Jamie Turner is Training the Best in the World
Elite triathlon coach Jamie Turner is an affable New Zealander known for building mentally unbreakable athletes. The 46-year-old former triathlete, now a bit soft around the edges, loves to speak in metaphors gleaned from lifelong study of performance.
He picked up his favourite from legendary San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (who got it from turn-of-the-century journalist Jacob Riis): “I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the 101st blow, it will split in two, and I know it was not the blow that did it but all that had gone before.”
After interviewing coaches around the world, American Gwen Jorgensen felt she identified best with Turner’s mental strength-focused training method. Jorgensen had worked out with Turner’s squad when she was in Australia for a race.
Turner thought Jorgensen had the potential to be one of the best in the world – if she would commit to living in a daily performance environment with other dedicated athletes. She put the next four years of her life in his hands.
She packed up for Australia and joined Turner’s squad of eight Olympic hopefuls from around the world, who had dubbed themselves the Wollongong Wizards, after the coastal city south of Sydney where they lived during the US winter. Then she got to work.
Turner encouraged her to start a journal, documenting every day what she had done well and what she could improve upon, focusing on process rather than outcome: “I executed to the best of my ability” versus “I won”.
Turner asked her tough questions she’d never asked herself: Are you going to go last on the bike or will you be more assertive? What are you willing to change? He taught Jorgensen to see her decisions – to join the team, to leave her family and the comfort of home, to dedicate her life to Rio – as an investment, rather than a sacrifice. “We worked to move her away from the accounting mold into someone prepared to take risks and be accepting in her mentality, never to block something out,” Turner says. “We can accept that we’re not feeling very good and – not but – be able to perform.”
Turner is originally from Waitara. He is Australia’s lead triathlon coach through to the 2020 Olympics.
Original article by Erin Beresini, Outside, October 3, 2018.