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Winning When It Counts

The Practice of Continuous Learning Championed by an Olympic Gold Medalist and Coach

Illustration Credit: New York by Boyoun Kim

I was born in Germany near the Augsburg Eiskanal, the word’s first artificial whitewater course that was built for the 1972 Olympics. At age eight, I got involved in whitewater slalom kayaking at one of the clubs along the racecourse. The sport suited me well, my family was supportive, and I had an excellent support network—practicing in the midst of world champions. Before long, I found myself paddling on a national level and unexpectedly, at age 15, I almost qualified for the 1988 Junior National Team. Until that point, I had been doing three to six workouts a week, and I was content with the day-to-day challenges and steady improvements. But then I got it into my mind to race at the next Junior World Championships, which was in 1990. Together with a close friend, I stepped up my training. We pulled out all the stops and added weight training before school and extra laps to the regular workouts. As it turned out, both my friend and I qualified for the World Championships. We were as committed as any 17-year-olds can be—completely prepared and ready. Then I got into my boat, tripped over my paddle …

Oliver Fix is a member of the USA Canoe/Kayak High Performance Committee working on the 2016 Olympics, as well as a professional life coach. A video of his perfect run at the 1995 World Championships can be found at

By Oliver Fix. Click here for more!

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