When the digital super highway of information meets four 2012 Women’s Track Cycling Olympic hopefuls a new age in Olympic training is born!
By: Adrienne Vaught
This is what it means to be an Olympian! Hard work and tons of heart! For these four athletes their spouses and supporters it was a ride they will never forget. At a time when Women’s Track Cycling had been taking a back seat to the Men’s Track Cycling team along with Lance Armstrong and his ilk there wasn’t much time or funding for these incredible female athletes. That all changed when the hammer came down on the scandal that rocked the US Men’s cycling team for doping. All focus and hopes now shifted gears to these four 2012 Olympic hopefuls with little to no support team and even less funding. Could they rise to the challenge? “Personal Gold” had its world Premiered At The 2015 Seattle International Film Festival. In this documentary film by Tamara Christopherson – “Personal Gold” we see the journey, heart and resourcefulness of four incredible athletes Dotsie Bausch, Sarah Hammer, Lauren Tamayo and Jennie Reed their spouses and a vision. A new way to train through the ‘digital health’ model researched by Dr. Eric Topal and brought to the public’s attention by Sky Christopherson with great success. With their eyes on the prize, total dedication, sacrifice and a never before seen mishmash team of husbands, software engineers, Navy Seals, one coach and Olympic alumni, they reached for the sky and caught the stars!
I was privileged to speak with the film’s director and 2000 Olympic alum Tamara Christopherson to talk about this film.
Adrienne Vaught: When you started this new ‘digital health’ model with Jennie, Dotsie and Sarah we notice in the film there are a lot of questions and doubts on their faces. How did you and the team deal with getting them on board and participating.
Tamara Christopherson: (Laughs) Yes, that was a challenge but they were willing to try anything and they had seen how it worked for another athlete and member of our team Sky (Christopherson). Data is empowering! When you know what your strengths and weaknesses are you are much more able to direct your energies in those directions. Play to your strengths and work out your “weak spots”.
AV: What were some of the “weak spots” for some of the women?
TC: Because Jennie (Reed) is a crossover from sprint cycling she had a lot of power and dense muscle so we had to focus on her diet. The Blood Glucose Tracker was a game changer for her. For Dotsie it was the Pulse and Blood Oxygen Tracker that really helped for her.
AV: Because there was so little financial support and attention for these athletes how did you bring together such a great as well as diverse team?
TC: The power of the Olympics is that it is a unifying event! When we said we needed help and put the call out we got such amazing response. Everyone on our team was very unique and brought something to the group no one else could have! We are very proud of that!
AV: How did you deal with the team knowing they were the “underdogs” so to speak? How did you keep them from believing that in their minds?
TC: Even with all the physical and digital data the one thing that cannot be measured is the “heart”. The heart is unquantifiable. When you work for something outside of yourself, now that is the magic moment.
AV: What were you hoping to show the public by making this documentary film?
TC: First, I wanted to shine the light on the amazing journey of these women athletes, their team and accomplishments. Second, I wanted to start the “health” conversation. We now have this amazing ability to track our own heath BEFORE we get ill. Be proactive, not reactive. It is a new way of looking at health care and the healthcare system.
AV: After the astounding success of the 2012 Women’s Track Cycling team and the new training model that was created for them, what have the responses and effects been?
TC: The year after the 2012 Olympics that saw their success we saw 50 teams of women show up wanting to compete! There has been an upper level reprioritization of funds (more money) to Women’s Track Cycling. Sarah Hammer’s husband is now the head coach. The British team is now looking at this new training model and the United States is leading the way.
Thank you so much Tamara! I am not sure if we could ask for a better ending to this story or a better long term outlook for those looking to compete in this sport. The conversation has now been started going forward into the future with a new way to look at health and wellness both for Olympic athletes and all us mere mortals. We thank you for letting us share in this journey of heart and inspiration. When we think of giving up, and giving in, when we think it’s a losing battle and the odds are stacked against us. We will look to your story and remember to never give up. [TAOMR]
Personal Gold 88 min
Director: Tamara Christopherson