As I write this I am sitting at JFK International airport in New York waiting to board my flight to the Czech Republic for the start of our World Championships adventure. It’s been a frantic few months leading up to this and barring any surprises, we have everything covered.
After we won nationals in April, the team that consists of Alex Jordaan (myself), Amy Kirtland, Andre Van Heerden, Bailey Edmunds and Warren Hitchcock got together to discuss going to the World Meet in Prostejov in the Czech Republic that is taking place in August 2014. We had mixed emotions since we had not done much training and our performance level was nowhere near that of Voodoo, the previous national team. We also would have no opportunity to do any training together before the meet so we were faced with a tough decision. International competition experience is valuable and since SAVOLO intends to stick together for another couple of seasons that ultimately played a big part in our decision to go. Team history and experience will benefit us down the road and will be critical in us reaching our goals.
Amy is currently busy with her MBA and as a result of her schedule is not able to get to Czech until the eve before the competition starts. We decided to do a week of training in Czech anyway under the guidance of Pete Allum who will be coaching us as well as filling Amy’s empty slot and flying Point for us. The team will make the 3.5 hour journey back to Prague the night before the meet to meet Amy and do an hour in the wind tunnel just to get our team flow on a bit and replace Amy’s MBA stuff in her brain with 4-way stuff. Then we head back to Prostejov in the early hours of the morning ready for the meet. It’s not ideal by any means but it’s what we can do and we are South Africans after all so we embrace challenges.
There are only 22 4- Way teams registered as opposed to 38 that participated at the 2014 World Meet in Dubai. The field is strong all the way the the bottom and the competition is going to be extremely tough. We are training and attempting to elevate our performance level by a couple of points and make our presence known.
Besides arranging the training camp we have been extremely busy behind the scenes talking to gear manufacturers, corporates, small companies and basically anyone who will listen to see if we can garner some support for our future plans. We have been extremely fortunate and a number of gear manufacturers were extremely generous and we are proud to be supported by UPT with our new Vector 3 containers, Vigil for our AAD’s, Cookie Composites for our helmets and Investec came on board and gave us some financial assistance for the actual competition registration fees. We have started to build excellent, valuable and meaningful relationships with various sponsors and we are extremely grateful for all the support that they are giving us.
Bailey and Warren have been jumping regularly back in SA, albeit doing tandems and boogies but they are staying in the air so should be ready for the training camp. Andre has been training with a team in the US and has done a number of outdoor and indoor camps so is current and ready. He has been flying in Outside Center on his US team and flies in the Inside Center position on SAVOLO but he will adapt to the change quickly and should be performing at full speed by the end of our training camp. I have been doing some tunnel coaching as well as some outdoor coaching to keep current. I am also jumping on a team based in New York and will be joining Andre at the US nationals immediately upon our return from Czech. I’m flying the Inside Center position while I am Outside Center on SAVOLO but the change of perspective has been great for me and I feel really good about my mental preparation. We just need to get to Czech and get in the air. We are training for 5 days and will hopefully get 50 jumps in.
Once the meet is over we head back to Prague and we assist Claire King and Dirk Venter with a tunnel camp for a week or so. We are very excited to pass on everything we are learning to everyone else and a tunnel camp directly after the world meet is the best opportunity to do this. There are a dozen or more campers from South African making the trip to Prague so it should be an excellent camp and we are very excited to be a part of it.
I’ll try and send daily or bi-daily updates from Czech as we train and head into the meet!
Alex obo SAVOLO