Never has psychology in sport been more evident than the last two weeks as many people watched the 2010 Olympic Games. Beginning with all the hype and controversy around Lindsey Vonn (Gold – downhill skiing) and Julia Mancuso (Silver – downhill skiing) to watching veritable unknowns such as Hannah Kearney (Gold – freestyle- mogel skiing) and Katherine Reutter (Silver – short track speedskating), we were entertained by all the twists and turns of sport. On the medal stand with Lindsey and Julia you could cut the tension with a knife. Julia did reach out to hug Linsey in what appeared as an unwelcome gesture. Both Hannah and Katherine seemed genuinely thrilled with their accomplishments. The strength of their sport was clearly dominated by each individual’s state of mind and psychological strategies.
In 2008, Katherine Reutter started using the individual services of a sports psychologist to help her deal with anxiety and the pressures involved with top competition. Although the governing board of each sport has their own sports psychologist, the individual athletes may not always have easy access to their individual services. At the Olympics, all the athletes win or lose by a split second or the length length of a fingernail. The mental state often makes or breaks the performance. However, the most notable psychological and technical performance by a 2010 female Winter Olympian was Joannie Rochette. On February 20, her mother arrives in Vancouver to watch her daughter. The same day, her mother drops dead of a heart attack. Despite this tragic circumstance, Joannie goes on to win the Bronze medal in individual figure skating. This was a demonstration of strength, courage, and the Olympic spirit.
Each and everyone of these amazing female Olympians demonstrated all their talent and training to reach this pinnacle in their career. They each represented the desires and wishes in all of us competitive female athletes: to take who we are and strive to develop all our potential no matter what the outcome. Only through reaching for the stars and giving it our all do we experience the true Spirit of the Olympic Games.