Behind every great athlete there is a great coach and on Thursday evening two of the best – Melody Davidson and Vitaly Petrov - visited Congress Innsbruck for a special Q&A session attended by IOC President Jacques Rogge.
Joined by one of her star players, Jennifer Botterill, Melody - who led Canada’s women’s ice hockey team to three Olympic gold medals and no fewer than five world championship titles - said without hesitation that the key to success is “Passion”. The pair added that their relationship was more of a friendship and that’s why it worked so well.
Vitaly was also joined by his protégée, the legendary Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergey Bubka – who set an incredible 35 world records during his glittering career – and used the session to outline how he tries to understand his athletes and their talent, explaining if you don’t really know your athletes, it is impossible to get the best out of them.
Sergey, who won gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and still holds the current outdoor world record, reminded the athletes that “nobody is born a champion”, but added that a good coach can have a major influence on an athlete’s progression from a talented youngster to an Olympic champion. For Sergey, that person was Vitaly, who commented that he acted as a “father for Sergey when it came to sport”. And the pride he felt when talking about his “son” was apparent on stage.
While all athlete/coach relationships are different, all of the participants on stage were keen to urge that taking the right steps isn’t enough to be successful. The most important thing, as a sportsman and a person, summarised Sergey, is to “never stop trying new things”.