answer this question. But maybe they had great coaches themselves, who had great role models, who had great assistants, who belonged to great organizations, who had great sponsors…
Well, I think you get my point – behind every great man there is a great coach who in turn has many layers of greatness behind him/her. Then maybe, if we want our young minds to become great in the fields of their choices, we need to stand behind their potential coaches to make them great first. Is this not a great cause to stand behind?
And just maybe, if we do a great job, they will let us join the parade when their pupils become great.
Once again, congratulations to every Olympic and Paralympic medalist, and of course, the coaches behind them for a great job bringing out their best performances and guiding them to the podium!