Olympic Lesson: Be a part of improving

The Mexican delegation in Tokyo 2020 showed that there are high-performing talents in the country, but at the same time revealed the work that needs to be done in the sport. The episode reminds me of the scenario Great Britain faced in Atlanta 96. The Britons finished the occasion with one gold and consider it one of their greatest failures in their sporting history. After 25 years, they took fourth place in the medal table with 65 medals, of which 22 are in first place.

What happened in a quarter of a century? I found an answer at the UK Cycling Team. In 2003, a cyclist named Dave Brailsford was hired by the Breton Cycling Team as the new High Performance Manager. His methodology was continuous improvement. Dave focused with great determination on improving 1% in hundreds of opportunities at once, from seated posture, bench press, to nutrition and the mindset of athletes. Everything had to be improved by 1%, and it is the sum of these small changes that generate an extraordinary effect. From 2007 to 2017, the British team won 178 world championships and 66 gold medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Yes, you have to be objective and find out where you went wrong in trying to rebuild the path. It depends on the authorities and institutions as well as sports enthusiasts and athletes; But I invite you not only to stay put and point out where these games have failed, I think it is wise to ask ourselves: What can we do to support our athletes?

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It’s time to stop dividing and ask ourselves instead: How can we be part of a 1% improvement to help athletes move forward?

The first task, and this corresponds to all Mexicans, is to stop destroying athletes on social networks. Athletes represent Mexico in international competitions with love on our chest. I don’t know of a single athlete who hasn’t started a competition without imagining the flag flying in the place of honor. Athletes, even if they compete individually, we need to work as a team. Our victories and defeats are the result of the unlimited, strategic and hard work of a group of nutritionists, trainers, psychologists, physical trainers, masseuses and consultants, whose sole goal is to raise Mexico’s name high. You are all our team.

The second part is understanding the importance of athletes to our society. The athlete’s career continues beyond retirement, as athletes become leaders and role models for all future generations. Supporting the athletes in Mexico is not only a matter of resources, it is also an emotional one. Not supporting them does not mean polarizing our youth, losing future leaders, and accepting that the outcome we get is what we deserve.

The author is Ismael Hernandez, 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Medalist. MBA from Duke University and Business Analyst from Harvard University, working for Mastercard, a leading financial services company. Its mission is to support athletes in their transition after retirement.

The Tokyo Olympics were a reminder that unity is strength. A respite from the spreading fear of a virus that could cause our society to collapse. A celebration of international cooperation, brotherhood and the power of human anatomy. The closing ceremony slogan says it all: We are stronger when we work together. Inside and outside the sports field. With the right support and counseling, Mexican athletes will not only be able to climb onto the podium victorious, but also learn to get off it.

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And how will you support our athletes?

The author is Ismael Hernandez, 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Medalist. MBA from Duke University and Business Analyst from Harvard University, working for Mastercard, a leading financial services company. Its mission is to support athletes in their transition after retirement.

@ismael.mhernandez

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