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While the Tokyo Games will be different in many ways, one thing that will remain the same is the additional commitments that athletes will have to fulfil before they are fully able to focus on competition.

Whether that’s attending ceremonies, conducting media interviews or fulfilling sponsor obligations, there are simply more potential distractions than many athletes would have dealt with before.

So how do you ensure that, once your event day arrives, your focus hasn’t been affected, and you can produce your best? The BAC’s Athlete Engagement Manager, Kristian Thomas, shares his insight.

“My first Olympic Games was in London, so it came with the added excitement, but also pressure of being a home Games.

“We won bronze in the team competition on the fourth day of the Games, and I remember having hours of interviews afterwards, which went on well past midnight. Engaging with media and fans is a really important element of celebrating your success, however I still had more finals to compete in over the next few days, so recovery was crucial for me.

“I learnt a lot from that experience, in terms of how to prepare for the potential increase in media requests. I’d advise any athlete to speak to their press officer and team leader beforehand, to make sure that the following day’s training or competition isn’t going to be affected by the sheer volume of interviews.

“It’s also good to have a rough idea of the number of interview requests that you might receive before or after a day of competition, and factor in as early as possible the level of mental fatigue that this may cause, so you’re completely prepared.

“I’d also advise athletes to not be shy of asking whether any of the requests can be moved to another time. You know your own physical and psychological condition better than anyone else, and if you believe that something is going to have a detrimental effect, it is better to at least raise that point, rather than leave something unsaid and regret it afterwards.

“I remember wanting to be a sponge when I first arrived at the Olympic village in London; wanting to be out and about, when actually what I needed was the opposite and go about my day the way I normally would prior to competing.

“Four years later, in Rio, I knew I would have time to explore after competing, or on days where training schedules were reduced, so made sure all my focus was on following my usual preparation routine.

“In Tokyo, there will be added restrictions on movement due to COVID, so it will be worthwhile having a think how you might be able to fill additional time in your accommodation when resting in between training and competing.

“For many of our athletes, Tokyo will be a first Games, and as well as being completely new, all the extra bits that go with being an Olympian or Paralympian may be exciting, overwhelming or even a bit daunting.

“To them, I would advise trying to plan for all scenarios, and talking through those plans with your team leader and coaches. This will help you to feel prepared should any additional commitments occur during the games.”

The BAC is on-hand to provide independent support throughout Tokyo and beyond. Athletes can email support@britishathletes.org or tokyo@britishathletes.org

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