In case you didn’t know, the winter Paralympic Games starts today in Sochi.
The Opening Ceremony tonight marks the start of a 10 day period of competition, and for the athletes competing, a seminal moment in their sporting careers, and their lives.
For the 12 strong Paralympics GB team, the Paralympic Games is an opportunity to step up and demonstrate their readiness to perform on the big stage.
As part of our work with Paralympics GB, I’m privileged to be out in Sochi supporting the GB contingent. Most of my time will actually be spent not with the current team, but with a group of high potential athletes who have been earmarked as medal prospects for Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018. For the last 10 years, Team GB and Paralympics GB have invested time and money in ensuring that athletes and staff are ready for the unique Olympic/Paralympic environment by giving prospective athletes an inside look at what it’s like to live and compete at a Games, so that they’re ready for the environment when they come to compete at their first Games. A Games environment is different – the athlete village, public, media and family expectations, the competition venues, and the whole Games ‘circus’ mean that they’re facing a different set of playing conditions from normal. For this Games, there’s some political context to add to the mix – and, for skiers, there’s some rapidly rising temperatures to deal with (it hit 15 degrees on the mountains today, making some conditions less than ideal). The ability of athletes to accept the conditions and respond quickly and appropriately to them is key. Being prepared for the conditions, so that you’re building readiness to perform in sometimes unfavourable and dynamic conditions is vital – and Team GB and Paralympics GB work hard to ensure that athletes are best prepared to be 100% ready when it matters the most.
So, what’s the equivalent in your world? You may not have a performance moment of the magnitude of an Olympics or Paralympics, but you face important performance moments weekly and daily. The ability to understand, accept and be ready for your playing conditions is vital to deliver consistent high performance, as well as excellence in those key performance moments. Over the coming 10 days, GB Paralympians will aim to deliver the same medal success of their Olympic counterparts. Win or lose, athletes on the GB team are focused and ready to produce their very best performances – irrespective of conditions they face.