Aussie Olympians chase psychological edge

SCRIPT:

Australia’s Olympic hopefuls – their bodies in peak condition from hours of training. But as they leap into their last round of preparation for the London Games, attention is turning to their mental and emotional endurance.

The Australian team will have access to a recovery centre that not only soothes sore muscles, but, for the first time, has a psychologist on hand to calm the nerves.

SOUNDBITE 1 Dr Shona Halson (woman), Head of the Australian Institute of Sport Recovery Centre, (English, 12 sec):
“We think that the clinical psychologist will be really important, so it’s just an extra person there that they can bounce ideas off, that they can have some additional support from.”

The first sports psychology labs were set up in Germany in the early 1920’s.

The concept slowly gained popularity in the general sports arena, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s that sports psychologists started assisting Olympic teams.

Chasing the Olympic dream can come at a high price. For some athletes, it’s a once in a lifetime shot – a moment when their physical ability is at its peak.

Paul Penna, who has accompanied Australia's athletes to two Olympics and three Commonwealth Games, thinks counseling should be part of any elite athlete’s preparation.

SOUNDBITE 2 Paul Penna (man), sports psychologist, (English, 15 sec):
“We don’t want to wait for athletes to fall over, we don’t wait til we have a bad day to say hang on, we’ve got this crisis team for you. We’ve actually got to go, we need to support the athlete to be good. A lot of our work is about performance enhancement, rather than waiting for that day when everything falls apart.”

That day might come for an athlete who misses out on selection, and has to deal with rejection in order to come back fitter and stronger.

This was the experience of Australian 400 metre hurdler, Brendan Cole, who previously missed out on a squad call-up.

Now, as he heads to London, daily meditation - that he taught himself off the track - helps him handle stress in the leadup to, and during, competition.

SOUNDBITE 3 Brendan Cole (man), 400-metre hurdler, (English, 16 sec):
“Your mind can play tricks on you, and there’s a lot of pressure. And I think dealing with that pressure is something that you need to practice. It’s not necessarily being crazy or not crazy. It’s just another part of your training really, it’s another skill that you need to learn.”

A skill that will keep help athletes stay healthy, in body and mind.


SHOTLIST:

SYDNEY, APRIL 29, 2012, SOURCE: AFPTV
- Various of Australian men's and women's water polo Olympic hopefuls during a finals selection session in Sydney

CANBERRA, MAY 9, 2012, SOURCE: AFPTV
- 400 metre hurdler, Brendan Cole, relaxing in a spa at the Australian Institute of Sport Recovery Centre
- Australian Institute of Sport Recovery Centre signage

SOUNDBITE 1 Dr Shona Halson (woman), Head of the Australian Institute of Sport Recovery Centre, (English, 12 sec):
“We think that the clinical psychologist will be really important, so it’s just an extra person there that they can bounce ideas off, that they can have some additional support from.”

- Various of a man using a virtual cycling program at the Australian Institute of Sport

LONDON, FEBRUARY 28, 2012, SOURCE: AFPTV
- Various giant Olympic rings floating on a barge past the HMS Belfast war ship, Tower Bridge in background, water jets cascading behind

LONDON, NOVEMBER 23, 2011, SOURCE: AFPTV
- Various of handball players
- Various of boxing training

SYDNEY, JUNE 30, 2012, SOURCE: AFPTV
- Signage at the Sydney Sports Medicine Centre where Paul Penna works
- Various establishing shots of sports psychologist, Paul Penna, walking beside an Olympic-sized pool

SOUNDBITE 2 Paul Penna (man), sports psychologist, (English, 15 sec):
“We don’t want to wait for athletes to fall over, we don’t wait til we have a bad day to say hang on, we’ve got this crisis team for you. We’ve actually got to go, we need to support the athlete to be good. A lot of our work is about performance enhancement, rather than waiting for that day when everything falls apart.”

LONDON, FEBRUARY 22, 2011, SOURCE: AFPTV
- Various of British cyclists training on the London Olympic track for the first time

OSAKA, JAPAN, MAY, 2010, (exact date unknown), SOURCE:HANDOUT - NO RESALE FOR NON-EDITORIAL PURPOSES
- Various of 400m hurdler Brendan Cole in competition

CANBERRA, MAY 9, 2012, SOURCE: AFPTV
- Various of 400 metre hurdler, Brendan Cole, relaxing in a spa at the Australian Institute of Sport Recovery Centre

SOUNDBITE 3 Brendan Cole (man), 400-metre hurdler, (English, 16 sec):
“Your mind can play tricks on you, and there’s a lot of pressure. And I think dealing with that pressure is something that you need to practice. It’s not necessarily being crazy or not crazy. It’s just another part of your training really, it’s another skill that you need to learn.”

SYDNEY, APRIL 29, 2012, SOURCE: AFPTV
- Various of Australian women's water polo Olympic hopefuls during a finals selection session in Sydney

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