Just how hard is the road to Rio?

Just how hard is the road to Rio?

Next time you’re wincing in a spin class or pleading with your VPT to put away the battle ropes, read this. The true story of what it takes to become an Olympic athlete, by Tom Daley’s coaches - Jane Figeiredo & Brittney Ducroz. Then re-read it every time you need the inspiration to push yourself that little bit further. Now you know how far Tom must go to try and win gold.

You have been working with Tom since 2014, what have been your specific strategy in regard to the Olympic games?

JF: To get him in the best physical shape possible, so that he can move quicker when he’s spinning, and go in the water with no splash! To do more repetitions of quality, rather than quantity. Make specific changes to his technique on certain dives, such as straighter legs, smaller shape and different arm positions. Details in everything - increase flexibility and better strength and conditioning, so he can remain injury-free.

Can you give us an insight into a weekly training plan leading up to Rio?

Tom trains six days a week for approx 5-6 hrs a day, depending on the day of week He lifts weights x 5 day along with cardio 2-3 days a week, ballet x1 day a week, med ball plus dry land and jump rope. We try to mix it up so his training stays challenging and fun, because it can become very boring.

Diving requires strength, flexibility, kinaesthetic judgment and air awareness, how do you focus to improve each area?

JF: Well, we have employed an awesome strength coach who I worked with in the USA, and she has really brought a whole new level to Tom’s weights and strength. We train five days a week now instead of the usual 3-4 days. We changed to five days because it was becoming too long, and he became very tired before practice, so now the weights are shorter and he can complete his diving practice properly. With flexibility, we have implemented different movements into his weights workout to keep his range where it needs to be. Tom has great spatial awareness, so that's something we haven't needed to focus on.

BD: Diving is quite a tricky sport to work with. You have get the athlete as physically strong as possible to handle the high impact of the sport. They must also be explosive to be able to perform the dives that Tom does. All of this must be done without compromising their flexibility. Because of this, I vary strength exercises throughout the course of the year. I typically pair them with a mobility exercise to allow his body to never adapt to the stimulus and/or demands that are put on him. Another reason I do this is to help keep his body as flexible as possible while we are getting stronger.

What is your coaching philosophy?

JF: To have a great working relationship with my divers, which involves good communication. This builds trust and confidence. I also commit and dedicate myself to the journey as much if not more than the athlete. I set out to be the best role model I can be, and have as much fun as possible. And lastly, to create an environment of hard work and structure in order to keep everyone shooting for the same goals.

Let's talk food. What’s on the menu for Tom and the rest of the GB team in preparation for Rio?

JF: Tom has done the most amazing job getting himself fit and lean leading up to Rio, nutrition is something he had very little knowledge about before he met me, so we have just tried to create a nutrition program that he understands and takes full responsibility for. This includes recovery drinks, gels, nutrition bars and proper feeling of his body throughout the whole day. We have had awesome nutritionists helping him create the best meals for him, based on what he likes to eat. Tom has also refrained from drinking any alcohol the past year and half, to give himself the best shot at gold – this he decided himself, and I applaud and admire his dedication to it.

What do your athletes do for core work, and how important is it?

JF: Core work is very important for all divers, that's why he has awesome strong abs and core. We do abs and core every day, six days a week. We do regular abs that are diving specific as well as med ball exercises that target the core and obliques.

Gymbox is always looking to stay ahead of the curve with their training methods, what's on the horizon in the training world.

BD: The training world is starting to shift more and more towards data base or data driven knowledge specific to each athlete. We have started to use an app called MADE that logs all of the workouts both in the pool, and in the weight room, along with all of their nutrition, sleep, levels of fatigue and injuries. All of these things are key components to how he performs, and it allows me to get the best training out of him as possible throughout the course of the year.

Who are some of your mentors in the training field and in life?

My mentors in the diving world include all the diving coaches who taught me and trained me. They come from all over the world. The person who has helped me the most was Coach Tom Telez who was sprinter Carl Lewis' coach – they won 10 gold medals together, and he coached with me in Houston, Texas, for many years.

What one piece of advice would you give to our members on their fitness journeys?

JF: My advice to your members would be: Commit to being your best and working hard at their workouts. Be passionate, and have fun! And have a goal, it makes it easier to look forward to something.