USA Today ran an interesting article about Jennie Reed today. Reed is a dominant U.S. cyclist. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, however, she failed to win a medal.
Explaining this disappointment, Reed said:
"I think the whole experience of having so much stimulus, there's nothing that could have prepared me for that,... Trying to rest when you have that much stimulus, my body never felt rested when I was there. So when I go again, I'll know how to prepare for that."
Reed seems to use the word "stimulus" as a euphemism for "pressure" or "high-stakes." Every athlete competing at the Olympics is world-class -- by definition. They have all spent every day for at least the last few years preparing for their specific events. Despite all that, some of these otherwise flawless performers make simple mistakes.
The Olympics are more than a physical competition. You have to have the physical part down just to get in. The real competition is mental.
Best of luck to Jennie Reed in 2008. It sounds like she has identified her challenge, and her recent victories suggest that she will be able to overcome it.
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