TOKYO – South Africa’s rugby sevens team turned to video conferencing in their bid to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics as Neil Powell takes on the role of virtual coach to lead the team from his isolation room in Kagoshima.
The South African team has been affected by four infections, one in the rugby sevens team and three in the football team participating in the Games.
Sevens head coach Powell has tested positive for Covid-19 and has to self-isolate for 14 days, meaning he won’t be sidelined when one of the pre-tournament favorites aim for the ‘or from July 26 to 28.
READ ALSO: Blitzboks coach Neil Powell tested positive for Covid-19
But he will continue to help the team he has been coaching since 2013 in their preparations this week, albeit via a computer screen, and will liaise with assistant coach Renfred Dazel on match day.
The entire team was quarantined on arrival in Japan when they were identified as close contacts of an infected person on their flight from Doha to Tokyo. The group, Bar Powell, has since been cleared.
This delayed the team’s arrival at its base camp in Kagoshima from Wednesday to Saturday as they isolated themselves in Tokyo, meaning they missed essential training days.
“Obviously we need a little bit of time on the pitch from a physical point of view, so we hope to stretch our legs a bit,” said Dazel.
READ ALSO: Fear of the Olympic cluster as athletes test positive at the Games Village
“We’re all always in a good mood and understand that we can’t change those things that we can’t control. We were able to add some fun elements to the adjusted training schedule and it certainly helped.”
South Africa won a bronze medal under Powell at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and will again be among the favorites. They are in Group C with the United States, Kenya and Ireland.
Defender Thabiso Monyane and winger Kamohelo Mahlatsi, along with video analyst Mario Masha, are in isolation as they prepare to face hosts Japan in their opener on Thursday.
South Africa’s chief medical officer Dr Phatho Zondi said they were surprised at the infections, but he believes all protocols were followed for the country’s athletes participating in the Games.
READ ALSO: Six British athletes isolated in Tokyo according to Covid-19 protocols
“Each member of the South African team needed a full medical clearance as an eligibility requirement,” Zondi said in a statement.
“In addition, they were encouraged to self-isolate for two weeks prior to departure, monitor their health daily, report any symptoms, and produce two negative nasopharyngeal PCR tests performed within 96 hours of departure as per the requirements of Tokyo 2020.
“The timing of the positive results suggests that the PCR test in these individuals was performed during the incubation period of the infection, so they could be negative in South Africa and then positive in Japan.
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Earlier this fall, I ran my first marathon – in Chicago, at 3:37:49 – a far cry from anything I thought was possible a year and a half ago when I quit drinking and started drinking. jogging around my block. Now I know a lot about running. My brain is full of facts. I know Joan Benoit Samuelson broke the Boston Marathon world record not one, but two. She is the first woman to win the Olympic Games Marathon Championship, winning gold in 1984 in Los Angeles. When she had an arthroscopy 17 days before the Olympic marathon event, the surgeon kept her in bandages lest she rush to get back on her feet. In addition, she loves doing three workouts a day: a run, downhill skiing, then Nordic skiing. Also, like Benoit Samuleson, I know there are several basic rules about running: Don’t go too hard. Leave some in the engine for later. A fartlek isn’t something kinky: it’s a fast run, a bit slower than your typical 5K, or 3.2 miles. Yes, you can sprint to mile 15 if you push yourself. All of these facts and tips – my running education – come from the audio guided runs in the Nike Run Club app, a series created by Nike head coach Chris Bennett, better known to his followers as simply Coach Bennett.
I started listening to Nike’s guided audio tracks when there was no amount of anxious tunes from Rage Against the Machine or Jennifer Lopez. The 6 the album could take me through my 5.25 mile runmute from my Brooklyn apartment to work. (Later, when I first started training for the marathon, I couldn’t do 12-18 mile runs with just music.) A friend mentioned that Nike’s audio guided runs might reduce the monotony of the route.
Each guided run begins with the calm, upbeat voice of Bennett, who has the same enthusiasm that a new first-grade teacher has when he reads a fairy tale to a group of children. Users can choose from a wide variety of races depending on the time or distance they want. Some are short runs, like Lunch Run and I Need a Win Run. There is even a five minute race. Then there are the races Bennett leads with Olympians like Shalane Flanagan, Mo Farah, Lopez Lomong and Eliud Kipchoge (the first human to break a two-hour marathon record in October). The latter mixes a podcast-style interview with encouraging coaching from Bennett.
Bennett seems to have been born for the job of the friendliest running sensei in the world. The tone of his guided runs is perfectly calibrated so that you feel with a coach who gets that, which makes sense because Bennett has a solid resume. He was a captain of both high school (Christian Brothers Academy) and college (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). He coached teenagers who also faced issues at home (divorce, abuse) and through the ups and downs of high school (homework overload, young love). And he can run a four-minute mile! He joined Nike in 2014 as a head coach and launched the Nike Run Club series in the summer of 2017. Do people who run think running sucks? ‘ Bennett says. “More people don’t run because it’s really hard to start a race. And most people, when they start to run, run the wrong way. So all you have to do is find someone to run the wrong way. (Lest you think that means a certain technique or form, the “right” way, at least according to Bennett’s distance coaching, means running relaxed.) Bennett thought he might motivate more runners by running. “with them. Soon after, he recorded the first four batch episodes: First Run, Next Run, First Speed Run, and Comeback Run.
