Twin peaks: pressures of qualification
In 2008 Michael Phelps was on his way to the trials for the 2008 US Olympic swimming team when he saw an advertisement for the US Athletics team trials. It read “Toughest team to qualify for”. Phelps completely disagreed. Three athletes get to go to the Games for each event in athletics; only two get to go for swimming.
In one of the world’s strongest Swimming nations, just to qualify for the team you often need to be fast enough to win a medal in the Olympic final.
This means that competing in the Olympics can often be like scaling two great mountains. And if you don’t conquer the first one, you don’t even get to try the second.
The bad news is that for athletes preparing for the games, they have to be as mentally ready for the trials as they are for the Olympics.
The good news is that if you manage to cope with the traumatic experience of qualification, you are in great physical and mental shape to take on the Olympic Games.