Home Sports Mark Spitz: Seven ways to survive the Olympic Games

Mark Spitz: Seven ways to survive the Olympic Games

Spitz, now 71, held the document of seven gold medals in a single Games when he dominated the pool in Munich in 1972, a tally that was surpassed by Michael Phelps in 2008.

That was after Spitz had backed himself to win six golds in Mexico City in 1968, solely to win two, each in relays — a disappointment that he says motivated him to obtain his record-breaking feat 4 years later.

Here, the former swimmer from the United States outlines the classes he discovered over the course of his Olympic profession.

1. Be ready, be motivated, and be fortunate

Lots of people going to the Olympic Games have skilled their entire life to achieve this. I as soon as calculated that over the 13 or 14 years of my profession main up to Munich, I had swum round 26,000 miles — sufficient to go round the equator, the entire of this planet.

But then, so did one other 200,000 athletes who had been swimmers at the time. So, what singled me out? Maybe it was just a little little bit of luck. Maybe it was the program that I used to be in. Maybe it was my “failure” in 1968 that motivated me to do higher.

Australia's Michael Wenden swims to victory in the 100m freestyle at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Spitz, in lane seven, finished third.

2. Life in the Olympic village

I feel the village is incredible, however quite a lot of the massive athletes do not even keep there.

After they compete, possibly they’re going to present again up at the village — as soon as they’ve secured the gold medal.

3. Beware of distractions

There’s an important ambiance in the village, good for constructing friendships. But you are all there to do a job.

Sometimes I felt that the village wasn’t for me, it might be very distracting. It definitely was in 1968, when the swimming occasions had been held in the second week. I used to be younger and I misplaced a part of my focus, I obtained concerned in buying and selling pins and doing all the different stuff.

It’s totally different now, although. Athletes are skilled to keep sharp, no matter when their competitors is.

Spitz competes in the butterly at the  1972 Summer Olympics.

4. If at first you do not succeed …

I typically consider Doug Russell in 1968. He swam slower than my world document in the 100m butterfly however nonetheless received the gold; I solely obtained silver. But his win meant that he obtained to swim in the medley relay, not me. So, my silver probably value me two golds.

In my remaining occasion, the 200m butterfly, I may have gone two seconds slower than my private greatest and received the gold, however I used to be eight seconds slower and I completed lifeless final. The 200 ‘fly turned out to be my first race in Munich and I made positive that wasn’t ever going to occur once more.

They referred to as me a failure and that obtained to me. So, a nasty expertise can encourage any person to develop into very profitable.

Spitz competes at the 1982 World Swimming Championships.

5. Slightly misdirection does not harm …

My Russian rivals at Munich had by no means seen me swim in individual they usually had been gracious sufficient to give me a lane throughout considered one of their apply periods.

I knew they had been taking footage of me, so I began doing a little silly stroke that had nothing to do with something. They requested if I all the time swam like that and I mentioned “yeah.”

Then they requested if my mustache slowed me down. I’d been planning to shave it off that evening, however I discovered myself saying that it really deflected the water away from my mouth and I may get my face loads decrease and my physique extra streamlined. It most likely did gradual me down by a number of hundredths of a second, however I used to be profitable by seconds — so it did not matter.

Anyway, after that, I made a decision to hold the mustache and it ended up being an attention-grabbing trademark!

Sptiz is presented with his 200m butterfly gold in Munich.

6. Be life like

Roughly 10,000 athletes go to the Summer Games, and there are about 250 occasions.

If you embody all the group sports activities, round 1,000 medals will likely be handed out. So that signifies that solely 10% of the athletes competing are going to be “profitable.”

For many, simply getting to the Games is an achievement, nevertheless it’s solely actually about 15% who’re in the hunt for the {hardware}. There are going to be quite a lot of disappointments.


7. If you make it to the podium, make the most of the second …

Take all of it in as a result of it’s going to by no means occur once more; at no different level in your life is any person going to stick you on a podium like that they usually’re not going to play your nationwide anthem.

In later life, your success will not be measured in the identical method, as a result of there’s all the time going to be any person that made a greater deal, a much bigger deal, a much bigger acquisition with extra money.

So, for those who’re fortunate sufficient to be a kind of folks, it is solely going to be for a second after which everyone else strikes on. You’ve obtained to study to stay with that.

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