By CAROLINE MCMAHON
With the recent announcement of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, it got me to thinking. That there would be young people in training for that tournament in seven years. Seven years is a long time to prepare for any sporting event, and there will be many hopefuls all with Tokyo as their pinnacle of their sporting career. As talented as the athlete is, it will be a whole community behind them that helps them get to the Olympics.
My sons are lucky, they are fit and healthy. They both play an Olympic-recognised sport, water polo. While they are unlikely to go to an Olympics, they are training as if they are. At fourteen and sixteen years of age, they are only a few weeks away from a nationals tournament on the east coast. Their training has been ramped up to include six sessions per week ranging from 1.5-2 hours in length. Four of these sessions are on the weekend.
They are meant to be swimming on top of that to keep them swim-fit. So as well as their sporting commitments, they are also expected to study, attend compulsory music and athletic events for school, the eldest one works and the youngest will start shortly. There are inevitable clashes of timetables. Their fragile minds on a continuous treadmill trying to please everyone but in the end never completely satisfying anyone.
Music and sports masters as well as swimming and water polo coaches all disappointed when my sons are not able make it to every practice session, what ever it may be.
While the boys understand the importance of attending all sessions, it is just sometimes impossible to be at more than one place at a time.
Physically and mentally this is tough for my sons, it is their choice and they love all the positive attributes sport brings to their lives. The positives far outweigh the negatives to them.