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Monday, May 30, 2011

Epic Edinburgh and onto ACSM

Epic Edinburgh and onto ACSM:  Your suggestions...

I'm writing this from a train somewhere in the North east of England on my way down to London, having experienced a sensational week in Edinburgh.  It was mission accomplished as far as the first leg of my trip is concerned, though I'd be lying if I said it was business as usual - the mission had a great big "Impossible" stamped on it more than a few times, but our players did it and beat Australia to complete back-to-back wins in London and Edinburgh.

It took the most astonishing three minutes to achieve - an entire team entering the "zone" at the same time, to win a final against Australia where we were down 21- 7 at half-time, 28-7 shortly after half-time, and 35-19 with under three minutes remaining. 

What the scoreboard captures, a 36-35 win, tells nothing of the courage and heart it took for our players to stand up to an exceptional team, a huge challenge and what seemed a lost situation more than once.  We had only six healthy players, three players out completely, and three who should have been out had we been in the luxury position of giving them the rest they needed.  But they had to play through injuries,  and that kind of effort was possible only because the players understood that to transcend their limits, they had to have the higher purpose of carrying one another, playing for someone or something else.

I'd be lying if I said I knew we'd win it all along.  But it's not even a stretch if I tell you that in the changeroom minutes before the final, the team talk from two of the senior players on the team gave me the sense that anything was possible, that nine months of work had earned the players the privilege of seeing that higher purpose, the "WHY" behind the pain and hard work, and that is what ultimately allowed those final 4 minutes to happen.  Last week in London, it was all about the head - the tactical plan and the intelligence of the players to deliver.  This week, it was the heart, and one of the great performances. 

Later this week, I'm going to find (or make) a video of the final 4 minutes of the match, and put it here at some point in the next day or so.  I think for the sport of Sevens, and for Sevens in South Africa, those four minutes will be the most effective advertisements they will ever see.  I'll try to get that out as soon as possible, and hopefully it will survive on YouTube long enough to allow you to appreciate just how spectacular Sevens is as a sport.

Onto ACSM - looking ahead

But right now, my attention switches to the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Denver.  It starts on Tuesday, and I present at a highlighted symposium called "Pacing Strategy:  A window into the experience of fatigue".  That happens next Friday at 1pm, and features our friends Carl Foster and Jos de Koning, along with Markus Amann and Romain Meeusen.

There is a strong focus on health and physical activity this year - the two big keynote lectures deal with diabetes, obesity and health policy.  I have an eight-hour flight from London to work through the programme, and I'll pick out the session that I'll be attending, but I'd love to hear from you about talks that grab your attention.

So check out the Advance Programme here, and if you see anything that sounds especially interesting, let me know - obviously, I can't be in 15 places at once, which is always a problem at these big meetings, but I'll do my best to get along and hear what the experts have to say in order to get some feedback to you! 

Until Denver (or that Sevens video)