An online course has been developed for coaches in athletics clubs so that they can see more quickly when an athlete is eating wrong. The association hopes that the information will also reach other associations via the comprehensive sports organization NOCNSF, so that a national approach can be taken to the problem that also occurs in other sports.
Running and triathlon coach Rob Fair contributed to the unit. Two years ago, he knocked on the door of various guilds in Holland and Belgium with a plan of action, but there was little or no interest from the fifteen guilds to which he sent his cries for help. They will be afraid of the negative image if you find out that there are all kinds of problems in your sport. You hear such stories regularly. Then everyone shouts “Woe, woe again” and we continue with today’s lineup.
In response to abuses in the world of gymnastics, an investigation into cross-border behavior in the entire major Dutch sport was recently announced. Eating disorders are also taken into account. According to Veer, these issues are everywhere, especially in endurance sports where it pays to be light and in sports where you have weight classes, such as rowing and judo.
The Wastenburg story was important to the athletics federation to free up the financial resources to do something with it. Wastenburg is one of the best long distance runners in the Netherlands. For years she felt like she needed to be as light as possible in order to perform well. She weighed at her lowest point 55 kilograms with a height of 1.80 m, and less than eight years ago she suffered from depression and injuries due to hormonal imbalance.
Westenberg’s story does not stand alone. The controversy over the ill effects of malnutrition in America has erupted over the promise of Mary Kane, who is now seeking €17 million in damages against her former coach Alberto Salazar. The controversial athletic trainer is said to have weighed Cain in front of the group so the rest of us could see her weight. Cain was reprimanded for not being skinny enough and eating so little that she hadn’t had a period for three years. She broke five bones due to osteoporosis as a result of her poor diet.
Great Queens, the national middle-distance athletics coach, says malnutrition is very common in major sports. She herself sees approximately four to six cases annually in very thin athletes, both men and women. According to Koons, things often go wrong at the level before athletes break the absolute top. I now have two players in my group who had an eating disorder with a former coach. It’s going well now, but you can see that they’re still struggling with a few things. A girl left me because I cared about her so much. You have to undergo a change in behavior to get rid of it.
The upgraded course now contains examples of how you as a coach can signal that an athlete engages in unhealthy food. Queens choose this kind of thing. If the percentage of fat is too low, a layer can form under the hair on the body. The body tries to isolate itself in a different way. Head hair is often thin as well and you can see a very clear muscle pattern. Sometimes there are hardly any muscles because the body is eating itself.
Malnutrition also changes behaviour. Athletes who eat too little can lose their emotional balance and develop symptoms of depression. “They would also be weird with food. If you put something tasty on the table and someone suddenly has to take the bus to get it, you know it’s in the bush.”
Ask about your menstrual cycle
Queens has changed its approach over the years. Women who come to train with her immediately ask if they have had their period. If not, it could be a sign that something is wrong. When measuring, you ask the boys not to share their fat percentage with each other, because what’s healthy for you varies from person to person. Sometimes you see guys who pride themselves on 5 percent fat. Don’t, because others may copy it and think that’s the norm. While 7 or 8 percent may be better for someone else.
The queens are thrilled when you get the little ones who have a little bacon on their bones. “That’s just an advantage. Because they weigh more, they learn to walk more vigorously. They recover better. You shouldn’t look at the weight of young pigeons at all. Just don’t weigh them, I’ll say.”
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