With the 2021 (2020?) Summer Olympics officially underway, many are wondering what the experience feels like from the perspective of a competitor. We at Captyn decided to sit down with three Olympians to hear about their tales from the world’s stage.
Our interviews were with Olympians Karen Vilorio Muchnik (competed as a swimmer for Honduras), Michael Bingham (medal winning track athlete for Great Britain) and Paul Sehzue (two event track athlete for Liberia).
Which Olympics did you compete in and in what event(s)?
“London 2012, 100 Backstroke.”
“I had the privilege of competing in the [2008 Beijing] 4x400m relay for GB & NI.” *Michael received bronze for his relay finishing 3rd.
“2000 Olympics, Sydney…4x100m Relay and 110m High Hurdles.” *Paul advanced in the 110m High Hurdles.
What’s a funny story or interesting anecdote from your Olympic experience?
“Getting lost in the [Olympic] Village every day because all the buildings look the same and it’s pretty big.”
“I have a weird superstition of watching others compete. Even while I was an athlete, I’ve always shied away from even talking about sports until the offseason. I really just wanted to show up, compete and go home. It may sound like I hated the sport, but I loved competing and I found that if I watched or talked about it then I would send myself on endless spirals of thought and a never-ending rabbit’s hole of scenarios. Needless to say, most athletes are not like this. So, in 2008, I spent much of my Olympics experience dodging television coverage of the games and sidebar conversations.”
“I had a few moments of solitude while staying in Olympic Village. I had one such moment one night while the remainder of the team went to dinner. It was a very hard workout that day, I wanted to consume the snacks in my room and go to bed. I did not follow the team out the door and enjoyed the afternoon in my room and looked at the stadium in the distance through the eucalyptus trees.
Within 20 minutes of peering out of my bedroom window, a koala climbed up the previously mentioned trees, probably looking for precious leaves. It was eye level and looked so cute and cuddly. I figured from my limited knowledge of the animal and what I had observed on United States television that koalas loved to be held and petted.
I lowered my window to pet/pick up the koala and almost suffered a gruesome injury. The koala growled, hissed, then lunged at me with its HUMONGOUS claws. I dodged the attack, but the swipe made me lose my balance and I fell to the ground inside my room. The window was still open. The intelligent koala realized this and attempted to finish the job on its intruder and enter my bedroom while growling and hissing. I was fortunate to get back and close the window before the koala entered my room. With the window closed, the koala (my nickname for him—‘Killer’) still attempted to swipe at my face, scratching the window. After about 20 seconds, the koala left, never to be seen again.
The attempted koala attack is a vivid memory that I carry with me 21 years later.”
Were you starstruck by anyone there?
“[I] was starstruck by the Queen when she came to the Village! Also, when I saw all the famous tennis players.”
“The Olympic village is a different place and I think all athletes have an equal amount of respect for one another once you’re there. I’m not sure that I was starstruck by any athletes that came to the games, but I can remember seeing how humble a great such as Ronaldinho was when around. It made real the fact that many of the world’s elite athletes are really just normal people that happen to be extremely talented and dedicated to a dream. When not competing, they like to do everything that we like to do—laugh, be silly, make mistakes, or go shopping or go out to dinner with family and friends.”
“I was not intimidated by any athlete or coach. I did feel like I belonged there. The time to be starstruck was the year before for the World Championships in Seville, Spain. It was awesome to see the best athletes from the other sports there.”
What’s a favorite workout for you?
“[My] favorite workout [is] a couple sprint sets before racing.”
“When I’m getting ready for an event I love to do something that is a little challenging but short. Personally, I love anything from 120-200m before a 400m race. What I love about the distance is that it allows you the flexibility to be as aerobic (short rest or walking rest) or as anaerobic as you want. But the distances are also short enough to keep form. Sometimes, as a sprinter, when distances get too long we “get lazy” and start “plopping” along. Which is fine for a mile run but poor form for sprinting. Saying that, a 6x120m at 85% or 3x200m close to race pace tended to be good indicators on what type of form I’m in.”
“Hurdle mobility drill:
- WALK OVER TOP OF HURDLE WITH RIGHT LEAD LEG
- WALK OVER TOP OF HURDLE WITH LEFT LEAD LEG
- WALK OVER EVERY HURDLE ALTERNATE LEGS
- LATERAL HIGH KNEE OVER CENTRE OF HURDLE WITH RIGHT LEAD LEG
- LATERAL HIGH KNEE OVER CENTRE OF HURDLE WITH LEFT LEAD LEG
- WALK OVER TOP OF HURDLE BACK ONE WITH RIGHT LEAD LEG
- WALK OVER TOP OF HURDLE BACK ONE WITH LEFT LEAD LEG
- SKIP OVER SIDE OF HURDLE WITH RIGHT LEAD LEG
- SKIP OVER SIDE OF HURDLE WITH LEFT LEAD LEG
- CAN-CAN OVER SIDE OF HURDLE RIGHT SIDE OF HURDLES
- CAN-CAN OVER SIDE OF HURDLE LEFT SIDE OF HURDLES
- OVER/UNDERS OVER 1 HURDLE UNDER NEXT HURDLE
And 200m speed tempo x6, 2 or 3 days before competition day. Sometimes I would incorporate hurdles off of the turn for coordination [and] fatigued hurdling purposes.”
You can catch the Olympic Games in Tokyo from now through August 8th, 2021.