Olympic athletes interviewed – Episode 0

This post introduces a new and exciting format, interviews with Olympians.

This article and video discusses

My mission

Why do I want to interview Olympic athletes?

The first reason is that I believe, every Olympian has a story to share, the successes but also the failures in their life and what they learn from it,

The second reason is, that I want to bring attention to the life of an Olympian or past Olympian. Not all Olympians enjoy the same attention (e.g. media attention), however, in my work I have noticed, that these athletes dedicate their life to what they are doing and eat, breathe and live their sport. I experience it first hand with the athletes I am training.

Not all Olympians enjoy the same attention, however, they dedicate their life to what they are doing and eat, breathe and live their sport.

What’s in it for me?

I believe that everyone can learn from Olympians, the way they approach things, the way they overcome obstacles, the strategies and tactics they use to achieve their goals.

These interviews are not only meant for people with a background in sports or who want to achieve sporting goals, I really believe everyone can learn from them, because they have gone through adversity and difficulties and have overcome them.

And what you find most often is the strategies and tactics they are using are actually quite simple and you can apply it to yourself.

Olympians often use simple strategies and tactics, that everyone can use and apply for themselves.

Yes, I said simple, I didn’t say easy, it’s simple, and I think that is where the value lies.

Why interviewing Olympians?

The Olympics is the biggest sporting event around and it occurs only once every 4 years, just by being an Olympian you are already one of the best of the best and I truly believe we can learn from Olympians.

Another thing that sparked my interest is that when I was listening to Tim Ferris’ podcast, he interviewed Coach Sommer. Coach Sommer was a former Olympic coach for the US gymnastics team, and he has now built a business called GymnasticsBodies which basically uses gymnastic exercises to get into shape.

What really resonated with me in that interview is when he said (I am paraphrasing a bit), the internet is a funny place you can become known and a thought leader by shouting the loudest, but at the Olympics it’s different, you have to become known by merit.

The internet is a funny place you can become known and a thought leader by shouting the loudest, but at the Olympics it’s different, you have to become known by merit. (Coach Sommer)

That quote really sparked in me the idea of interviewing Olympians. I am training Olympians, I have Olympians around me, so I wanted to start an interview series listening to what Olympians can share with us.

In addition to that, I follow Tim Ferris and his podcast for some time and I really like his idea of dissecting the habits of world class performers.

Consequently, I want to dissect the habits and the stories of Olympians. The ultimate goal is,  that what they share can help you whether you are an athlete or whether you are a normal person who wants to achieve certain goals.

The ultimate goal is, that what Olympians share can help you to achieve your goals, whether you are an athlete or not.

And the third reason, which is a little bit selfish, but ever since I was a small kid I have been impressed by really outstanding performances, especially in sports, but also in other areas of life. Over the years I have worked with so many great individuals who have achieved sporting success and outstanding performances, that I really want to dive bit deeper into what makes that person special.

What I believe is really interesting and what I have seen from working with Olympians for the past eight years, is how hard they train, how many sacrifices they make in their lives to achieve sporting success and to chase their dreams.

I have shared glorious moments with my athletes, but more often than not we also share inglorious moments and I really think these moments are particularly interesting for people to see and listen to. Because most often people see the glorious moments, when things go well, however, the true character of the person is shown once things don’t go well. Therefore I want to give Olympians a platform to share their stories, their ups and downs, their highs and lows.

Most people see the glorious moments of an Olympian, however, the true character reveals in unglorious moments and how to react to those.

What can you expect in these interviews?

The first interview is Twan van Gendt, double Olympian, BMX Supercross, one of my athletes.

And he shares his story of how he got injured both times prior to the Olympics 2012 and the Olympics 2016.

Injuries are part of an athlete’s life, but if these injuries are severe and they happen within two months before the Olympics and you see your dream of placing on the podium and winning a medal at the Olympics fade away, how do you deal with that?

Even more exciting is the story how Twan managed to qualify for the Olympics despite these adversities and then ultimately manages to achieve a good result.

