Tara Nott Cunningham
Tara Nott Cunningham, Olympic Athlete in weightlifting for the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. She is the only athlete to have trained at the United States Olympic Training Center in three different sports (gymnastics, soccer, and weightlifting). She is the first U.S. female weightlifter to ever win an Olympic gold.
"I did a lot of visualization to prepare for the Olympic Trails and the Olympics, which helped me to stay calm and deal with the pressure of an Olympics. I also tried not to focus on my competitors. When I first began lifting, I would look around in the warm up room and get caught up in how good everyone else looked and then get nervous. I learned over time to focus on the one thing I was doing—lifting, and to shut everything else out. Going into a competition, I have weights in my head I would like to make and I focus on that."
"In the 2000 Olympic Games, my coach decided to open me with 80kg in the snatch. This was a weight I had only hit once in a competition at 48kg, which was at the Olympic Trials. I had very little time to refocus. In the months leading up to the Games, though, we had spent a lot of time getting me mentally focused and teaching me to stay calm during the chaos. I think that prepared me for this moment, to readjust quickly and concentrate on the challenge ahead of me."
Iron Athlete Clinics, Photograph by Bruce Klemens