Endurance & Ian Ferguson

Bio
Few New Zealanders have competed at more Olympic Games than Double Gold Medallist Ian Ferguson. New Zealand’s most successful Olympian – winning five
medals in five Olympic campaigns – Ferguson thrived on the challenge of competition, on and off the water.
 
“You’re not racing their body, you’re racing their
mind” – Ian Ferguson
Q&A
What is your key to success?
I pride myself on never having missed a training session; even on a bad day, I would push through, knowing my rivals might not be training. Sport is a mental game - not just when you’re racing, but in training as well. You train to be a winner, to understand your body, and how far you can push yourself, I believed I could win, and I expected to win. You have to play the game.
How does Endurance play a role in success?
Endurance was also crucial to me. You need endurance to train hard. It’s 90% of the job. For quick races, you train over longer distances – two-hour paddles – so that when you come to race day, the distance makes it seem easy. You want to control your body and stop it from making shortcuts. So after your body has been paddling for two hours it doesn’t stop doing the small things right – it’s all automated. Endurance is about going the maximum speed longer than the next person. also learned to hurt. The best athletes, have to be able to delve deep into their “hurt box”. Bad athletes are too scared to go in, or they stay at the top of their hurt box. Good athletes will go right down to the bottom. You have to understand pain as just a feeling in your brain; people can’t describe pain when they recall it. I was happy to hurt.
What inspired you to keep going over a long career?
Age was never a factor in my career. At 36, I was still at the pinnacle of my sport, winning gold and silver at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, and making the finals in my events at my fifth Olympics in Barcelona games four years later. I never wanted to quit the sport, the secret to my longevity was dedication, self-belief and loving the sport and the lifestyle that came with it. I enjoyed it, but I never let it rule my life.
How did being an Olympian inspire you in other areas of life?
It gave me self-belief, I learned practical skills – how to build houses, to weld and do electrical wiring. It’s developing a can-do attitude. Why pay someone else to do the wiring when I can do it?
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