Working at the Olympics
As the quote above from double Olympic gold medalist Danyon Loader indicates, the Olympics are challenging (e.g., only 30% of swimmers post a personal best time); a special type of mental toughness is required to succeed at the Olympics. For most athletes, the four-year Olympic cycle generates a level of importance that defines this sporting festival as their career-culminating event (McCann, 2008). As Haberl and Peterson (2006) concluded, the Olympic “crucible creates unique pressures for everyone involved: athletes, coaches, and support staff.” (p. 29)
The Olympic context is different and unique, but the basic models of sport psychology consulting, your consulting philosophy, and your ethics remain constant (Andersen, Van Raalte, & Brewer, 2001; Bond, 2001). The Olympic Games are an atypical and unusual sporting experience for most athletes and an alien competition context for some (Greenleaf, Gould, & Dieffenbach, 2001; Pensgaard, 2008). Most elite athletes quickly become familiar with the annual schedule of international events in their own sports (e.g., FINA swimming world cup series; skiing FIS World Cup race circuit) and adjust to the mental demands of such regular elite competitions within their sporting disciplines. The Olympics, on the other hand, only occur every four years, and the Games are a multisport event as opposed to a single sport event.