The training of the Olympic long jump bronze medallist is discussed with her coach Tim Cawley
The evening of August 8, 2012, saw 26-year-old Janay DeLoach from Colorado grab a hard-earned Olympic bronze medal in London.
After the final DeLoach said: “I won a bronze medal by just a centimetre – OMG!” The reference was to ousting Ineta Radevica of Latvia into fourth. She added: “I made history tonight along with six other US track and field women, helping us obtain seven medals in one night. I would also like to thank those who lifted me before doubt was creeping my way.”
One such man who was instrumental in warding oﬀ any lingering doubts was Tim Cawley. He is the head assistant track coach at Colorado State University and he had already guided DeLoach to her first major medal earlier in the year at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul – a silver behind eventual Olympic champion Brittney Reese.
Cawley explains how the following endurance, speed, strength and flexibility progression set for DeLoach are far from radically different in principle to that set for the athlete who is still progressing towards world-class performance in the sport. Cawley emphasises the significance of being athlete-centred. “It is the coordination, psychological and technical aspects that are the easiest to modify to fit each athlete,” he says.
Many authors have explored the concepts of short, mid and long-term planning for athletics performance. By manipulating the type of activity and training loads, it is hoped that a coach can prepare an athlete for maximum performance during a competition.
Traditional models of periodisation see a power athlete move from a period of high volume training, to one of high quality and intensity, gradually tapering volume for one peak of maximal performance. In rejecting a single-peak periodisation model, interestingly Cawley advocates what Issurin (2010) describes as a “double- peak” or even “triple-peak” model.
First, it is clear that Cawley and DeLoach value both indoor and outdoor competition. “I like peaking for indoors and outdoors, especially when there is a world indoor championship,” Cawley enthuses. Secondly, he is keen to work with DeLoach in terms of effecting this as a way of avoiding the kind of sterility induced by boredom and asserts: “Mentally it helps to keep the training from getting mundane.”
Thirdly, he maintains that psychological and physiological benefits are intertwined. He says: “Physically, there are benefits in having recovery mesocycles in the middle of a macrocycle. This gives the athlete a chance to recover and gives their body a chance to adapt to the changes that they have been working on. They can also build confidence and it gives the coach and athlete a chance to reassess goals and technical work for the next phases.”
As to the rationale for a potential third peak, Cawley says: “I did almost a third peak for Janay because the USA Olympic Trials are always extremely competitive. We needed to have her peaking for the Trials and I was not willing to start her peak during the week of the Trials and hope she makes the team and then keeps that peak for the next five weeks. We peaked for the Trials and then went back to a small pre-competition phase to set up for the Olympics.”
DeLoach placed third in those very trials at Eugene, Oregon with a career best of 7.03m. Cawley elaborates that DeLoach’s Olympic bronze medal-winning season was split into three distinctive stages – indoor, outdoor and Games-specific. These stages can be further sub-divided into no less than 10 distinctive phases as follows.
As a useful pentathlon performance indicates, DeLoach has the endurance capacity to cope with the demands of world-class competition, which involves both qualification and a final which may exceed one hour in duration.
The pentathlon involves throwing, which suggests her competence in terms of the strength component of the long jump discipline. Her performances over both 60m and 100m reveal that the speed component of her training is well nursed and capable of being translated on to the long jump runway.
A sub-8sec clocking over 60m hurdles and an eye-catching 13.27 over 100m hurdles is reflective of a well-coordinated athlete, well-versed in technique and shows the kind of flexibility which is a pre-requisite for long jumping.
Such a range of impressive performances reveals an athlete who is both relaxed and confident in meeting the considerable demands of world-class competition.
» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes. Tim Cawley was interviewed by Jamie French and Matt Long, UKA coach education tutors, and David Lowes.