Monthly Archive for March, 2023

ISSP Master Class Series on sport excellence



New Date: Thursday, May 11th, 2023
Speaker: Prof. Gangyan Si and Prof. Kristoffer Henriksen
Title: Excellence in working with Olympic Athletes and Coaches: two cases from China and Denmark
Length of Session: 75 minutes (45-minute lecture, 30-minute Q&A)
Time: 12:00 UTC (Chicago 7:00, Sao Paulo 9:00, London 13:00, Beijing 20:00, Tokyo 21:00)
Where: Zoom

Program Overview
Recent sport psychology literature highlights the importance of developing and implementing service delivery practices grounded in the cultural and contextual frameworks within which practitioners and their clients perform. Two successful examples of excellence in delivering contextually grounded practice are represented in the work of Prof. Gangyan Si and Prof. Kristoffer Henriksen and with elite coaches and athletes. Gangyan is a sport psychologist for Team China, an Asian international sports superpower. Gangyan will present what he experienced and learned working with top Chinese athletes and coaches during the past five Olympics Games. Kristoffer has been a sport psychologist for Team Denmark since 2008. Located in Western Europe, despite being one of the smallest countries in the world, Denmark has experienced great success at the international level. Kristoffer will present what he experienced and learned while supporting Danish athletes and coaches on-site during the London, Rio, and Tokyo Olympic Games. In this Master Class, Gangyan and Kristoffer will share stories, insights, and reflections from their work, while offering insight into differences and similarities in their work and how they are rooted in different cultures and contexts as well as personal preferences.

About The Speaker

Gangyan Si is a senior sport psychologist at the Hong Kong Sports Institute and a professor at the Wuhan Sports University in China. Gangyan is a certified psychologist and has been appointed as an expert by the Chinese Olympic Committee for providing psychological services for the 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020 Olympic Games for different Chinese Olympic teams. Over the years, Gangyan has also worked directly with different Hong Kong teams providing sport psychology services and traveling with the teams for Olympic Games, Asian Games, and World Championships. Gangyan’sresearch interests include applied sport psychology service, cultural sport psychology, and athlete mental health and mindfulness training.

Kristoffer Henriksen is a professor at the Institute of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics at the University of Southern Denmark. Kristoffer’s research in sport psychology takes a holistic approach and explores the social relations among athletes and how they influence development and performance, with an emphasis on successful talent development environments. He also acts as a sport psychology practitioner in Team Denmark (a national elite sports institution). In this role, Kristoffer focuses on developing mentally strong athletes, coaches, and high-performance cultures within Denmark’s national teams. Kristoffer has supported athletes at numerous championships and three Olympic Games.

Program Format
Attendees can participate in an ISSP Master Class session right from their office or home. Registrants will be provided the Zoom link upon registration to access the presentation right on the web in real time. If you are unable to watch the session live, a recording will be provided afterward to all registrants.

Vivicittà: the greatest race in the world


It started in 1983 promoted by UISP and has not stopped since. The “greatest race in the world” continues to be the great protagonist of sports for all, embracing in a single, original formula, professional athletes and Sunday sportsmen with the competitive 10km in addition to the recreational motor walk in many Italian and foreign cities, departure for all at the same time, single ranking based on compensated times. And every year, a theme to fight for: peace, human rights, environmental respect, social equality, solidarity among peoples. So that freedom (to run) is not a privilege of the few.

Let us then follow together some of the most significant stages:

1984 - “Italy, ready, go!”: after the prologue in Perugia in 1983, the Vivicittà adventure starts. 30 thousand people run simultaneously in twenty Italian cities to defend the historic centers. In the Rome trial, the overall winners, both Russians, Vladimir Kotov and 26-year-old Palina Gregorenko, impose themselves.

1986 - Vivicittà lands in New York launching a message of friendship and solidarity among people. Participants grow to 60,000. The route is reduced to 12 km to standardize the courses and make the compensated rankings more truthful. The overall winners are running in Rome: Britain’s Tim Hutchings and Italy’s Anna Villani.

1989 - Vivicittà runs with a mask. A system to detect pollution levels during physical activity is tested in Rome by having some athletes run with a special mask. On the occasion of the European Year for Combating Cancer, a vademecum of rules for prevention is distributed to all participants. 80 thousand athletes run in the 33 Italian and 7 foreign venues. Salvatore Antibo wins over all, winning for the second consecutive time in Palermo.

