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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why did Myra take up mountain bike racing?

Wayne asks the following:
I was looking at Myra's CV, it was interesting to note that she was a high achiever in running, given the discussion that went on about the drop in numbers of runners, I wonder if a blog should be done about how Myra made a choice on to favour cycling over running., I"m sure that athletics is losing big numbers to other sports, obviously mountain biking was never a competing sport against running, there are so many other sports around now that never used to be around. what was it that Myra was looking for in a sport that mountain biking had that running didn't?

Gary Moller comments:
While I can't speak for Myra, I can offer a parent's viewpoint.
Yes, Myra was a talented runner and, like her brother and sister, were regular place-getters in junior athletics. This was with little in the way of hard training. I concentrated on giving the kids the skills to do a sport well and refrained from any hint of heavy duty training. The number one priority was to instil a love of physical activity - not to put them off for life as so often happens!

This development of skills included the use of professional coaches. However, the moment a coach started to get serious and begin asking the kids to start doing, say, early morning training sessions, I would ask them if they would like to do another sport. Their response was always highly approving. So, despite being proficient runners and swimmers at a young age, I switched them back and forth between various sports, including spring board diving, biking and soccer, to name some.

In addition to the development of a skills base at an early age and a love of sport, I also worked on the basis that a young person will gravitate to the activity that most suits them - so long as they are given a sufficiently rich sporting experience as youngsters. This is what happened.

In Myra's case, she showed a talent for riding bikes and, despite my competitive background as a cyclist, she was soon making me struggle to keep up when climbing steep Wellington hills. Myra is simply doing what she loves and what she is very good at.

I would add that this approach that I have taken with my children is in stark contrast to so called "talent identification" programmes that are getting much attention nowadays. Personally, I am sceptical about their suitability for the NZ temperament. Children will only stick at a sport if they love it. Otherwise, they will give it away first chance they get.
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