During the World Championship last year, one of the major upsets was when Jenny Simpson won the 1500-meter race and became the first ever American woman to have gained that title. Naturally, everyone, including her, was surprised. But Simpson gives a lot of credit for this victory to the internet.
Before internet became an integral part of our lives, athletics were more or less a one-person act who would, in turn, be supported by one or more coaches. But there was no involvement of others in the whole activity during training.
With internet, it all changed. Athlete-specific websites sprung up, forums were devised, and entire networks were created around the top athletes to provide them feedback and bolster their motivation by supporting them. Simpson says, “The Internet kind of opened up my eyes.”
It also helped her immensely in knowing what the athletes in other parts of the country, and the world, were doing, and what world records were being set, so she would know what challenge she was up to. Referring to the 5,000-meter cross-country racing record, she says, “I wanted to break 17 minutes. I wanted to run certain times and the internet played a paramount role in that.”
Simpson is not the only runner who got young and of age during the internet era. A number of other athletes who are running during the Olympics have made significant use of internet to gather inspiration and motivation. One of the most significant websites which, with many elite users in the sports world, has been most helpful is Dyestat. The site, launched in 1997, soon grew immensely and was acquired by ESPN.
Tegenkamp, another of the Olympic runners, says, “I started to compare myself nationally and realized that there is always somebody better out there, and you want to one-up their performance. It is really what drove our generation forward.”
It was discoveries like this, made through internet, that motivated a whole crop of athletes to work even harder. A sense of community that the internet fostered helped them build ties with other athletes, share tips with other runners and gain feedback from them. And, thus motivate them to achieve the ‘un-achievable’.
Courtesy: The Verge