Interesting Article from Pedalmag.com below. It highlights many of the keys to a coach-athlete relationship but also the need for sustained dedication rather than looking for overnight success. Take a read, very motivating from any standpoint!
by Dan Proulx/Team Canada Coach in Beijing (from www.pedalmag.com)
August 24, 2008 (Beijing, China) - What a wild day on Saturday! For much of the women's Olympic mountain mike race, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) was in third position and fighting to hold onto the bronze medal over Maja Wloszczowska of Poland. It was a tough battle. In the final km, Catharine missed a shift and that was all it took to slip into 4th. There was no disappointment, however, Pendrel’s progress toward this result has been nothing short of remarkable.
I first coached Catharine six years ago when she was a recreational rider in the UVic Triathlon club. She joined the club to stay in shape and make new friends in her adopted home. Catharine began to dabble in cycling a year later, experimenting with road and mountain bike racing. A short time after, I began working with Catharine to help her be more competitive at BC Cups. When I was running the Opus team, she actually wasn't quite strong enough to make the first edition of the team. Her determination and perseverance paid off with steadily improving results - especially on the mountain bike where she enjoyed many happy miles with her husband-to-be and riding partner, Keith Wilson.
Catharine's training has progressed steadily over the last six years. It has been planned and adapted to bring her up to a new level each year. Last year, most would say that Catharine was the third choice to make the Olympic Team. In 12 months, her steady build-up and peaking plan has taken her to a new level - World Cup winner and medal contender at the Olympic Games.
If I had to characterize her training I would say that it's well planned hard work that focuses on speed, power and intensity. She is not a mega-mile rider. Her training is optimal and not maximal. She has a lot of areas where she can still take her training to a new level. If I were to show you her training plans from 2002-2008, you would see that she has slightly increased hours each year - averaging about 14 hours per week over the course of the year. She has a higher focus on mountain bike specific riding (as opposed to many competitors who do tons of road miles). She is an incredibly hard worker who handles each training session with precision and attention to detail. The level of feedback she provides makes my job as a coach a lot easier.
In addition to the incredible genetics that Catharine possesses, she is also blessed with the technical influence of husband Keith and brother Geoff Pendrel (former National Team downhiller) who likes to play hard on the dirt. The technical development that has progressed while Catharine goes through her program has also been tremendous. Mostly importantly Keith is a consistent and reliable training partner for her (in addition to being her most important support network).
Catharine will now be setting her sites on London 2012. In the next four-year cycle, she will be looking for wins at European World Cups, Commonwealth Games and the World Championships, in addition to defending her Pan American Games win from 2007. It’s going to be an exciting quadrennial.
The best advice I could give to any athletes out there who wish to aspire to Catharine's level is to dream big and pursue your goals with all of your might. For coaches, I would simply say that you can never tell who will be a future champion, so it's important to give every rider an opportunity to develop. Our job, as coaches, is to find the diamond in the rough. It's relatively easy to pick up talented riders who are already fast, but developing one from scratch is the hallmark of a truly successful program. If more coaches took development seriously in lieu of the "call me when you are fast" philosophy, Canada could develop even more champion athletes like Pendrel in the future. There is no such thing as a bad rider - just riders who have not reached their personal potential yet.
Congratulations on a great ride and great season Catharine. It is an incredible experience working with such a talented and hard working athlete. You have gone from beginner to being one of the best in the world in a short six years! The next four years will be even more exciting.