I often wondered…
What happens when you coach International athletes? Who do you root for? Your own country, or your own athletes?
Going back to the Rome 1960 Olympics, when Elvin "Ducky" Drake at UCLA coached both Rafer Johnson AND Yang Chuan-Kwang of Taiwan in the Decathlon, who was he rooting for? During those incredible two days, what was going through Drake’s mind? Obviously a 1-2 finish, which of course happened.
How about Dan Pfaff of USA who coached Donovan Bailey of Canada? In 1996 Olympics, who was he rooting for? His fellow countryman or his own athlete?
Daniel Bailey of Antigua & Barbuda is coached by Glen Mills of Jamaica, who also coaches Usain Bolt?
I could go on and on, like the Energizer Bunny.
I am in a precarious position where I am Canadian at birth, living in Italy, and coaching athletes from all over the world.
I have to give credit to Stephen Francis of Jamaica. He is brutally honest when it comes to his feelings and emotions over his athletes.
“The truth of the matter is that I don’t have the best interest of the Jamaican team members at heart. What I do have is the best interest of the people that I coach at heart.
“I have in the past strongly believed that people who coach a number of athletes, especially non-Jamaicans in a private capacity, should not be accepting positions on a national programme primarily because, well for me, I am really interested in how the athletes who I coach perform.
“And if I coach an athlete from Trinidad or from Bahrain, I am going to want my athlete to beat any Jamaican that I do not coach as a result of the whole athlete-coach thing.”
Dave Goodger says
I bet most coaches would go with the athletes they are coaching. It’s the whole involvement, investment of time and interest in the individual and for the coach a measure of how successful their programme has been.
For me I’m always more interested in the athletes I’m coaching regardless of where they are from, albeit that for me it’s club versus club; region versus region rather than national pride at stake.
Stephen Francis is 100% correct. I’d have to go with the athlete over the country if I were a coach. In fact, in track and field it is more engaging when a favorite is competing regardless of the country she or he may be from. Personally, when it comes to World Cup or international soccer, I root for Italy over all countries including the U.S.
Jimson Lee says
@Fred – Now that I’m in Rome, I *HAVE* to root for Italy during World Cup or else I may suffer bodily injury!