Going for Gold
After the countless hours of straining in gyms, pools, and on playing fields, athletes are finally getting their chance to go head to head against their rivals. Observing the abundance of talent that has come to compete in the games it is difficult not to wonder what sets the Gold Medal winners apart from the rest. At this level of competition, losing is not due to a lack of physical training, poor coaching, or inferior talent. Instead, results are determined by the smallest of mental errors. This psychological aspect of competition cannot be perfected merely by training, it is always something of an unknown quantity. This is what makes sports exciting and unpredictable.
The coaches featured in this issue draw on an established set of physical conditioning techniques but approaches vary on psychological preparation. Some stress confidence building, others emphasize relaxation techniques and mental rehearsals.
In the next ten days we will see which athletes are best able to harness the unpredictable mental side of sports.
For some participants this is their last event; for others the Universiade is a prelude to competitions at a higher level; but for everyone it will be an unforgettable test of mind and body.
Olympic Gold Medalist Advises on Peak Performance
Village Deputy Mayor Yukio Endo is no stranger to pre-performance jitters. Holder of the Olympic Gold Medal for team gymnastics in Rome (1960) and winner of both the team and individual Golds at the Tokyo (1964) games, he knows very well what it takes to overcome the pressure of international competition and deliver a peak performance. Universiade athletes would do well to take his advice.
Of critical importance, Endo says, is the maintenance of an ideal performance weight. Going into a competition at the right weight gives an athlete a sense of psychological security. While this might seem a relatively trivial point, in fact it is not. Under the intense pressure of publicity and pending competition an athlete can easily lose appetite and register a sudden weight loss in the days leading up to a performance. Endo advises strict control of diet and fluid intake to ensure that this doesn't happen.
As a Professor of Athletics at Nihon (Japan) University, Endo offers expert advice for Universiade's gymnastics entrants. As a one-person sport gymnastics involves tremendous psychological pressure, he says. In addition, it is extremely demanding and calls for extraordinarily high standards of performance. Thus, Endo expects gymnasts to deliver not just a crowd pleasing performance but one that will actually leave spectators moved. In order to accomplish this an athlete must have superb poise at the moment the competition begins, rising above the pressure of the event through absolute concentration on the performance at hand. If this proves difficult, Endo advises recalling a flawless performance from the past.
For Endo that memory is from the 1960 Rome Olympics when he helped Japan take the Gold Medal away from the favored Soviet team.
U.S. Volleyball Team Set to Gel
Jim McLaughlin the USA men's volleyball coach says his recently formed team is coming together. Selected members from colleges around the States began training in July with a four week camp in San Diego playing against the U.S.A Olympic team and foreign rivals to give the players experience as a team. McLaughlin said, "Our team is strong and fast so we have a good chance, but we are in a tough pool." When asked about their chances of winning the Gold he said the team is on track to peak at the right time.
Before the competition began he had his team working out twice a day, more rigorously in the morning session than in the afternoon. In the second session the players practiced their transition game. He eliminated jumping in practice sessions to minimize leg fatigue before the competition began.
Asked if the lack of air conditioning in the dorms is adversely affecting his athletes he commented: "You can't expect five star accommodations at events like this. It's going to be different from home and that's good to make them mentally tough." He pointed out that the 1988 men$BIT(B Olympic Gold Medal team performed well under a variety of conditions in a series of international competitions.
Judo Coach Stresses Diet and Trainig
It's every athlete's goal to perform at the highest level. Coaches use a variety of training techniques and maintenance programs tailored to the specific needs of each individual to help them accomplish this. People$BIT(B Republic of China women's Judo coach, Dong Ya Chen, tells his players to wrestle at their optimum weight in order to reach their highest potential.
A proper diet is vital in maintaining strength, so some teams take special food to competitions, but Ya Chen thinks the food served at the Village Restaurant is good enough.
Ya Chen said he put his wrestlers through intensive workouts before coming to Fukuoka and practiced twice a day leading up to the start of competition. For the morning workouts they took a short bus ride to their practice site and in the afternoon they stayed in the village to do their "road work."
Nervousness often impairs performance in big events. Ya Chen advises his wrestlers to concentrate on mixing with other athletes to divert them from the pressure of winning.
When asked how many medals he expects to take home he answered,$BE8(Be$BIM(Bl be happy with one or two, because Korea and Japan are so strong." He added, "If some perform well here, there's a possibility they'll go to the Olympics."