1990 - after the fall of the wall, the event is in reunified Berlin. Record number of cities entered: 34 in Italy and 7 abroad: in addition to Berlin, Seville, Barcelona, New York, Budapest, Lisbon, Brussels. The winner runs in Siena and is Rwandan Ntawulikura while the German capital gives the female winner, Uta Pipping.

2000 -With everyone’s reasons for everyone’s rights” is the message accompanying Vivicittà in its debut in Baghdad. Roman marathon runner Giuseppe Papaluca walks the 1,000 km from Amman to Baghdad to bring a message of peace. Catania reintroduces compensated winners with Kenyan Robert Kipchumba and Italian Agata Balsamo.

2008 - two more iconic cities united by Vivicittà’s message. Running in Beirut and Bucharest in the name of tolerance and integration. 70 thousand athletes participate in the 40 Italian cities. Victory goes to Kenyan Philemon Kipketer Serem and Italian Renate Rungger.

2011 - runs in the name of 150 years of the Unification of Italy. 100 thousand runners at the start in 38 Italian cities and 16 around the world. Vivicittà also involves 17 penitentiary and juvenile institutions and the Palestinian camps in Lebanon, as the concluding event of the Palestiniadi. Among the winners, absolute primacy to Africans with Moroccans Khalid Ghallab among men and Hafida Izem among women.

2016 - #Freetomove, the theme of Vivicittà 2016 was related to welcoming and the social value of sport, which manages to overcome geographical and social borders. The symbolic place of this edition – which saw 60,000 participants in 43 Italian cities and 11 in the world – was Lampedusa.

2022 - after a two-year stop caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Vivicittà returns throughout Italy, with a special dedication to Peace. Vivicittà – the race for peace, gathers 20,000 participants in 30 Italian cities.

The uncomfortable truths said by Mancini and Marchegiani

Roberto Mancini and Luca Marchegiani told the truth, the situation in Italian soccer is desperate. It is a situation without solutions if one is forced to summon foreign athletes de facto, as they have trained and play abroad but with Italian passports.

The alternative is to summon youngsters who play in leagues lower than Serie A, so as Marchegiani points out the concept of merit is lacking, in fact “the national team was a point of arrival, now Mancini has to call up rookies.”

The problems to talk about would be too many and I get a headache just thinking about them. One out of all of them that has not been talked about concerns the issue of what interest foreign ownership of teams has in promoting Italian players when you can win by having 11 foreigners on the field as well. In Serie A alone there are as many as 7 foreign owners, accounting for 35% of the total. In Europe, only in Germany is there not this phenomenon, which in the Premiere League has reached 75% of ownership.

We are witnessing a clash of different cultures, where those with economic power will win. There is no more time for the discovery and formation of the heritage represented by young people playing soccer, interest has shifted only to the result of the teams, which in turn is independent of the function of the youth sector. Those with economic power can choose players for their teams all over the world, why should they pay attention to a narrower market?

Data on the escape of the Italian graduates

  • One million Italians expatriated between 2012 and 2021. 250,000 were graduated.
  • In 2012, 5 percent of all college graduates left, then up to 8.9 percent in 2018 and down again to 6.7 percent in 2021. Almost two points higher, then, than ten years ago.
  • Italian graduates who emigrated abroad earn 41.8 percent more a year after graduation than those who stayed in Italy.
  • The North compensates for the exits by attracting young people from the South; the South is stuck with the dry loss of talent. A double wave that tests the resilience of the entire country.
  • The “university desertification of the South” is taking place, points out economist Gaetano Vecchione: “In 2041 the South will lose 27 percent of enrollment, the Center-North about 20 percent. Between denatality, low school-to-university transition rates and migration in 2021, the gap between North-Center and South marked a difference of 80 thousand matriculated students. In the past 20 years, about 1.2 million young people have left the Mezzogiorno, 1 in 4 are college graduates. In 2020 alone there were 67 thousand and the share of graduates rose to 40 percent.”  (Fonte: Sole 24 Ore)

Always, go Berrettini

I enjoyed Matteo Berrettini’s interview with Paolo Rossi on He talks about how he lives this difficult time, love, his injuries and tennis. What he says represents his reality and how he lives this phase of his career. He is open and direct and maybe that is why others do not like him and then attack him , for the sake of criticizing. It is a common behavior in our country to viciously attack people who have achieved success because of their abilities. In this sea of mediocrity, many live by waiting for the winners to get in trouble so that they can rejoice by criticizing them.

