Rio Reconnaissance as an assurance of success for the British Judo at Olympics and Paralympics
For the athletes we work with day to day, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are the pinnacle of their careers. As such, it is imperative that they are best prepared to deliver their optimal performance on the day, when it matters the most. Having a thorough plan in place for each athlete leading up to the day of competition can be a major factor in the search for success. It also helps to combat some of the challenges that accompany the realities of some of the biggest sporting events in the world.
For the last 3 weeks I have been in Brazil with other members of our British Judo performance team as part of this planning process. Our aim has been to dot the I’s and cross the T’s with regards to our athletes’ final 10 days leading up to the Games this Summer.
The first part of our trip was to train at what will be our preparation camp in Belo Horizonte; Minas Tennis Club. An hour flight-time from Rio, this will be where our athletes can train and acclimatise before moving into the athletes’ village. The facilities at Minas are outstanding; there is a dojo, strength and conditioning gym (that will be kindly installed with new kit prior to the Games by the British Olympic association) physiotherapy and medical suite, as well as numerous recovery swimming pools. The visit was a great chance for our athletes and staff to catch up with the Minas team and help tease out the details of our training plans and requirements, as well as brain storming logistical arrangements (even down to sourcing clothes horses and storing them at the hotel to prevent the athletes’ rooms being full of wet Judo kits in the lead up to the Games).
After a week in Belo, we travelled into Rio. The flight times are a mirror of our travel plans in at the Games so we collected wellbeing monitoring data from our athletes throughout this trip in order to feed this into our coaching team and best plan their training week leading up to their competition day. In Rio we took part in the Judo test event being staged in the (almost!) fully completed Carioca 1 Arena at the Olympic Park; our Olympic and Paralympic Judo competitions will be held in Arenas 2 and 3 but they all have similar layouts and so it was a great chance for our athletes and staff to get a feel for the competition venues. As in Belo, it was also an important opportunity to build relationships with the local staff that will be working at the venues during the Games. Having good relationships with local contacts is so important and can really make the difference if you run into snags on competition day; from a physio perspective I was able to catch up with the medical co-ordinator in charge of Judo and talk about the venue medical facilities and discuss various injury and trauma scenarios in preparation for the Games.
During our time in Rio we spent time investigating our transportation plans and gathered information on some of the possible challenges surrounding this; things like the traffic, heat, fluid supplies and the underfoot terrain (important for our visually impaired Paralympians).
Another key aspect of our travel planning was to examine the distances and travel times from place to place, in particular from the athletes’ village to the venue and to the British School (the location of our final training base prior to the Olympics).
Over the next few months, our performance team will be working hard on using all the information gathered on this reconnaissance trip to design bespoke daily plans for each of our athletes leading up to their competition day at the Games. The knowledge we have acquired by visiting Belo, Rio and the venues will also help us plan for some of the inevitable ‘obstacles’ that are sure to crop up as we plot our way to a golden summer for Judo.
Published by the English Institute of Sport