The Mental Side of Preparation
Lindsay Fraser, Great Britain's diving coach, brought just one diver to Fukuoka because this year's Universiade is sandwiched between the European Diving Championships in Vienna and September's World F.I.N.A. Cup in Atlanta. Diver Mark Shipman wanted to compete against the best from outside Europe and the Fukuoka competition provides that and more: the one-to-one player-coach ratio is a rare luxury.
Ms. Fraser admits that the Universiade has slightly lower standards than the Olympics, but she insists that it is a vital stage in preparing athletes for the top, and as a double Olympian herself, she should know.
In addition to pool practice, Ms. Fraser emphasizes conditioning the body using stretching and warming exercises; the althletes also do trampolining and perfect front and back somersaults in the gym.
As with other aesthetic sports, in diving the mental side of preparation is at least as important as being in peak physical condition. Ms. Fraser concentrates on getting her divers to perfect mental rehearsal techniques, so that, ideally, they will be able mentally to take themselves through$B!!(Beach dive exactly as they would when physically executing it.
Coach Builds Team Spirit
Leonid Mizikov, the Ukraine Women's Gymnastics coach emphasizes that his team is exactly that - a team. All train together in Kiev's University of Physical Education and Sports. "Everyone's here, all together. The strong and the weak," he says, and scorns the idea that anyone is entitled to star treatment.
Mr. Mizikov rates the quality of competition at Universiade as only a little lower than the Olympics: team member Natalia Kaliniina competed in the World Championships in '93, while Lyudmila Stovbchataya, who took part in the '92 Olympics, has chosen to make the Fukuoka Universiade her final competition.
After arriving in Fukuoka, the team trained 3 hours a day leading up to the opening competition - half the number of hours they would put in at home. As to the psychological side of training, Mr. Mizikov is tight-lipped: "My method is a secret." He is more expansive about the facilities here, however - "excellent" - and praises the food, although now that the games have opened, the gymnasts, who "can eat anything they want, but only a little of each thing" have to eat even less than usual.
Opening Ceremony Thrills Capacity Crowd
Surreal phantasmagoria. Wednesday's Opening Ceremony had Fukuoka Dome looking like a benign set from the movie "Alien," with ragged space-grey drapes shimmering against the metal rafters.
The mood lightened a little when the show began, chiefly because of the participation of scores of children, but the unreal quality persisted as figures floated Magritte-like from the Dome roof, while on the ground, giant figures strode through dry-ice on stilts.
The bungy jumpers thrilled the audience, no question, although many watchers seemed to be simply terrified for their safety.
The highlight, though, was the athletes themselves. Not just the colorful uniforms and national costumes - their exuberance provoked the Dome audience to an unusual display of spontaneous enthusiasm.
Multilingual Radio Keeps Athletes Up to Date
The Kapapoo Radio Station has been in action at RKB studio in Fukuoka Dome since the opening of Athletes Village on August 16. Their frequency is 76.3 Mitz. Co-anchors Ryuta Nobukawa and Bruce Haendel are reporting the news and events of Athletes Village both in Japanese and English from 7 a.m. to 12 noon. In the afternoon and evening they provide one hour of coverage in each of seven other languages: Chinese at 1:00, Spanish at 2:00, French at 3:00, German at 4:00, Italian at 5:00, Korean at 6:00, Russian at 7:00, and then in Japanese and English again after 8:00. These broadcasts are produced by volunteers. They report on Athletes Village via portable telephone and give the schedule and results of all games. They also provide useful information about shopping and interesting places to go in Fukuoka. The director and producer of the program, Yasumichi Inoue says, "We'd like more athletes and officials to listen to our program."
Universiade in Cyber-Space
A team of 20 student volunteers in the Electronic Information Department of Fukuoka College of Technology are sending information about Universiade all over the world via the Internet. Under the guidance of Professor Nishimura they have sent over 77,000 messages around the world, and have received 5,000 in return. A sample of recent messages includes: "Put up a good fight, China!"; "Go for the Gold Medal, Swiss Athletes!"; "Gambatte!"; "Offense is the best defense," the last one coming from Jun Kamiwazumi, former medalist of Japan.
In the Athletes Village there are three computers hooked up to the Internet, located just across from the Village information desk. Jorge Torres of the Mexican volleyball team occupied one of the terminals for a considerable time, getting encouragement from his friends in Mexico City and sending back responses.
During the games the student volunteers will visit the venues and the Athletes Village and report on newsworthy events and the results of the games. For the convenience of Internet users the information will go out in three languages: Japanese, English, and Chinese. The Internet service is supported by NTT Mobile Communication Network.
Did you see the shining pearl that appeared at the Village on Wednesday, August 23? Many did, but for those of you who did not get a chance to see Natsuki Ito, '95 Pearl Princess, Global Village is giving you another chance. The graduate student from Fukuoka Prefecture is majoring in Linguistics at Fukuoka University.
