Dr. Bram Brouwer

Independent truth seeker and thinker and counter-thinker

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MANTGUM - Gerard, we have all seen how Sven fared during his Olympic 10 kilometers. It is terrible to be the cause of a sports coach that a pupil misses his gold Olympic medal. I'm afraid many will fall over you, which I think is unjustified. As a (sports) psychologist I saw a good coach and a driver who trusted his coach. A tandem to be proud of. I'll explain.

Gerard Kemkers

A desperate Gerard Kemkers immediately after the disastrous ride of Sven Kramer.

As an ex-speed skating coach, I know how you view the previous corner from your position. You saw Skobrev in the inner lane while driving in the outer lane. In psychology we call this a visual distortion: you see something different from reality. This occurs when our brains misinterpret the image of our eyes. Example: You are on a stationary train with a train leaving next to you. Almost everyone knows that it can seem as if your train is leaving.

We do not consciously control perception errors, especially within fractions of seconds. This was partly because the Olympic protocol did not allow you to be an assistant, so you had to write on the whiteboard yourself. You had (too) little time to adjust your perception. You have responded adequately to your perception, unaware that it was wrong. You noted Sven's lead over Lee, judging that if Skobrev drives the inner lane, he must go out at the intersection and Sven must therefore go to the inner lane. You then indicated Sven's lead and the change of track.

You had to make these considerations in a split second. I think it was more of a reflex, composed of years of coaching skills, than a conscious assessment. We only give meaning to such assessments afterwards, you didn't have time for that at the time. For me you are a perfect coach if you can sort this out quickly. Then Sven doubted. He chose your designation. Sven trusted his coach, despite the fact that he is very good at shoving his own beans.

The combination of a good coach and an independent athlete with confidence in his coach is probably one of the pillars of Sven's successes. It makes sense that Sven was angry at you at first. But the way you both reacted later was class. In summary: I saw an adequately responsive coach and an athlete who completely trusted it. Unfortunately, the coach's response was based on a biased observation. However, that is a normal human failure, with fortunately usually less severe consequences.

Gerard, I sincerely hope that this event, no matter how violent, will not break up between you and Sven. Such a break could be detrimental to Sven's future. I would like to tell your boss, the TVM management: 'if I set up a skating team, you would be at the top of my list of intended trainers'. It was not without reason that I spoke in the beginning of this article about cause and not about guilt.


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