Emirates Team New Zealand’s fitness trainer David Slyfield had a pretty good Olympic Games.
His medal count – four. Two gold and two silver. And he didn’t even go to London.
He splits his time between a performance planner with High Performance Sport New Zealand and Emirates Team New Zealand’s fitness trainer. Follow this link to video.
Leading up to the London Games, David worked with women’s 470 gold medallists Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie, 49er silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, and women’s K1 kayak 200m gold Lisa Carrington and BMX silver medallist Sarah Walker.
He says: “Olympic champions win 90% of their medal before they even step into the village by combining an incredible work ethic with absolute thoroughness in their preparation. The formula for success is talent and preparation. All top competitors are talented (it’s the price of entry) so preparation becomes the determining variable.”
“I have been involved in far more sporting campaigns that have failed than have succeeded. I was frustrated because I could see this or that wasn’t right and the athlete had little hope of success no mater how strong or fast I helped make them.
“I was confident I could help the athlete and coach find out what might cost them a medal before they had even begun. Even though I am a hopeless athlete myself I believe I know what it takes to win in sport – not the cliché stuff like ‘you’ve just got to want it more’, but the real stuff that makes a difference. “
He interviewed every New Zealand gold medal winner since 1988 because he wanted to know what equestrian Blyth Tait had in common with swimmer Danyon Loader.
“I had worked as a physical trainer with four Olympic Gold medalists in four different sports. It’s not unusual for people to work with multiple medalists but they are most often all in the same sport, meaning they have a great depth of knowledge but perhaps less breadth of experience.
“I had been exposed to some rare professional sporting situations. I’d sat in the locker rooms of Wimbledon and the French Open and watched the likes of Pete Sampras, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg prepare before they headed out on to centre court.
“In the 2007 Americas Cup campaign I crewed on the boats on 85% of the sailing days, including all of our in-house racing and pre-event races In spite of being the worst sailor in the team I’d often be on the “A boat” replacing Grant Dalton. If you’re the trainer with the All Blacks they don’t let you play half back in the mid week games.”
In his Olympic role David rarely sets foot in the gym. He works mainly with the coaches and the athlete on the process of winning.