Beaconsfielder behind medalists’ “mental architecture”
By Rhonda Massad
Beaconsfield sports psychology professor Dr. Wayne Halliwell helped sisters Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe reach the Olympic podium at this month’s winter games in Sochi, Russia.
Justine, by winning gold, is now ranked as the best mogul skier in the world and her sister, not far behind, won the silver medal. The sisters set a hot pace at the outset that inspired the Canadian Olympic Team for the remainder of the games.
Although Dr. Hallliwell usually steers clear of the limelight, this year the athletes insisted that he stand with them while they awaited their medal results.
The Université de Montréal professor had worked with the young women for more than three years and with Alex Bilodeau for nine.
“These are relationships that have evolved over time, I don’t come in for the last few months, it’s a long-term association,” explained Halliwell.
Athletes refer to Dr. Halliwell as a “mental architect” and—though he prefers to call himself as a mental sports consultant—the medical world refers to him as a doctor of sports psychology.
“Every personality requires a different angle,” Dr. Halliwell said, explaining that he takes a different approach with each athlete.
Justine used Katy Perry’s song Roar to focus on the tiger in her belly as she ascended the slopes reciting her mantra “quick and light”.
Dr. Halliwell added that sister Chole had a very serene outlook going into her second Olympic competition, she conjured up imagery of “attacking” the hill. Her focus word was affammé, the French word for starving. Her objective was to eat up the moguls while remaining relaxed and tension-free.
“I’m on it” Halliwell said Chloe told him, just before the race.
Dr. Halliwell took an entirely different approach as third-timer Alex Bilodeau entered his last Olympic bid. Dr. Halliwell wanted him to enjoy the journey. He coached Alex for more than nine years and led him to make history at Sochi as the first athlete to win two gold medals back-to-back.
Dr. Halliwell takes a simple approach to his teaching.
“It is very applied and very concrete and very sticky,” he told The Suburban. “There is a physical prep, which includes fitness and technique and a mental prep which includes being focused and ready.
Dr. Halliwell explained that “it also involves an emotional prep which entails embracing the moment and having fun, being calm and breathing.”
Halliwell is an internationally recognized applied sport psychology authority who has worked as a mental performance consultant with many other individual athletes and teams at the summer and winter Olympic Games.
The roster of Olympic medalists whom he has worked with includes Bruny Surin, Alex Bilodeau, Jennifer Heil, and Joannie Rochette.
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