Learning to Deliver the Ultimate Performance

Learning to Deliver the Ultimate Performance


Olympic success demands the ultimate performance. And with the London Games just around the corner, one of this country’s most experienced high performance directors points to the Commonwealth Games as invaluable preparation.


“I’ve never looked at the Commonwealth Games as strictly a ‘lead-up event,’” says Mitch Geller, High Performance Director at Diving Canada. “It’s just as important to recognize the inherent value of the Commonwealth Games as a major international competition in its own right. These Games aren’t just part of the journey, they’re a destination in and of themselves.”


London 2012 will make it an even half-dozen Olympic competitions for Geller, who points to his five Commonwealth Games as pivotal learning experiences.


“If an athlete or coach hopes to succeed at the Olympic level, then you have to learn how to deliver top performances on demand,” he maintains. “The Commonwealth Games provide that stage, and there’s even more incentive to deliver that ultimate performance because the medal opportunities are greater. A Commonwealth Games title is a title for life. These are career-capping moments for many of our athletes.”


Geller has worn many different hats at Commonwealth and Olympic competitions: coach, broadcast commentator, consultant, and high performance director. Through these various roles, he’s learned that adaptability is a critical success factor—being able to handle those issues and circumstances that are impossible to anticipate.


From that perspective, Geller maintains that the Commonwealth Games “make it real. And through those experiences you learn how to be adaptable which, in turn, can be parlayed into a competitive advantage.”


Over the years, Diving Canada has used the Games to pilot test structural and even philosophical approaches.


“I remember in Kuala Lumpur (in 1998), it was clear that we had a whole bunch of overlapping roles within our team,” says Geller. “The Commonwealth Games experience allowed us to make key changes that really improved our performance in Sydney two years later.”


With the London Games fast approaching, there are high hopes, once again, for podium performances from Canada’s divers: from Alexandre Despatie, who shocked the diving world as a 13-year-old by winning the 10-metre platform gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, to Jennifer Abel, who enjoyed a breakthrough performance at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, winning two gold medals and a silver.


With the benefit of multiple Commonwealth Games behind them, Mitch Geller is confident that his athletes are poised to deliver the ultimate performance.


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