By Daniel Gilhooly
It took a while but New Zealand’s Dylan Schmidt knows what works and what doesn’t in world class trampoline gymnastics.
Rest is a fundamental part of success, he says, and will lead his bid for a world title defense in Birmingham this week.
Twenty years since he first jumped on his backyard trampoline in Te Anau, Schmidt now knows not to get too busy before a big event – and not to break a sweat during that time either.
Staying cool and composed worked for the Aucklander when he jumped to a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics and then again when he bagged gold at the world championships in Bulgaria last year.
“I’ve always put so much pressure on myself,” Schmidt told RNZ.
“I went through a bit of a phase in my early years where I would put myself in a good position, feel the pressure I feel, and not do the routine I was looking for.
“Definitely over the years I learned to take it a little easier and be a little more relaxed. I learned to take each comp as it is, to be as prepared as possible and then go in and have some fun.”
One of the most experienced in the field of more than 100 jumpers in the men’s singles competition, Schmidt will remain serene when the four-day world championships begin on Thursday.
He will not push himself to the limit through the preliminary rounds and will then aim to produce another controlled routine in the 24-man semi-finals.
Going well, his best efforts will be saved for Sunday’s final eight.
“So you’re just going through the rounds and ticking the box, ticking the box and then when you get to the final, that’s when you want to have your best stuff.
“It’s managing your energy and trying to get through each round. You still have to do good routines to get through but it’s taking that mental load of the preliminaries and semi-finals.
“Hopefully by Sunday you’re still feeling pretty fresh because that’s the big one – Sunday when it all happens, that’s when you win the medals.
“Last year at worlds our game plan worked well, so it’s exactly the same going into this one.”
Schmidt will achieve the second objective by reaching the last eight – where he is guaranteed an automatic place at next year’s Paris Olympics.
The 26-year-old will help older sister Rachel, who is also in the seven-strong New Zealand team in Birmingham, stay grounded.
Having last represented her country seven years ago she has regained her competitive edge but Schmidt predicts she will be even more relaxed than him.
“(She’s back) really for the love of the sport,” Schmidt said.
“She probably knows there are no Olympics on her horizon but the world championships are still great to be part of and to qualify.”
Schmidt is looking forward to returning home before Christmas, after spending five months abroad competing on the World Cup circuit and enjoying “a bit of OE”.
Recently, a 10-week camp in Bournemouth, training alongside decorated British trampoline gymnast Bryony Page, gave him one of the best preparations for a major event he can remember.
“Obviously the world championships and the Olympics are the pinnacle of my sport but once you get down to it, it’s a big deal,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I’m just jumping on a trampoline and flipping and doing a routine, just like any other day.”
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