Raising Resilient Athletes


Keep Your Chances Alive

Keep Your Chances Alive

Before going to a big event, there is everytime the topic about qualification.

Qualifications for the Winter Olympics are a hot topic right now. A team can only nominate a limited number of athletes, and a few of these athletes may still not compete because they will be there as "alternates." Of course, this is not only the case for the Olympic Games but a great example.

I know being at the Olympics is a huge deal, and reaching it is incredible. But let me tell you, just watching your teammates race when you are at the same level and would have the same chances fighting for a medal is fun, but also not fun. If it is your dream to go to the Olympics, you may actually want to compete. But even going there “only” as a reserve, you still don´t want to bury your head into the sand too early. Who knows what opportunities will appear. 

To make this more tangible, I will use a real experience from a year where we did not have Olympics but World Championships. From an athletic perspective, this is technically the same, just another year, and it sounds a bit less valuable.

I once was in the situation of being not only a substitute but the substitute's substitute. I had fulfilled all qualification criteria, just less often than six other athletes on my team. As the second substitute, I was only welcome to go to theWorld Champion preparation camp. The possibility of getting to race at the World Championships was not really apparent. But even a hint of a chance is a possibility that should not be given away. That´s why I decided to concentrate in this preparation training camp very much on the aspects that I could quickly raise the most to an acceptable level.

To do so, I picked three things to focus on:

  1. I was working on my shooting skills to show high hitting rates at the range in every single training session. 
  2. I decided to implement specific ski strength whenever it made sense.
  3. And I included training aspects, which helped me in the past to get into racing shape. 

Due to the absence of my friend, teammate, and roommate due to Pneumonia, it happened, and I rose from being a substitute of a substitute to actually being the substitute. With this new “title,” I got my ticket to the World Championships. At this point, I wasn't very emotional about it. On the one hand, I still didn´t have a spot in any of the rases, and I felt bad for Martina, who had an excellent World cup season going to now miss the World Championships as the highlight.  

But now, I was with the team at the World Championships, and somehow my shooting performance in the preparation camp and the race venue itself seemed to pay off. The coaches gave me a spot and, with that, a chance to compete in the individual competition over 15km with four times shooting. The same race I won Olympic Gold two years before. Still, nobody expected great things from me, myself included.

But I had two goals for the race: 

  1. To not let pass an athlete who started shortly after me.
  2. And to do at the shooting range what I was working on the last weeks.

I managed to hit these goals, and some fortunate circumstances seem to have come together. I had great equipment fast skis, was in my best shape of the season, and in the end, I won my first Gold medal at World Championships. Martina was very happy for me and one of the first ones who reached out after I crossed the finish line.

I would like to encourage you always to be ready when unexpected opportunities arise, like in this true story. 

It sounds a little bit like a Hollywood movie, and I was lucky to play the main character. It is s more likely that these possibilities do not open up. I think it´s still worth it to keep your chances alive and to know that you did your best. It will pay off later if it is not for this specific competition.

Just keep your chances alive!


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