The second interview is track cyclist and silver medallist Matthijs Büchli, another athlete of mine, who against all odds qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Injuries were involved in his story as well, but although not being in the best shape of his life, he managed to qualify and then win the silver medal.

The third interview features Olympic champion 2012 in Olympic weightlifting, Aleksey Torokothiy from the Ukraine.

Aleksey explains how he focuses on one thing at a time and how he uses failure as a part of his progress. Aleksey and I were hosting a seminar and I had the chance to spend a fair amount of time with him and I can still hear him saying, “Focus on one way, focus on one way.”

Interview number 4 features track cyclist Jeffrey Hoogland, one of my athletes, Olympian 2016 and double World Champion 2018.

In the interview he explains the really interesting story of how he learned to access the full physical potential of his body. He actually of proved it at the World Championships this year (2018) where he went so deep into his reserves in the one-kilometer time trial, that they had to carry him off the bike after the event, because he had nothing left.

He won the event and set a new world record in that race.

The fifth interview is another BMX Supercross rider Niek Kimmann, and niek shares the story of how he went from Junior World Champion 2014 at the age of 18 to Senior World Champion 2015 at the age of 19 to being an Olympian in 2016 at the age of 20.

That all sounds pretty great, but he also shares the story how difficult it is when you have reached all your goals by the age of 20, the consequences that can have, and how he managed to come back and still motivate himself to set new goals and go towards his goals.

And even more interesting is that at the time we had this interview he was starting the 2018 season, which turned out to be his most successful season and he set new records within that season by winning 4 World Cups and finishing the season as world number 1.

Future interviews will feature Sam Willoughby, another BMX Supercross rider from Australia, and he explains how he went from the great moment of being a silver medalist at the London Olympics 2012 to a very dark moment at the Rio Olympics in 2016, to an even darker moment after that. How he has recovered from those challenging times; a really inspiring story to see how strong and positive someone can be.

I have Shanne Braspennincx, one of my athletes, and she shares the story of how she basically went from being a runner-up at the World Championships in 2015 to having a serious heart attack a few months later, not knowing whether she will be able to perform her sport ever again, fighting back and qualifying for the Olympic Games 2016 in less than one year.

A very interesting and insightful interview with Mark Tuitert, Olympic champion speed skating, 1500 meters, in Vancouver 2010, who shares the story that the road to that Olympic championship and that Olympic gold medal, was paved with difficulties and adversities along the way.

He shares how he qualified for his first Olympic Games in 2002 in Salt Lake City, approaching these Olympics as one of the favorites, and then completely trained himself into the ground because of over motivation.

He then didn’t even qualify for the next Olympic Games in 2006 in Turin. He ultimately qualified for the Olympic Games in 2010 in Vancouver, but wasn’t going into the Olympic Games as a favorite as most people said.

However, he himself believed that he would win at the Olympic Games, which he ultimately did.

And even more interesting is his philosophical approach, that he adopted a growth mindset to confront himself with adversities and ultimately overcoming those adversities.

Another inspiring interview is with Mariana Pajon from Colombia, double Olympic champion BMX Supercross, and having literally won anything she could possibly win in her sport.

Mariana outlines how she stays motivated and how she uses her nerves to get into a peak state to access the best possible performance.

And there will be more interviews coming after that.

Olympians I would like to interview

Some athletes I would really like to interview at some point in time are:

  • Nadia Comaneci gymnast, with ‘The Perfect 10’
  • Pyrros Dimas, Olympic weightlifting
  • Katarina Witt, figure skating
  • Alberto Tomba, alpine skiing, without knowing anything about alpine skiing, I just loved ‘Tomba la bomba’
  • A member of the Olympic dream team from 1992, preferably Michael Jordan
  • My personal hero from the past, Rafael Nadal, Olympic champion 2008 in tennis.

Let’s see how that turns out.

Future interviews will also feature coaches of Olympians, some fellow S&C colleagues of Olympians, and other members of the support staff of Olympians.