It may be trite but I don’t think so to say that, on the contrary, we should all be proud to be represented by these guys who, regardless of their successes, are an example of dedication and commitment and I hope emulation for many others.

I would like to know the stories of those who criticize, to understand the origins of these ideas and the compelling desire to have to express them in public form.

However, “Always, go Berrettini.”

Final warning on climate crisis

Scientists: ‘final warning’ on climate crisis.

  • Growing greenhouse gas emissions = world on brink of irrevocable damage, only quick and drastic action needed.
  • Climate crisis knowledge: eight years of work, hundreds of scientists, thousands of pages = single message, act now, or it will be too late.
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres: “This report is a clarion call to massively accelerate climate efforts by every country, every sector, every time. Our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, at once.”
  • The world is already devastated:. extreme weather conditions caused by climate change have resulted in increased deaths from intensifying heat waves in all regions, millions of lives and homes destroyed by droughts and floods, millions of people going hungry, and increasingly irreversible losses in vital ecosystems
  • Monday’s latest chapter, called the synthesis report, will almost certainly be the last such assessment while the world still has a chance to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the threshold beyond which our climate damage will quickly become irreversible
  • Kaisa Kosonen, climate expert at Greenpeace International: “This report is definitely a final warning about 1.5C. If governments continue to follow current policies, the remaining carbon budget will be exhausted before 2030.”
  • 3 billion people already live in areas “highly vulnerable” to climate change, and half the world’s population suffers from severe water shortages for at least part of the year. Climate extremes are “increasingly driving displacement” of people in Africa, Asia, North, Central and South America, and the South Pacific.
  • These effects are likely to increase rapidly.
  • Hope to stay within 1.5°C. Hoesung Lee said, “This synthesis report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that if we act now, we can still ensure a sustainable and livable future for all.”
  • Guterres: governments must implement drastic actions to reduce emissions ,invest in renewable energy and low-carbon technologies and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions “as close to 2040 as possible,” without waiting for the 2050 deadline that most have signed up to.

“Climbing Mount Everest is work for supermen”

On March 18, 1923, an article in the New York Times headlined “Climbing Mount Everest is work for supermen.”

Specifically, the article asked what was the reason for climbing it, given also the failed attempts in 1921 and 1922. The question was posed to George Mallory, who had participated in both expeditions and was preparing to be part of the group that would make a third attempt in 1924. The answer given by the explorer became famous and continues to be famous today exactly 100 years later. In fact, Mallory replied, “Because it’s there.” He was also asked, if the scientific results obtained were not enough. “Yes … but do you think Schackelton went to the South Pole to make scientific observations? He used the observations he made to finance the next trip. Sometimes scientific research is an excuse for exploration. I think it is rarely the reason. Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and no man has ever made it to the top. Its existence is a challenge. The response is instinctive and I think it is part of man’s desire to conquer the universe.”

How top marathoners motivate themselves

Some top marathoners seem to make greater use of awareness of the work done. Rethinking the training they’ve done and from these exeperiences come the confidence and motivation.

  • I think back to the work I have done previously, the fact that I worked well and then I should not be afraid to fail.
  • First of all, being aware that the difficult times occur every season and are always lurking. After that, I know how to do, that it’s to identify the mistakes, I assess them and I try to work hard to correct them.

For other the goal setting strategies are the basis of their experiences and skill to motivate themselves.

  • Definitely stands out in me the patience, precision and strong determination. If I set a goal there is nothing that can distract me from the work to achieve it. Maybe I’ve always had that ability, but then I also improved by the training and in general with experience. Among the people who have helped me to develop such features are first of all my mother but then also my coach and my husband, which in my case coincide.

For others, it seem to dominate more the emotional component in driving motivation.

  • I find the more emotional impulses thinking about how important and pleasant is to reach the goal. The goal achievement acts for me to greater motivator.
  • The positive moments give me the awareness hat I have the resources and abilities to do it, then, they represent moments to recharge myself and to point to the next goal.

The marathon meaning

Today the Rome Marathon is being run. At events like these many people ask me what a marathon is and what pleasure there is in running all those miles.

This thought by Mauro Covacich, writer and runner, is one possible explanation.

“The marathon is a kind of permanent belief: it is enough to have run it just once to feel like a marathon runner for life. