Health

A day in the life of a Commonwealth Games athlete

9th April 2018

What does it take to compete with the world’s best athletes at the commonwealth games? We take a look at a day in the life of some of Australia’s sports stars and find that the path to the podium is often as individual as the athletes themselves.


Many paths towards a shared dream

Our participating Australian Commonwealth Games athletes dream of winning. They’ve spent years training, and getting a medal for their performance is not just validation of their efforts but is also like getting a promotion at work.

The athletes surround themselves with experts and follow training and nutrition plans so they can perform to the best of their abilities in competition and in daily life.

Nutrition

Sprinter Alex Hartmann, who will compete in the Commonwealth Games this month, reveals the rigour of his daily nutrition on his YouTube channel.

Emily Smith, captain of the Hockeyroos, the Australian women's national field hockey team, tells Insuranceline about their current approach to nutrition. “At the moment, we're focusing on just mindful eating.” She says the team makes mindful decisions when eating and asks themselves “Are we doing it to reach our goals of winning a gold medal or are we going against that?”

The Hockeyroos pre-Commonwealth Games strategy is a departure from the rigid nutrition plan they followed in preparation for the Rio Olympics in 2016. “I still have three main meals plus I have meals around training to aid with recovery and healing properly from the session.”

Training also has an impact on planning the Hockeyroo’s nutrition. “If we've got a big training session the next morning, we have to fuel properly for that. So, the meal the night before will be quite large or contain more carbohydrates than normal.”

Both Hartmann and Smith emphasise the work involved. Smith explains that the best approach is “being super organised in regards to having the meals prepared and having all your shopping done. Because we're all time-poor. It's good preparation, then you eat well and it's not an issue.”

Training

The Hockeyroos train five days a week. “We train four major hockey sessions together a week, which are anywhere from two to three hours each,” says Smith. “Then we have individual sessions. So that's when we go on the pitch for about an hour and a half by ourselves and just work on what we want to work on. Obviously, the coaches are there but it's more athlete-driven. We also have two days in the gym a week.”

Hartmann describes his training routine in this video and what it takes to be a Commonwealth Games athlete.

Just as every Australian is unique, not every athlete trains the same way. Smith and Hartmann share a commitment to their professions, but have different training plans based on their chosen sport and circumstances. While they’ll both compete for Australia and share a common dream of podium finishes in their respective events, they’ll each have very different journeys to the Commonwealth Games.

Preventing injury

Injuries are inevitable, especially if you’re training as much as Commonwealth Games athletes do each week. As professionals though, they must still compete to the best of their abilities.There are many examples of athletes going on to compete, despite suffering serious injuries. Cyclist Anna Meares was back on the bike just 10 days after breaking her neck in a road cycling accident in 2008 and went on to win three Commonwealth Games medals in 2010. Her success in competition, and in her profession, came down to her approach to preventing and managing injuries.

Recovery

All athletes include recovery in their training plans.

The Hockeyroos have a structured recovery program which is overseen by a sports scientist. It includes massage, hydrotherapy and stretching. “It all helps to make sure that, when you wake up the next day, you can repeat over and over and over, because that's what you need to do to improve beyond the pitch,” says Smith. “If you're constantly getting injured, you're not going to improve because you're not getting the training load that's required.”

Expert support

Every professional athlete knows they’re not alone on their journey and rely on others to help them.

A team of experts support the Hockeyroos. “We've got a strength and conditioning coach who manages our recovery,” says Smith. She also explains that there is a psychologist to help with their mental preparation, and says “We've got a good support group around us that's constantly telling us the right thing we should be doing, and then it's always a choice. They say, 'Nothing here is compulsory, everything is a choice you're making because you want to play for Australia and you want to be successful when you play.' It's all athlete-driven in the long run.”

Recovering from injury and returning to work, whether that’s competing in Commonwealth Games or working in another professional environment like an office or a school, depends on having a plan in place and knowing how to get the best support. Income Protection insurance can help anyone who is unable to work due to illness or injury, and helps support you on the road to recovery so you can return to pre-injury life as soon as possible.

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