Some of our top Rio-bound athletes reveal their wellbeing secrets.
Fitness M.O.: Plyometrics, the ‘1000 Steps Walk’ in Dandenong Ranges
Wind-down secret: Haruki Murakami novels
Carmen Marton really is the epitome of a fighter. Leaving the London 2012 Games empty-handed has only driven Australia’s first world taekwondo champ to go for gold in Rio. Oh, and she’ll be fighting alongside her sister, Caroline, and fiance, Safwan Khalil (they’ve also qualified for the Olympic team). Carmen kicks arse. Literally.
“Our training is a mix of strength and conditioning work, taekwondo-specific fitness, technique and tactics work, and sparring. We do a lot of plyometrics: explosive movements such as double-leg jumps, single-leg jumps, tuck jumps… we jump off things and go into kicks. It looks ninja-like but it’s actually pretty hard work.
My sister, Caroline, and I do ‘punch on’ in class, but never in competition – we compete in different weight categories so we can both make the team. We also fight the boys in training, but my fiance, Saf, and I are banned from fighting each other as it gets too competitive and heated!”
“I eat healthily 90 per cent of the time. We were brought up on European breads [Carmen’s parents emigrated from Poland] so for breakfast I’ll have rye and caraway bread, cheeses, tomato, gherkins and egg. Sometimes I have oats with LSA, chia and fruit. Lunch is a sandwich or salad and I’ll snack on fruit and nuts. Dinner is always red meat, chicken or fish with vegies. As much as I try not to, I always end up having a bit of chocolate.
I need to gain a couple of kilos of muscle mass before Rio, so I’ve got more energy to lift more weight.”
“The most successful people in this sport are mentally tough and resilient. They don’t give up. My sister just qualified for her first Olympics after 12 years.
I’ve battled fatigue and had a wrist reconstruction. Me being in Melbourne and my partner in Sydney has added a lot of emotional stress, but it’s the goal of gold at Rio that gets me through. In London, I was so close to getting a medal and came away with nothing. As soon as I stepped off the mat, I was only more determined. It takes blood, sweat and tears, and not just yours – your family, partner and coaches all sacrifice something to help you achieve your dream. As hard and unfortunate as it is, that’s what it takes.
This will be my last Olympics. After 22 years of taekwondo (16 representing Australia), it’s time to pass the baton. I’ve thought about crossing over to Ultimate Fighting Championship. I have an exercise and sports science degree but I’d love to go into exercise rehab or physiotherapy and work with children with disabilities. Or coach women in taekwondo. And study art! It’ll be sad to retire, but if I fill my life with new adventures, I’ll be OK.”
My Olympic moment
“In Beijing in 2008, Taiwan’s Su Li-wen had a torn ACL, but she kept fighting on one leg. She hit the mat 11 times but kept getting up; you could see her agony. She was eventually carried off by her coach and finished fifth. I had tears in my eyes, it was so inspiring.”