GENEVA, Ohio — The Summer Olympic Games are officially underway at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium. The games are the culmination of years of training for athletes across the globe.
With every athlete looking for an edge to streamline that training, the SPIRE Institute in Geneva is taking aim at building a competition hub for Olympic hopefuls.
Kibwé Johnson oversees the entire track and field program at SPIRE and sees the institute as a destination for athletes ready to make the next step in their training.
"The facilities are the best in the country and among the best in the world,” Johnson said. “Especially being able to accommodate for indoor and outdoor training, which, of course, being in Ohio is very important. The coaching staff, I mean, this coaching staff that we're building here is it's the best in the US.”
Tim Mack is a part of that coaching staff and is a Northeast Ohio native. Mack is also a Gold medalist in the pole vault at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Mack heads up the jumping program at SPIRE where he instructs young vaulters on the proper technique and training.
“It’s like an Olympic training center,” Mack said of SPIRE. “It has everything that an athlete who’s training for or has Olympic aspirations would need.”
Together, they make up just a few of the world-class coaches that call SPIRE home, sharing what knowledge and commitment it takes to student-athletes.
“If you take the high school athlete into consideration, I just really like to work with them because a lot of times they don't have bad habits,” Mack said.
The pair helps design a training regimen that will push athletes both physically as well as mentally.
“The road to the Olympics is filled with everyone who was as physically talented or more who never made it. And part of that is why being an Olympian is as special as it is,” Johnson said.
It starts simple enough, picking a goal and writing it down; making sure it’s something you see every day.
“You have them fill out a goal sheet. And it seems so simple. But I was like I did that my whole career,” Mack said. “It was like my email address ‘email@example.com.’ I typed that every day.”
Like any school, there are lessons learned along the way; both in sport and in life.
“Sometimes sometimes failure happens. and when that happens, you know, it's all good,” Johnson said. “You're still a human. You know how far you throw a steel ball on a wire just does not impact whether or not you're a good person.”
Johnson and Mack have each trained athletes that have made it to the Olympic trials, but the ultimate goal is obviously to have an athlete reach Olympic Gold.
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