When Garmin Connect approached Amy Parkerson-Mitchell to become one of their three online trainers, she was skeptical at first. Runner for 30 years, physiotherapist for 20 years and coach for almost 10 years, with a style and point of view firmly anchored in the old school: face-to-face goal setting, evaluation and adjustments.
Suddenly, the Kansas City-based coach found herself answering questions from runners around the world. She wondered: How can I help someone reach a new level without ever meeting them in person? How can software tell me as much, if not more, than the athletes themselves?
“I really didn’t think it could be possible,” she says. “But he is.”
Although his athletes brought a wide range of ages, backgrounds and abilities to the table, they were united by a common goal: to become the fastest, fittest, and best version of themselves. . Garmin Connect training data from runners arrived and, bit by bit, trainer Amy became convinced that fitness tracking in the digital age, combined with traditional techniques, could increase its impact as a coach and the performance of his athletes.
At first, coach Amy admits the mountain of information can be overwhelming. “With smartwatches, not all data by itself is extremely useful,” she says. “But when you take the individual pieces and look at them as part of a bigger picture, it becomes powerful.”
Yes, it turns out that your Garmin can tell you a lot more than when you need to circle the block for that last mile. Here’s how Coach Amy uses data to inform her coaching and help runners reach their goals.
Put a face on the name
In addition to her role at Garmin Connect, trainer Amy continues to provide personal coaching through the Kansas City Roadrunners. While she remains firmly convinced that there is no substitute for in-person coaching, she uses modern tools to complement her proven approach. For example, she will often ask runners to film themselves running (or have a friend do it) and send the footage to her so that she can study their form, especially when they are tired.
“Interval training versus a long run is very different,” she says. “So I like to see them run on the road or on any surface that person is running on.”
Filming yourself this way can also be helpful, as long as you know what to look for when watching the tape. This is where your Garmin device comes in handy for more than just plotting the GPS map of your route.
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Building a base
Whether she’s working with an athlete in person or virtually, Coach Amy makes sure to pull together all of her runner’s data, and there’s a ton of it. Each run downloaded through Garmin Connect contains information about an athlete’s mileage, training pace, daily effort rate, and more. It paints a picture of their past and present, and ultimately allows their coach to chart their future.
Mix the direct and the virtual
An athlete’s running footage can help contextualize the piles of data they send to Coach Amy. But even if the runner is not physically present, the information is so informative that Coach Amy can begin to paint a remarkably detailed picture of this form, stride, efficiency, strengths and weaknesses. anybody.
“I can see that person’s cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact data, these are windows into a person’s gait and running efficiency,” she says. “You get a much bigger picture of what this runner is doing and what he can change.”
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That said, the form of running is usually not what Coach Amy is trying to change. His decades of experience have shown him that the risks of tinkering with the shape often outweigh the rewards.
“Only if I see something egregious that I think is going to cause a problem,” she said. “Or if I think there is an element of efficiency that needs to be considered in order for the athlete to achieve their goals.”
Charting a way forward
Once she analyzes the data for trends and opportunities, Coach Amy can hold her athletes accountable for their own improvement. She maintains constant email communication, listens to her athletes to make sure they understand her recommendations, and advises them on the best way forward. While every runner she coaches is different, coach Amy bases her training on a simple philosophy: her job is to forge long, healthy and happy running careers.
Physiotherapist and coach, she sees how destructive injuries can be on a daily basis. Data from his athletes may point to warning signs of overtraining.
“Thirty percent of runners will be injured to some extent over the course of a training season, and you’ll see athletes go from overwhelming joy with their successes to complete depression,” she says. “Avoiding that is the biggest challenge we face as coaches. “
Coach Amy minimizes risk by identifying the optimal training load for each of her runners. It’s optimal, not maximal.
“I’m a coach who thinks to myself, ‘Let’s be injury free and pain free and achieve our goals and have longevity in the sport,’ she said. “I want to see someone catch the virus and love them.”
Success in Coach Amy’s job is measured by certain parameters. The progression of an athlete is one of them. Another is word of mouth: runners who choose her as their Garmin Connect coach because of other happy customers.
There are general principles behind her philosophy, but Coach Amy knows the best approach is to treat everyone as an individual.
“Personalization of a program is essential,” she says. “I consider myself a bit of a chameleon when it comes to training. You might have someone who needs a little more gentleness, someone who needs a little more severity. I adapt to this personality.
In doing so, she takes a new-school approach to old-school science – slowly mastering the art of coaching in the digital age.
Catherine dennehy Contributing writer Cathal Dennehy is a freelance writer based in Dublin, Ireland who covers sports for multiple media, from Irish newspapers to international websites.
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