Historically weak record: many Olympians “mentally not fully there”

Historically weak record
Many Olympians “mentally not fully there”

The German Olympic team comes back from Tokyo with a historically poor medal yield. The search for reasons for the disappointing result has also reached the athletes’ psyche. Many did not feel fully up to date at the peak of the season.

According to a study, the insufficient mental presence of German athletes at the Olympic Games and Paralympics in Tokyo was apparently a major factor in the disappointing performance. Almost a third of the top athletes in the Olympic and Paralympics squads were mentally not fully present at the peak of the season. This is the result of a study by the German Sport University in Cologne on behalf of Deutsche Sporthilfe. Even 24 percent of the German finalists in Tokyo stated that they were “mentally not fully there” in the medal contest.

In the study, led by sports economist Christoph Breuer, 1122 athletes sponsored by Sporthilfe took part in an online survey in September and October. The results show how the athletes perceive the conditions of their personal environment, the training environment and the social environment and how these affect their mental presence and their athletic success.

“We all see that the successes at the Olympic Games have been declining since 1992 and that a course in German sport is necessary,” said Sporthilfe CEO Thomas Berlemann. “That’s why you have to ask the athletes about their wishes and concerns in order to achieve the turnaround.” The medal haul of the German team in Tokyo was worse than ever.

The environmental influences also include the financial situation of the athletes, of whom around 35 percent indicated, according to the study, that their income (did not) enable them to concentrate sufficiently on the sport; among the Olympic and Paralympics finalists it is still more than 21 percent. In contrast, more than three quarters of top athletes consider the quality of training facilities and equipment as well as health offers to be good.

The athletes are very satisfied with the trainers in terms of accessibility (87 percent). They are less satisfied with their expertise (72 percent) and management style (67 percent). The athletes also complain about deficits in training planning, control and organization as well as mental presence. According to the study, media training, satisfaction with the expertise of the trainers, sports science advice and a training plan based on performance diagnostics all contribute to a better mental presence at the peak of the season.

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