In March of 2020, Olympian and Head to Head mentor Max Lattimer was preparing for the Tokyo Games, as the pandemic was setting its roots in Canada and around the globe.
This past month, Max Lattimer qualified for his second Olympic Games, and is now in the final stages of preparing to compete at the Tokyo Games this summer. Max has been mentoring Head to Head groups across Canada virtually between his rigorous training sessions, and we're thrilled to be supporting him on his journey to Tokyo.
This is his story!
In early 2020, at Elk Lake in Victoria, BC, where Max Lattimer and the rest of the national rowing team trains, the upcoming competitions were written on a white board:
- World cup 1
- World cup 2
- Olympic qualifier
- World cup 3
- Olympics Games
As March 2020 hurled its tough realities at the world, Rowing Canada head coach Dick Tonks, would walk up to the board and simply cross out the most recently cancelled event before leading the teams through their training session for the day, forging forward with big Olympic plans.
First it was just World Cup 1 at the top of the list with a line through it. Shortly after, more lines through the next events would show up, signalling their cancellation.
As the covid-19 global pandemic became more and more apparent, uncertainty grew, and the next piece of information the rowers received was a huge blow
The Canadian Olympic Committee announced that they would not be sending an Olympic team to the Tokyo 2020 Games without a rescheduled date.
A decision made for the health and safety of the country, and the athletes set to compete at the Games.
In an instant, Max's Olympic dreams came crashing down. "I didn't even know how I felt" said Max.
24 hours later, the IOC officially delayed the Tokyo Olympic Games. A relief to some Canadian athletes who, the day prior, thought the Games may happen without them.
Max's optimistic self saw the postponement as an incredible opportunity. “Extra training!” He thought.
Head coach Dick Tonks started working with the Canadian Rowers in 2017, one year into the quadrennial leading up to Tokyo. When the Tokyo Olympics were postponed Max and his teammates deliberately chose to have a positive outlook on the situation.
"We always joked about what it would be like to have Dick Tonks for the full quadrennial
and --- now it happened"
This high-performance athlete mindset, led Max to some really hard solo training over the months in isolation that followed. When the boathouses, and training venues in Canada shut down, Max had extra energy and continued to view all of this as an opportunity to top up his fitness in preparation for the, now postponed, Tokyo Olympics. His approach was to do what he could to get himself in a better spot for those Games. But after one month of going full throttle on the gas pedal alone, Max started to feel burnt out
While reflecting on how he felt, he immediately recognized that without his teammates, and support staff around him on a daily basis, he needed to ease up a bit and focus on the long game so that by the time his training centre did open again, he'd be ready.
By July 1st, 2020 Max and his teammates were able to get back to training at Elk lake with many new health protocols in place. Fast forward to May 2021 and Max and his partner, along with 3 other boats have qualified themselves for the Tokyo 2020 Games set to kick off in July 2021!
While training for the Olympic qualifiers, Max has been working with Head to Head and leading virtual sessions with schools and athlete groups across the country.
Being a Head to Head mentor has helped boost Max's confidence and grown his fanbase. After qualifying for the Olympics, Max heard from teachers and athletes that he's mentored over the past several months.
By sharing his experiences and perspectives coping with the challenges of the Covid 19 Pandemic, Max has allowed many people to feel validated. He has helped normalize the feelings that seem to accompany the past 14 months for so many; a little more anxious, slightly down, and a bit burnt out. This pandemic is tough, and Max finds comfort in being able to chat with others about these challenges. Max shares strategies that have helped him get through, and touches on tips to help manage nerves, stress and anxiety in general.
Beyond some basic breathing techniques, Max continues to spend time exploring other mindfulness practices and meditation to ensure that when big challenges or nerves sneak up on him, he's prepared to manage them and get back to enjoying life!
From the whole Head to Head community, we can’t wait to watch Max and the rest of Team Canada compete at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Go Canada Go!