By Jason Burnett
The road to the 2012 Olympic Games was an exciting one. Over the next 4 years I would set world records, become a stuntman, recover from injuries, and go back to school. The confidence I gained from my first Olympic experience helped me take advantage of opportunities and overcome obstacle. And with the 2012 Olympics on the horizon, my sights were set on gold.
After winning the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics I became much more confident in myself and my abilities. This was great for my self-esteem, but it also had a down side. I was very shy as a kid and confidence didn’t come naturally to me. So when I finally had some, I didn’t know how to control it. This led to over-confidence, and a lack of awareness for how it affected others around me. I thought I knew best and forgot about how many people had contributed to my success.
As a result, my ability to work as a team suffered greatly. I didn’t want to be coached and became resistant to new ideas. I was going to do it all on my own and didn’t need help from anyone. My new attitude had a negative effect on my training, but I was stubborn and refused acknowledge this. I had moments of success sprinkled throughout the next 4 years which made me think I was on the right path, but my level of consistency was never the same.
There was one particular skill that I always struggled with called “half-in half-out trifus pike”. It’s a full twisting triple back flip in the pike position. But since I wouldn’t listen to my coach, I never figured out how to perform it consistently. Instead, I kept making the same mistakes, and sometimes this would result in a crash and the termination of my routine.
When I competed at the 2012 Olympics I put myself at a disadvantage. By not accepting help from my team I struggled to handle the pressure of a defending Olympic medalist. I had a strong preliminary competition and qualified for the finals in 6th place. But during my final routine I crashed on the half-in half-out trifus (the 2nd of 10 skills) and had to settle for 8th place.
This was a disappointing result, and I’ve always wondered what could have happened if I’d gotten over my ego and worked as a team. Trampoline is an individual sport, but there are numerous people who help bring you that final moment of competition. This time around I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been, and the only thing left to do was learn from the experience.
While it may be hard to do, it is important that we take ownership of our mistakes. Only by doing this can we change our behavior for the better, and have a greater chance of success in the future.