9 December 2009

Wii's Good Enough For Kosuke

My late (and great) friend, Kirby Sandford was a longtime stalwart of mental preparation for swimming. I met Kirby at a young age, and we were friends until his incredibly sad passing in 2002. He was, like myself, a disciple of the pool - his favourite events were the 50m and 100m freestyle. Before his death (caused by an almost unbelievable melanoma of the brain lining) he garnered national age-group titles in the shorter distance, and was fourth at Opens in the 100m freestyle in 2001.

Kirby took his swimming so seriously it often hurt. One of my more vivid memories of him (aside from the time we turned up at his house with a homemade mannequin in a wheelbarrow) is from a Waikato Championship meet where I sat silently next to him while he rested his head, eyes closed, on the rail of the bleachers and went about visualising the race he was about to swim. Obviously, his temperament training worked wonders - Kirby was one of the Waikato's most successful swimmers and had he not met his end so early and horribly in life I have little doubt that he would have continued on his path in the sport and become a New Zealand representative if not at Commonwealth Games and World Championships then at the Olympics.

He reminded me of the 2000 Olympic women's 100m breaststroke champion, Megan Quann (now Jendrick). She was so finely tuned psychologically that she could visualise a 100m race, while her coach held a stopwatch, and would often swim within 0.05s of her predicted time in a race.

I've just read that my Japanese hero, Kosuke, used a Nintendo Wii to help him mentally prepare for the Beijing Olympics. Yes, really. You can read about it here. He claims the game Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games helped him envision the atmosphere in which he would be competing. Keen? I'm overly keen. Any excuse to play video games, and I'm in.

As far as I'm concerned, he can do no wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't know that about Kirby(didn't know much about the swimming side of his life). Anniversary of his death was last Friday, so it is good to hear there are people out there who still think of him from time to time.