Toledo Olympian weighs in on mental pressures from Olympics


TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – As Olympic pressure continues for our athletes at home and abroad, a former gold medalist from Toledo shares his journey on the sacrifice and mental toughness it takes to rise to the challenge. occasion, again and again.

2x Olympian high jumper Erik Kynard says that in dangerous sports like high jump and gymnastics, your sanity is the most important thing you have to keep yourself from getting injured.

For Kynard, meditation, prayer, and working with sports psychologists since the start of his career have helped him keep his mental toughness between the ups and downs.

He says Biles handled the Olympics “perfectly” and lends his support, expressing that everyone is going to have something to say, but ultimately the athlete is the only one who really knows his body and what is right for him.

Kynard ruptured his Achilles tendon, traditionally known as the kiss of death for an athlete, during a national competition in 2018 and had to fight his way to recovery, wishing for a national championship in 2020 .

“So even though you’re an athlete, mentally, Simone Biles is still Simone, she could probably still gold medal and put in a performance, but because she’s not at a place where she competes at a level of. her own expectations because of her mental state, or a mental state, I went there, I had to withdraw from competition after the Olympic Trials, “Kynard shares,” so it’s a new space, a new space mentally, physically, emotionally, so sometimes that’s the best.

Kynard shares that there is additional pressure that athletes put on themselves as they get older, with a much higher set of expectations and awareness, but says the key is to understand that the athlete is in. ultimately the one in control, not the fans.

“In the high jump you continually fail, no matter how high you jump, you make 3 attempts and you miss and you are done, so I think one thing that people miss the mark on in concentration and Preparation is success is how to succeed through failure when you have to be failure, ”Kynard says.

In addition to the already high stakes, Kynard says closing the pandemic has been extremely difficult for athletes, with gyms and infrastructure closed, he flew from his home in George to train in Ohio at a garage. away to try and gain some rhythm and routine this time around. Between the shutdown and the lack of an audience in the arena, he says this year’s Olympians face even more overwhelming variables than ever before. In dangerous sports like high jump and gymnastics, you have to be on your game mentally to avoid injury.

“You have to be mentally connected, there can be no disconnection between concentration, because when you are competing at such a high level you go on autopilot, there is no attempt to do anything, you go out and do it, or it’s not going to be done, ”Kynard says.

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Naomi C. Amerson