Army special operations soldiers help 2020 Olympians prepare for Tokyo
Australian athletes who win gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games might attribute part of their success to training with Holsworthy-based commandos.
More than 100 Australian athletes, their coaches and Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) support staff have been put through their paces over the past few months at Holsworthy as part of the Gold Medal Ready program.
AIS Director, Peter Conde, said one of the take-aways from the Rio Olympics in 2016 was a failure of many athletes to perform at their best, perhaps due to the pressure of the Olympics.
"That was probably the number one issue raised in the debrief after the Rio Olympics and the Gold Medal Ready program is our response to that," he said.
"One of the things we've found is the Army and particularly Special Operations Command has some well-developed approaches to performing under pressure and it's really about transferring that knowledge to our top athletes."
The AIS originally worked with Special Operations Command during the sailing program in the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics.
"Swimming has also had some involvement with Special Operations Command, so it's really grown out of that and has become part of a broader memorandum of understanding and cooperation we have with Army," Mr Conde said.
Officer Commanding of Training Wing at Special Operations Training and Education Centre (SOTEC), Major 'G', said the unit tried to replicate scenarios that enabled the athletes to test their cognitive agility under physical and mental loads.
"We started off with some physically arduous activities in the morning on both land and marine environments," he said.
"In the afternoon we really scaled that back to some more cognitively challenging activities.
"Every team was paired with a gold medal winning alumnus organised by the AIS.
"We also paired them with a commando who has been in the unit for a long period and is operationally experienced. They imparted their knowledge into the team with the gold medallist so they could have the best chance of success."
Major G said it was satisfying for Army to help Australia's Olympic team win gold at the 2020 Olympics.
"We're patriots. We wear the Australian flag on our uniform every day so we would feel nothing more than absolutely proud to see the Olympic team go to Japan and dominate," he said.
SOTEC and the AIS will continue to conduct the training throughout 2019 and leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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