I introduce to you, Olivier Cauwenbergh.
Until four years ago, Olivier Cauwenbergh was struggled to gain a stable position in the Belgian Canoeing National Team. The leadership of his boat mate then and “adventures partner”, through his higher performance level and his irrepressible arrogance, which made Olivier even more apparent humility and discrete, plus the difficulties of Olivier to adapt to the hard training system that was applied in the training camps of the Belgian Flatwater Canoeing National Team, made in that moment difficult to think that Olivier would be four years later one of the best paddlers in the world in K-2 1000m, 500m and 200m. Olivier was patient. Discreetly, he was taking note of how the effort had to be dosed in the training session, in the weekly training schedule and during the season. It was gradually learning to train and applying to his life, the particular style that requires sport high performance level. Being aware of his physical limitations to develop high levels of strength, Olivier squeezed until the maximum his excellent motricity to take his paddling technique to optimal efficiency levels. When he got the opportunity to demonstrate his potential as K-2 “marker”, in April 2009, he did very well. Since then, with three different crewmates, he has been the past four seasons, several times on the podiums in World Cup Regatas and European Under 23 Championships (2009). This progression has finished until now, with the straight qualification for the Olympics 2012 with his fourth position in the A Final last World Championship 2011.
It is not possible to understand Olivier´s high performance level in the recent seasons, if we don´t know some of his personality traits. Olivier, as I mentioned above, is a discrete type person and seemingly humble. Really he´s a “pedazo de cabrón”. He’s like the patient hunter that is able to wait as long as necessary until the dam is clearly in the middle of the crosshairs. He´s not going to lose any ammunition. But, don´t think that he is going to feel any complex competing by the side of the “shining stars” of the Canoeing environment because he´s the smallest and lightest between all of them. He hungers for “glory”. Olivier knows that he progresses, the “biological calendar” is on his side, he has the tools and support that he needs, he has tremendous confidence in himself and, above all, he enjoys doing what he does. For Olivier the “background” is very important. Above all, the boat must go faster and faster. That said, do not neglect the “forms”. The more beautiful is the picture, much more will be enjoyed the obtained results. “Aesthetics to power.”
It was not easy to understand the complex and interesting personality of Olivier in the seven years that have passed since I started training him. Olivier is not that one who is “psychologically naked” in the first opportunity. He took much time analyzing me well before I knew any clue of his way of being. In a certain way, I felt as he though suspicious of me. Olivier is a person of a few words about certain things. At this point of “understanding” and collaboration in our athlete-coach relationship, it is clear for me that he will speak only when necessary and he will require brevity of my explanations and silence, rather than convoluted presentations and “empty speeches”. A look of Olivier, a gesture, will clarify, almost better than a lot of words, if he´s agree with the result of training, implementation of a particular exercise or the shape of the boat in the water.
It doesn´t seem that London 2012 will be his first Olympic experience. I have the impression that he knows what’s coming: the “pressure” of the media, the special atmosphere surrounding the Olympics and makes them different than any other high-level canoeing competition, the greatest impact of the results, etc. Olivier comes into this point of the season with an optimal level of motivation. He also comes faster and stronger than ever. His behavior in the training camp shows that he knows that this is the most important moment in his still short sport career. He wants to make the most of it, live it very intensely, and, if everything clicks the next few days as it should, enjoy more than ever with his boat mate Laurens Pannecoucke (I’ll tell you some curious things about him one of these days), competing for the best result ever for him reached.
Hazewinkel; july the 18th, 2012.