Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Olympic Camp #2 (part 2)

The second half of our Olympic Camp in Canberra, had us hosting the Japanese National Team for some training games. While the Japanese are not highly ranked in the water polo world, they displayed some refreshing attributes. The Japanese goal is ultimately to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. We went in knowing that they weren’t going to be the strongest competitors that we were going to come up against, but they were going to be fast.

The combination of altitude and only playing with 9 players, meant there was going to be plenty of game time and we were definitely going to be feeling the effects. What I didn’t expect was the Japanese girls attitude. They not only trained their hearts out, but showed up to every game ready to play (even though most games had about 10-15 goal difference) and came out firing every quarter of every game.
Photo thanks to AIS Facebook Page

With the camp reaching it’s final days there was anticipation in the air. Selection was up for grabs on the upcoming tour to Montenegro, Brazil and USA. Which meant the very important step of checking out some of the sites in Rio, as well as some of the venues. Getting the lay of the land is helpful in our preparation for the Games as you can start some visualisation training, plus if we can fit in some site seeing while we are there, means no distraction while competing at the Games… especially with family and friends all having a great holiday while you’re stuck in the most intense and pressure filled experience of your sporting career (seems fair).

Photo thanks to AIS Facebook Page
While it is not the be all and end all if you miss out on this tour, it is however, an indication of where you are currently positioned in the team. We will take 15 away out of the 19 players currently involved.  As the days continue to count down, the stress and pressure for selection continue to build as we head into the holiday season. As they say, no rest for the wicked…. 

 To see who made the cut, check out Water Polo Australia

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Olympic Camp #2: AIS Altitude House

Altitude House Colouring Time
There is less then 300 days until the Rio Olympics get under way and the Aussie Stingers and I are hitting new heights (literally).  After a quick week at home we travelled to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra for our second Olympic Camp. Here we have 12 out of 19 girls staying in the Altitude House, which is set to simulate living at 2,500m above sea level. Who would have thought that at 29 years of age I would be sleeping in a bunk bed in a windowless room for a minimum of 14 hours a day… What kind of hell is this? The low oxygen environment makes climbing the single flight of stairs to the apartment feel like a 2-hour fitness session. To say that these 3 weeks are going to be tough is a massive understatement.

Recovery Time with Massage Chairs and Moon Boots
We have 19 girls vying for only 13 positions and things are getting interesting. The first week of camp had us run though our paces with swim and strength testing. This definitely made for a hard first week. Camps based in Canberra have some great advantages, such as we have the ability to train at the times we want (no 5am starts!), we have access to the recovery centre (ice baths, massage chairs and moon boots galore), plus all our support staff are on site, doctors, nutritionists, physiotherapists, massage therapists, physiologists and psychologists are all easily accessed to help ensure that both our bodies and minds remain in tiptop shape and are prepared to embark into one of the hardest and most challenging training period of our Olympic preparation.

The second half of this camp we will be hosting the Japanese team for some training games. While it’s all well and good to train against each other it is nothing compared to training against another team. Having opposition to train against allows us to work on any and all combinations within the team. This will give all athletes the opportunity to make some important steps into cementing their position in the team. Consistency will be a key attribute needed over the next 10 months as the girls will be fighting for a place in the team every day and at every session.
Escaping the AIS for a Sunday Team Lunch

Till next time!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Olympic Camp 1: Sydney

It is easy for people to miss all the elements that go into building an elite athlete and an elite team. Four years are spent focused solely on a single goal that when all is said and done comes down to two weeks of the biggest emotional and physical roller-coaster ride you can ever experience. It’s less than a year out from the Rio Olympic Games and we are getting down to the business end of things.

Our first Aussie Stingers Olympic Camp was held over two weeks in Sydney. We were based out at Sydney Olympic Park in Homebush. It was here that I saw my first ever senior women’s water polo game when the girls won the Gold at the 2000 Games and one of the reasons why I got into water polo in the first place. It was great to get a reminder of what and why I have spent all these hours, days and years working towards. It can be easy to forgot where it all started and get bogged down it all the hardships and obstacles that can get in your way.

After a disappointing forth finish at the recent World Championships we have a lot of work ahead of us both in and out of the water. While we first week started off relatively moderate in the water, due to everyone coming back off a break. The second week kicked up gears in the pool and out, with plenty of meetings to discuss our plan and the processes we hope to implement to enable us to play at our absolute best individually and as a team.

We have a great bunch of girls involved in this preparation process, which will be important in the coming months. Living in each other’s pockets for the next 10 months will be one of the tests the team will have to face. The honesty and respect that we have for one another will endeavour to help us wade through the minefield that is team sports.

With the first camp done and dusted we are home for a week and then it’s right back into the thick of it with a three week camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.