She won the national pageant sponsored by Tasaki Shingo Pearl Company, which created this year's Universiade medals. During her year long reign she will travel around the country and make a visit to Hong Kong in September. Judging by her popularity at the Village on the 23rd, her year promises to be a royal one.
Chief Editor: Masaru Inoue
Assistant: Yoko Kikutsugi
Writers: Yasuko Fujie
Photographer: Eisaku Harada
City Advisor: Masahiro Tomino
The Japan Experience
Program Schedule for Aug 25 thru 29
Tea Ceremony: Aug 26, 27, 29 (Sat, Sun &Tue) 14:00-18:00, Tea Ceremony Room
Flower Arranging: Aug 26 (Sat) 15:00-17:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A
Japanese-style Calligraphy: Aug 27, 28 (Sun&Mon) 15:00-17:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A
Ceramics: Aug 25 (Fri) 16:00-17:00 / 17:00-18:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A Painting a Hakata Doll: Aug 29 (Tue) 15:00-17:00 / 18:00-20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A
The Time Trip: Get a feel for old Japan by making and playing with simple toys. Aug 25-27 (Fri-Sun) 18:00-20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-B
One Hour Home Stay: Aug 25-31 (Fri-Thu ) 16:00-20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 2F-D
Fashion Show: Aug 26, 27 (Sat&Sun) 17:00-18:00, Disco
Music Ensemble: Aug 25-27 (Fri-Sun) 15:00-16:30, Disco
Caricature: An artist will capture your likeness in caricature. Aug 25, 26 (Fri&Sat) 11:00-17:00, Cultural Exchange Program Information Center
Name Card Corner: Aug 25 (Fri) 16:00-21:00, Cultural Exchange Program Information Center
Net Fishing: Aug 26 (Sat) 15:00-17:00, Beach
Beach Performance: Aug 26, 27 (Sat&Sun) 17:00-19:00, Beach
Fukuoka City Tour 'A' (full-day): Aug 26, 29 (Sat &Tue) 9:00-17:00
Historical Sites (full-day): Aug 25, 27 (Fri&Sun) 9:00-17:00 Traditional Arts and Crafts (half-day): Aug 25, 27 (Fri&Sun) 13:00-17:00
Fishing Park (half-day): Aug 26 (Sat ) 8:00-12:00
Shofukuji Temple Zen Meditation (half-day) : Aug 25 (Fri) 13:00-16:30 (For Athletes) *Applications for each tour will be accepted 4 days in advance until 12:00 noon of the day before the tour.
Iso Gai ------- This place is really popular with the locals, so go early. The menu changes daily but all the produce is up on the counter - just point to what you want.
Great, fresh seafood, prepared to perfection, Japanese-style. Closed Mondays.
Getting there: Right across the road from Fujisaki Bus and Subway station.
Address: Fujisaki 1-1-40 Tel: 843-9833
Places To See
Marizon and Hakata Futo Bayside Place are Fukuoka's waterfront development complexes, complete with trendy restaurants, stores and passenger terminals for boats to Umi-no-nakamichi's seaside attractions. At Marine World there's a dolphin and sea-lion show four times daily, but if you don't want to see animals doing tricks, why not perform some of your own at the pool and water-slides of nearby Umi-no-nakamichi Seaside Park. Nice views from the ferris wheel, more blurred from the roller-coaster! Don't forget that last return boats leave fairly early, but you could plan to spend the evening back at Marizon or Bayside Place.
Getting there: Marizon is a short walk from Fukuoka Tower. Buses leave for Bayside Place from bus stop 2B in Tenjin.
Admission to Marine World: 2,100 yen. Special offer to athletes: 1,470 yen, if you show your A.D. card.
Umi-no-nakamichi Seaside Park: 390 yen Swimming pool: 1,600 yen (park fee included)
Night-time Marizon makes for interesting people-watching. Check out all the fancy cars lined up along the road - the youth of Fukuoka looking for romance.
Fuji no Yu ---- For something completely different, early evening is a great time to visit a sento (public bathhouse). Fuji no Yu is utterly cool and an aspect of old Japan that's fast disappearing. Take soap and towels to this tiny, no-frills bathhouse and soak along with the (mostly older) locals.
Getting there: Fujisaki Bus/Subway station. Cross the road east from the Ward Office to the police station. Walk towards the sea 1 minute - first right (at the vending machines).
Bath: 340 yen. Closed Saturdays. Hours 5 - 10 p.m.
Address: Momochi 1-14-16 Tel: 821-1880