Elite athletes did not get to where they are by winning a raffle ticket. They have dedicated their lives to eking out every ounce of ability and talent they have through hard work and unbridled commitment. Sure, some work harder than others and some are more naturally talented, but every athlete at the top is an athletic marvel in their own right. However, as bizarre as it may seem, some have never learned how to move their body correctly. That's when they call in the experts.
The Crusaders are just four matches away from completing a remarkable unbeaten season in Super Rugby. Their success has been built on an innovative approach to maintaining and increasing fitness as the long gruelling season has progressed. CONQA speaks to Simon Thomas, head off strength and conditioning at the franchise.
All records are made to be broken but some are just never expected to do so. One of those was Michael Johnson's 43.18 set in the 400m in 1999. However, at the Olympic Games in Rio last year, Wayde van Niekerk smashed it out the park with a mind blowing 43.03. The women behind his success, "Tannie Ans" Botha, speaks to CONQA on how that record has changed their relationship, how the pair are striving for more success and what it would take to join the pantheon of greats who claim gold in both the 400m and 200m.
Rather than look back on the year that was, CONQA Sport is casting an eye on 2017 and calling on the powers that be to make some changes to improve the games we love. In the cutthroat world of top level sport, stagnation is suicide and so, along with some of the leading figures in the industry, we have compiled a 2017 wish list for a happy and elite new year.
Golf is the most popular sport for people 50 years and up. Makes sense right? Golf is mostly taking a pleasant stroll through manicured fields interspersed with the occasional swing of a lightweight stick. Obviously professional golfers are getting more and more athletic but where else do you find a fully professional Senior Tour? Well it turns out that the twilight years come much sooner for female golfers and more and more young women are dominating the game. CONQA Sport examines the societal reasons behind the phenomenon and finds that they are more worrying than first imagined.
Grant Lottering knocked on Death’s door on a cold mountainside in the Alps almost 3 years ago after falling off his bike and slamming into a rock embankment. Fortunately for the South African cyclist, the Grim Reaper wasn’t at home and gave him a second chance. Most people would have counted their blessings and put as much distance between themselves and a bicycle as possible. Not Lottering. Instead he is returning the Alps to attempt something no other human has ever done before.
Here’s a question: would you rather have Lionel Messi’s left foot or Cristiano Ronaldo’s right? Tough choice, so why not both? Ambidexterity is a rare ability that few possess. Being able to perform equally well on both sides of the body might be a handy trait in everyday life but is a massive competitive advantage in many sports. Elite athletes who possess this gift stand out. But is it something they are born with, and if not, how can you train it? CONQA Sport explores.
They say an army marches on its stomach, well then so does the future of a nation’s sporting ambitions. There is no such thing as a successful elite athlete who goes to bed hungry. Could the solution to South Africa’s transformation problem be found on the empty dinner plates of hungry children? Are quotas and government interventions providing results, or are we merely papering over gaping cracks that are indicative of an unequal society? CONQA Sport explores the relationship between transformation and nutrition and finds that the challenges we face are heavier than first imagined.
"In rugby, men are missiles," so said sports journalist and sexologist Ernest Crawley in 1913. If only he could see them now. As the years have gone by, particularly after the injection of professionalism in the late '90s, those missiles have become nuclear warheads. Monsters crash into monsters for 80 minutes and the pace and force of the game has become relentless. And we love it. But what are the ramifications of the ever increasing forces rugby players exert on each other? Should we, as sports fans, be concerned? CONQA Sport speaks to Paddy Anson, Head of Strength and Conditioning at Gloucester Rugby, and explores the negative impact of expanding athletes. How has it affected the way the game is played and is there a warning from the NFL that rugby should be taking seriously?
Subtlety and precision, or raw power and force of will; if asked to associate these attributes with either ballet or elite sport it would appear to be an easy match to make. Ballet is the prance of the aristocrat while sport is the everyman’s pastime. And yet, crossing the divide might provide a way for inhabitants in both camps to improve their already impressive attributes. Caryl Becker, Physiotherapist for the Royal Ballet Company, explains how her background in elite sport has helped improve the conditioning of dancers, and what ballet and the art world can teach elite sport.
There are some special athletes around the world that seem impervious to the touch of Father Time. These men and women not only refuse to let the advancing years hinder them; they embrace their age with wisdom, skill, and invaluable experience. One such athlete is Victor Matfield; the imperious South African rugby forward who is not only the most capped Springbok of all time, but at 38, is still one of the most indomitable sportsman on the planet. CONQA Sport explores how older athletes maintain excellence, how they adapt their game, and the emotional maturity that is needed in order to remain at the top.
Every coach and manager has to implement innovative and creative strategies in order to stay ahead of the field. Most elite teams have scores of advisers, specialists, coaches, and opinion makers; all of whom need to be focussed towards a single vision. It is no different for those responsible for the athletes’ fitness and well-being. Wayne Diesel, the Sports Performance Director for the Miami Dolphins, discusses why managing the philosophy within the medical team is vital to success on the field.
If you could amalgamate different elements from different sports to create the perfect athlete, what would you take? The endurance of a marathon runner, the agility of a gymnast, the speed of a sprinter, the dexterity of a basketball player; each sport has its own unique skill sets and requirements. In our latest interview, Richard Quan, owner and trainer at Fighting Fit Militia in Johannesburg explains to us why he thinks mixed martial artists are as close to the perfect athlete as we are ever going to get.
Injury: the greatest fear for every athlete. Across any code, at any level, injury is a part of life for sportsmen and women. A torn hamstring, a broken arm, a severe concussion; all injuries require extensive physical therapy. But what about the mental battle that needs to be waged when injured? How does the psychological process measure up to the physiological one? Doctor Charlie Weingroff and Springbok captain Jean de Villiers reveal what an athlete goes through psychologically when undergoing physical rehabilitation.
In our latest interview, we chat to Stephan du Toit, head of strength and conditioning for the Stormers and Western Province rugby teams. Du Toit has been working with some of the best players in the game for over 11 years and so when he tells us how his holistic approach to conditioning is one to follow, we take him very seriously.