Monday, August 18, 2008

For one is silver, an the other is gold...

I won't dwell on Chong Wei not winning the gold medal..

To be fair, he did very well considering the intense pressure by the Chinese spectators -- you could hardly hear the empire on the speakers.. but I guess the dude was just too overwhelmed by the whole Olympic thingy.. and having the RM1million 'golden incentive' is just additional pressure.. I mean, if they seriously wanted the athletes to be motivated, the incentive should have been announced 4 years ago.. then things might have been different... extra investment on individual training might make sense to the athletes..

Simple equations:
Input --> Process --> Output

On the other side, you have someone lile Phelps..
I came across this article and its worth to read -- even to be used as a case study..

Built to succeed ... and assume his place in history
Mental strength, intense focus drove Phelps to epic 8-for-8 in Beijing
By Alan Abrahamson,
Posted Sunday, August 17, 2008 9:37 AM ET

BEIJING -- One day last March, at the University of Michigan, where Michael Phelps and several of his Club Wolverine teammates were training, the whiteboard poolside bore a message.

"In business," it said, "words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises but only performance is reality."
The quote was taken from a business book, but, in sports, it's the same. And, off his performance this week in Beijing, winning eight gold medals in eight events, the reality is that Phelps, with 14 golds in his Olympic career, is now alone in the history books -- he has won more gold medals than anyone else in Olympic history and more gold medals than anyone else in any single Games.
Four others had been tied with nine golds, including swimmer Mark Spitz, winner of seven at Munich in 1972.
"I'm almost speechless," said Peter Ueberroth, the chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "He's beginning to set a whole new standard for his sport and for America.
"The United States Olympic Committee is very proud of him, as is USA Swimming and basically every citizen in our country and in many other countries. He's a true athlete and represents what's best about the Olympic movement."
Eight medals.
And, overall, now 16 in his Olympic career, just two shy of the 18 won by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina - a milestone sure to animate Phelps as he turns and sets his sights on four years from now, in London in 2012.
Only performance is reality, and the reality is that Phelps' performances here in Beijing and over the course of his career deserve to be more fully appreciated by the wider public in the way that Tiger Woods' majors are savored.
Why he's not so appreciated is easy to explain.

It's swimming, not golf, and thus part of the American cultural landscape only every four years. Moreover, it's a sport that, unlike golf, doesn't convey emotion well - swimmers are goggled and their heads under water a lot of the time. Moreover, Phelps makes it look easy - even though what he's doing is outrageously difficult.
"I hope people realize," U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Executive Jim Scherr said this week, "just how difficult what he's doing is. We will never see anything like it again."
The reality is in the performance, and in one package Phelps combines physical gifts, mental toughness and a passion for the sport.
That's tough to beat.
To start, his physical gifts are indeed almost freakish. These are perhaps best displayed when he is on the blocks, just before the start of a race, when he wraps his arms around himself, as if he were a condor about to take flight.
This, too, is central to the performance: Phelps loves to swim. Loves it. Exuberantly.
"It's a very happy marriage between someone who needed something like this and this being available," his longtime mentor and coach, Bob Bowman, said in an interview earlier this year.
"I think he still sees the water as a haven from everything else."
Phelps, in one of a number of conversations over the past year, said, "Bob and I both talked about this. When I'm on my best, when I'm training the best, I'm happy. I'm smiling at workouts, I'm joking around, I'm talking. For the most part throughout my career, I'm happy going in the pool.
"If you enjoy every moment at the pool, you're bound -- you're guaranteed -- to train your best and swim your best."
Phelps holds an inordinate appetite for incredibly hard work. In December and again in April, Bowman took Phelps and the other swimmers at the Michigan base to Colorado Springs, Colo., for altitude training.
The others included Peter Vanderkaay, the bronze medalist in the 200m free on Tuesday, and the anchor on the 4x200m free relay. The three-week camps run to nearly 70 workouts.
"I have pretty hefty goals this year," Phelps said in January at a meet in Long Beach, Calif., after detailing a series of four-a-day workouts in Colorado that included three swims, the first at 6 in the morning. "It's going to take a lot to get there."
Phelps is ruthlessly competitive. Poker, spades, swimming -- he wants to win.
Teammate Erik Vendt said, "When it gets to be game time, you can see it in his face: 'I'm Michael Phelps and I'm not going to lose.'
"When push comes to shove, he is going to be there. I have never seen him lose a close race."
"When I'm focused," Phelps said, "there is not one single thing, person, anything that can stand in my way of doing something. There is not. Never has been.
"If I want something bad enough, then I'm gonna get there. That's just how I always have been. If I don't get there, watch out - because it's going to be even worse and I'm going to have my head on even tighter and you will not get in my way."
Phelps is, moreover, possessed of an exquisite sense of awareness and timing about his own body and performance.
For one, Phelps has an uncanny ability to predict his times.
Every year, Phelps shares his goals with Bowman. He used to write them on a sheet of paper; now it's done via computer.
"He hands it to me and I read it. He is right on the money about where he ends up, almost always," Bowman said, and always has been ever since they first making these lists - when Phelps was a teenager, said his goal was to swim the 200m fly in 2:04.68 and then, at the junior nationals, swam the 200 fly - in 2:04.68.
"Pretty amazing. I don't know how it comes about but that's part of it."
Traditionally, Phelps has never said a word about what's on that paper. But now the 2008 version can be revealed:

"It all happened here this week," Phelps said Sunday.
In races, Phelps tends to go out slow and then come on strong.
Does that make sense? It's harder to come on stronger after you've already been swimming.
But Phelps does.
Which is why, when he went out hard in the first 50 meters of Tuesday's 200m free, it was clear he was not just going after the gold medal -- he was after the world record, too, which he himself had set last year at the World Championships in 1:43.86.
"The plan was to take it out and dare them to try and catch me," Phelps said afterward.
The plan probably -- Phelps never shares these things, except with Bowman -- was to break 1:43 as well.
He finished in 1:42.96.
For more than a dozen years now, as he has gone from boy to man, Phelps has submitted willingly if not obediently to Bowman's intense demands.
Bowman, who is something of a student of success literature, said a recurring theme of his coaching and direction is that "successful people make a habit of doing things that unsuccessful people don't like to do." That's it. They make a habit of doing things other people aren't willing to do. And that's our game here."
Finally, as Phelps has gotten older, he has developed an increasing maturity about himself and his place, not only in the pool but in the world around him.
Phelps turned 23 at the end of June. He endured the humbling public scrutiny of a drunk-driving matter after the Athens Games, after winning eight medals in 2004, six gold. He broke a wrist last year in a fall -- an injury that made him focus on what really mattered.
Which is -- testing himself to see what he ultimately is capable of.
Asked this spring whether he believed Phelps was the greatest American athlete of our generation, Bowman said, "My job is to make him be the greatest Michael Phelps. If he is that, all the other things you guys can bestow on him -- or not. My job is to help him go at the end of the day as far as he could go. Dealing with the other stuff is really counter-productive."
Spoken like a true coach.
"I will say he can be the greatest American athlete of our generation," Bowman said a moment later, adding, "If he has a successful summer, it would be hard to not start believing that."


Makes you start asking yourself..
"Just how bad do you want what you want?" ;)


Maya said...

wah..good read..thanks for sharing..tetiba semangat..i should get good coach/mentor and that 's not easy..people hardly share unless you pay for it ..

Azreena said...

What I want I cant get, no matter how badly I want it. Some boundaries are just not meant to be crossed. I've learned to live on with what I have and be happy with it. That'd be more meaningful :-)