In the fourth lap, Potts's heart rate hits 180. With a quarter mile to run, the death gaze returns, and he charges. He strides past Kemper with 200 yards to go, then crosses the finish line four seconds ahead of him—and 20 seconds behind Reed. Kemper storms off the course. Reed, a New Zealander who received U.S. citizenship only four months earlier, starts talking ecstatically to television cameras about the Olympic berth he has just won. Andy Potts and Hunter Kemper, the country's two best triathletes, are still not on the Olympic team.
POTTS SPENDS the evening with Doane, poring over data. His numbers were as good as they could possibly be. Roughly 110 minutes of the 112-minute race were perfect. "As an athlete, Andy is a diesel engine, and he should be on that team," says Olympic coach Lance Watson. "But any triathlete is always subject to the events of the race. Even Andy."
Potts waxes philosophical. "You win a race by having the fastest swim and the fastest run," he says. "I did. I just didn't respond when I should've. I don't feel like I had a mental lapse—it was just a tactical move that I didn't counter. That's the best run Matt's ever put out." He pauses. "I did a good job handling all the things that I could control."
And that's really all an athlete can do. No matter how meticulously someone like Potts trains, on race day he confronts chance, in the form of bad weather, equipment failure and, yes, misinformed volunteers. The triathlon will always be a game of training the body to take advantage of opportunities, and then praying like hell that those opportunities appear.
On June 22 in Des Moines, Potts and Kemper will fight it out one more time for the last spot on the Olympic team. As of press time, the U.S. team was safely above eighth place in the volatile international rankings, so that third Olympic slot was secure.
And so the day after Tuscaloosa, Potts flew home and continued his feedback training, preparing his body for the many things that could go wrong, or right. And that's really what gives the Olympics its drama: the fact that the best athlete—the one with the most finely tuned training regimen, the most phenomenal genetics and the most passion—doesn't always win.
Arianne Cohen, a former competitive swimmer, is the author of The Tall Book, a scientific exploration of the tall side of human stature to be published next year by Bloomsbury.
have they tried to do something along the lines of subjcts ing a peron to an enregy field to see whether that would either change their performance r allow someone to measure variations, which can the be corresponded to the bodies energy output.
This article was all well and good, but for high-ish level athletes none of this was new news. Many full-time athletes monitor restfullness by benchmark values on a wattage trainer, various heart rate "tests" etc... and adjust training load according to these values. This was just a long article telling the story of an American triathlete without much in the way of detailing "highly scientific training regimens".
He did not make it to the Olympics.
I enjoyed the article. I have done a couple of sprint triathlons and some marathons so it may have appealed to me more than other people.
I'll settle for a simple workout and some protein shakes, Then again, I don't plan to make the Olympics. My new invention is just fine for me, check it out at:
and a NASA sponsored contest at:
This was a great article which not only detailed the struggles of one olympic athlete along with his training regimen, but it gives insight on the novelty of feedback training focused on physiological and biological parameters (direct results of excersice and training such as heart rate) rather than their consequences (Since heart rate has been controlled, the athlete may run longer or faster, etc...) I think that the idea of measuring these parameters not only periodically but constantly throughout practices is definitely a wonderful tool for training and athlete's development since, as stated in the article, it provides a very good measure of the athlete's response to the previous training and whether rest or more training is required for future workouts.
This wonderful short story is exceptionally presented with a great introduction to the athlete, a moderate level of technical explanations worth of Pop Sci and very inspirational. Thank you Cohen.