Commonwealth and Academic Athletes

The 2018 Commonwealth Games are about to commence. Throughout this event, media saturation will relay the dramas, spectacles and accomplishments taking place at the Gold Coast. In addition to current student athletes who aspire to represent their country at future international competitions, there are a number of important areas associated with the development of elite athletes that are relevant for all students.

Fitness. Elite athletes must be supremely fit, physically and psychologically, if they are to participate and achieve at the Games. Sleep, nutrition, hydration, exercise, activities and thought patterns are carefully considered, adjusted and monitored to ensure positive health, development and optimal performance. The extreme fitness of elite athletes may not be an appropriate goal for students but establishing and maintaining psychological and physical fitness to ensure optimal academic performance and endurance is worth considering.

Goals. Athletes focus upon incremental gains and identify ways in which they can continue to develop their abilities and hone specific skills.  This is epitomised by the concept of Personal Best (PB), where athletes aim to improve their own performance, over time. “Humanity Equality Destiny”, the motto of the Commonwealth Games, was designed to encourage athletes to compete at their Personal Best while demonstrating good sportsmanship.  Students who focus upon incremental improvement; identify specific skills to develop further; aim to achieve their Personal Best with each assessment, will gradually progress to attain significant, long-term goals.

Preparation. A grueling training schedule precedes every lead-up competition and is structured to enable peak performance at the Commonwealth Games. Athletes have a support team, who teach, coach and support them in various ways. Feedback is regarded as critical to continual improvement so athletes seek out, respond to and incorporate feedback in preparing for events. Students prepare by reading, researching, completing assigned tasks, continuously revising. Feedback on academic tasks provides students with valuable strategies for improving personal performance. Developing a planned schedule for homework, assignments and establishing study routines will greatly facilitate preparation for assessments.

Perseverance. Life is uncertain; obstacles inevitably occur. An illness or injury will derail an athlete’s preparation or performance. Rapid recovery, appropriate intervention and perseverance in the face of difficulties are critical to the athlete resuming training and competing well. Paralympians are the epitome of resilience and perseverance in the face of enormous adversities. Students will encounter obstacles; hopefully not significant ones. Resilience and perseverance will be required to overcome adversities.

Celebrate. A spirit of celebration pervades the Commonwealth Games.  All athletes do not win medals; however there is celebration about participation in the Games, connections made, personal gains, PBs accomplished, individual and team achievements as well as medals won with considerable ability, skills and talent developed through many years of commitment.  It is important for students, like athletes, to acknowledge and celebrate experiences gained, personal and group achievements, as well as the attainment of significant goals.

© Michele Juratowitch            
michele@clearingskies.com.au