More than 100 athletes working towards the Olympic, Winter Olympic and Commonwealth Games have shared their experiences and learnings from lockdown in an Athlete Forum.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission put together the online forum, as the group works to get a gauge on athlete well-being following lockdown, and understand athletes needs as the country moves to alert level two.
Commission Chair Sarah Cowley-Ross says the session was extremely valuable, with athletes from a wide range of sporting disciplines able to connect and share their lockdown experiences.
“We were really pleased with the engagement during the forum and it’s given us some really interesting insights which we’ll be using to advocate on behalf of athletes,” said Cowley-Ross.
“For example, we found that while most athletes are feeling confident about their journey towards upcoming pinnacle Games there are some that are nervous to resume normal training after being in lockdown.”
The forum also heard that athletes varied in how they coped with the lockdown.
“We heard that some athletes thrived in lockdown whereas others found it really tough,” said New Zealand Team Lead Psychologist Dr. Kylie Wilson.
“That’s not at all surprising and it’s a very normal response. As we move to level two we’re encouraging athletes to focus on what they can control and be open and flexible so that they can adapt to a fast moving situation.
“The world around us is completely disrupted but we are lucky here in New Zealand to be given a real opportunity, it’s now up to us how we respond to this challenge.”
Olympic silver medallist and Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini spoke during the forum and urged athletes who have struggled with lockdown to be open about how they’re feeling as they move back to their high-performance setups.
“Start those conversations now and connect with your team to create a positive forum where you can be honest about how you’ve coped,” said Hirini
“If you’ve been struggling and you’ve been open about that fact then you’ll have people around who can support you and understand those feelings.”
New Zealand Team health team leader Dr Bruce Hamilton advised athletes to remain vigilant as the country moves to level two.
“It’s extremely important athletes follow the basic health and well-being guidelines as they return to normal training,” said Hamilton.
“Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitizer regularly, especially after being in communal areas.
“Also take a gradual approach to re-starting training, don’t try to make up for lost time all at once as this can lead to injury or illness.”
The session was the first Athlete Forum run by the NZOC Athletes’ Commission, with the body planning to run additional forums as athletes continue to be affected by Covid-19. The series will form part of of the commission's athlete advocacy programme.