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Athlete Blog - Staying Supported, Staying Strong

Published on 13th of May, 2020

Whilst IAS athletes may not physically be together, they are staying supported and connected to get through these unknown times as a team. 

Athlete blog by Maizy Evans (IAS Cycling Squad)

 

Staying motivated as a teenager is always hard. Many opportunities and situations arise that make us reconsider our sporting commitments. My social life has always been an issue when staying committed to training and racing as a Cyclist. It is a full time commitment and we have to sacrifice a lot due to events and time spent training. A lot of people have asked me why I do it… Why I get up so early to train 6 days a week and why I have given up so much of my social life to ‘ride bikes’ – recently I have come to realise that my social life is my sport life. So many of my closest friends and my family are also part of the Cycling community and if I gave up it up I think I would be giving up a huge part of myself and of my life. I think a lot of young athletes, especially those who are a part of the Illawarra Academy of Sport will agree with what I have said.  

I honestly feel that the IAS is a major part of my life and we have all been so supported by our coaches and the other athletes we are surrounded with. During the times of COVID-19 the most important thing as an athlete is support and I am so grateful to be apart of such a strong and compassionate Academy.  

Times are crazy at the moment and I don’t think any of us expected to be living through a pandemic like this! - But I also know that myself, my family and many of the other IAS athletes are extremely lucky to have the support network that we do from the coaches, staff and our teammates. The Illawarra Academy of Sport have provided us with a set of Sports Psych Webinars, specifically built around COVID-19, presented by David from Condor Performance. These webinars have talked about many things including motivation, emotions, focus and thoughts and have given us the opportunity to ask further questions on anything we may be struggling with regarding Sports Psychology and mental health during these difficult times.  

As revealed via the Academy’s social platforms, the 2020 captains have recently been announced and the Academy have offered the captains to take further leadership roles during this difficult time and for the future. The captains have been having regular meetings via zoom where they discuss ideas around the challenges and ways to help out the IAS athletes via online platforms. The Illawarra Academy Of Sport have also set up regular zoom meetings across all the sports to keep in touch and talk about any issues they may be having, as coaches or as athletes and talk further about any ideas of how to better support the IAS athletes.  

The IAS Physical Performance Coach, Mitch has been working hard to help keep us fit and happy in this ‘No Gym’ situation! Mitch came up with this awesome program for all the athletes that only requires a chair and minimal equipment, it can literally be done in your bedroom, still benefiting us and keeping us motivated. I am very lucky to have a fully functional home gym with various machines and equipment which means I can complete my regular Strength and Conditioning program – also provided by Mitch – which previously to be done at the Moss Vale Aquatic Centre Gym, another opportunity the IAS have provided us with!  

As a cyclist, there are many positive ways of looking at the COVID-19 situation. Ultimately, it is prime time for training out on the roads with minimal traffic and also has given cyclists more time to look into online training platforms such as Zwift, which I am loving! It is disappointing to see the Mountain bike season go to waste this year but Cycling NSW has recently released the hope for the road season to begin in August – which is what I am currently working towards. With the season pushed back, it has opened many doors for further strength training and skills practice.  

Unfortunately, at the end of last year I suffered a huge setback which dropped my confidence greatly. Whilst representing my school at a soccer match - I broke my ankle, tore various ligaments and suffered extreme soft tissue damage in my lower foot. I was in a moon boot for nine weeks and once I got out I made a stupid decision to play another game of football (whilst still healing) and re-broke my ankle as well as suffering some further soft tissue damage, leaving me in a boot for a further four weeks and off the bike until March this year. My final Nationals as an U17 rider was on 14 March 2020, leaving me with only two weeks to train - one of those where I was still recovering. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of motivation and decided the week of the race not to compete. I still travelled to Victoria to support my friends and family at the biggest race of the year. The day before the event I ended up getting massive FOMO and completed a late entry. I raced as hard as I could and managed to end up in the sprint finish for the bronze medal, where I fell short and rode home in 4th - still one of my biggest achievements. Ultimately what got me through this race was the support network I had, my friends around me, my family and most of all the IAS.  

During my recovery the IAS supported me majorly with Physio and in many other ways. I was offered a Tier Two scholarship with one of the Academy’s partners - BaiMed Performance who helped me through my healing stage. This time in isolation has given me a chance to heal physically and emotionally and I have gained a lot of confidence because of the Illawarra Academy Of Sport, especially my coaches – who did everything they could to get me back on the bike as soon as physically possible.  

The past two years in the Academy has taught me many things about sport and about life in general. I have grown as a cyclist, as a citizen and as a person and I would not be who I am today without their support. COVID-19 has changed the way we view the world and has proven to the IAS athletes how lucky they are to be apart of such a wonderful Academy who have supported and continue to support us each and every day in any way we need. With recent media articles released regarding Australia’s road to recovery, I know that soon enough I will be back with my IAS family and be able to ride around in circles at the velodrome with more than one person! Until then, I will continue to stay positive as should you!