Five Point Move is proud to host US Greco Roman National Team Head Coach Matt Lindland every week for “Coach Lindland’s Report.” For fans and wrestlers looking for insights regarding the US Greco National Team, we ask Coach Lindland some questions to get his take on training and upcoming competitions. If you have any questions you’d like us to ask going forward let us know via Facebook, Twitter, or through our Contact page.
We are now just days away from the US Greco Roman Olympic Team leaving for Rio, and a little over a week until the first two athletes, Jesse Thielke (59 kg) and Andy Bisek (75 kg) take the mat. Given that we have appropriately placed an emphasis on Coach Lindland and the team throughout the last few months leading up to these Olympics, it felt right to do this week’s report as a two-part special. We first spoke to Coach Lindland on Friday night (August 5th) after he had returned from the Opening Ceremony event in Colorado Springs, where the Greco Olympians were part of the festivities and torch lighting. Topics include that, the final days of workouts, and the Korean and Algerian teams coming by the OTC for some last-minute training.
5PM: How has this particular week of preparation been? I know that there have been other activities outside of the wrestling room lately, so how has that all went?
Coach Matt Lindland: First and foremost, we spent the last week keeping the guys tuned up, in shape, and ready to go. We had our last workout of the week this morning and then the guys did have some good festivities to be apart of. It seems like every time we come to a break we go to Houston to get processed, or we go to California. So the breaks are coming at appropriate times. Tonight was another one of those appropriate times because Monday and Tuesday before we leave it’s just individual workouts, just basically what every athlete needs, we’ll help them with. But other than that, nothing scheduled. Tomorrow morning we do have a hike because we feel it’s important to get connected to nature and get your soul right before you step on a plane. So we’re going to do a nice nature hike and then go out for a team breakfast or something after that.
But today was exciting. The athletes got to have their own opening ceremonies while the others were in Rio. And the cool thing about that is this (Colorado Springs) is every athlete’s hometown. They all live here, they train here, they’re a part of this community. And so for them to have the opportunity to run the torch and hand it off to Bruce Baumgartner, who lit the cauldron, and get introduced in front of their hometown I think was a more fun thing to do than to go to the opening ceremonies in Rio. I really honestly believe that. These guys had a great time and they got to be a part of their community. I heard about this event and I was trying to figure out how we could be a part of it. Actually, the organizers found out and were like, Real Olympians are in town? I said, “Absolutely, genuine articles.” (Laughs) For some reason, they couldn’t believe that real Olympians were still in town when in fact, we had Algeria here training with us as well as Korea.
I know a lot of the nations are still down in other places in South America and haven’t gotten into the village yet, so it’s not as uncommon as people would think. Just in our circles, everybody figures you would walk in the opening ceremonies. But I would say there’s a large majority of athletes who don’t participate in that because they are more focused on performance going in. And I think that’s the attitude of my team. They’re all really focused on what’s going to be the best for their performance.
5PM: Yep, and you’ve mentioned before that the Opening Ceremonies mean you’re on your feet for 12 hours standing in line, waiting to be paraded for perhaps a glimpse on TV. And I also know there’s an emotional component to that, whether it’s parents, family, friends who just want to see you out there, so on and so forth. But the focused aspect to all of this I think is what people are perhaps more interested in. It would seem to me that it’s the most logical thing to do, to skip out and just get there when you have to get there.
ML: Yeah, I think it is. You summed it up, it’s just the logical decision rather than going in early to walk in the opening ceremonies and then do your training there. In reality, this timing for our plan has worked out perfectly, especially since it’s only a three-hour time zone than Rio.
5PM: Then you have the Korean team and members of the Algerian team in Springs. How have those workouts been? Have they been in unison, have they been separated?
ML: The Koreans reached out to us months back and asked us if they could just acclimate here, and wanted to know if they could use our facilities. We informed them that we were still here training. They also brought their freestyle team, but they’re just doing their own thing by themselves. The Korean team wanted to get closer to Rio so they could acclimate time zone-wise. They are leaving Monday, we’re leaving Wednesday. It’s been great, though. I kind of thought they would be doing more of their own program. But for the most part, every time we’ve had a mat workout, they wanted to participate and do what we were doing. Even if they wanted to take one or two of the workouts off or add an extra workout on top of that, they’ve been doing our wrestling workouts with us and it’s the same with Algeria. So it’s been nice having some good international training partners heading over, for sure. That’s about it.
For Algeria, funny story, we didn’t actually know they were coming. They were somewhere in Ohio. And for whatever reason, I don’t know what it was, but they decided to have a training camp in Ohio. The athletes were talking to the director of some sports complex they were training at and asked, “So this is Colorado?” And the guy said, “No, this is Ohio.” (Laughs) The next thing you know, I’m getting a call asking if I can take three Algerian wrestlers and two of their training partners. Three Olympians, glad that worked out. We opened our doors. That’s just the community you’re in, you know? If you’re in the wrestling community, it’s what you do. The guys showed up in Ohio and there’s nobody wrestling Greco in Ohio, so we invited them to come out.
5PM: With a situation like Korea being there, do you keep potential opponents like Kim and Bisek separated, or do they work together?
ML: They’ve mostly been separated. But they have worked out together, as well. It was just one drill, maybe six or eight minutes together. But it was live wrestling. When that happened, all eyes turned to that mat, for sure.
5PM: With the Opening Ceremonies having started a few hours ago tonight, does this feel to you like it has officially began? Or will you feel that way once you arrive in Rio?
Coach Matt Lindland: No, it feels like it has officially begun, the Games. But I think it’s important we just stick to our plan. We don’t really need to think it began because we’re going in for a tournament. You know, we’re not necessarily going for the “Games experience.” That’s for after our tournament. So we’re heading over for a tournament. I think that is the right attitude to have going in right now.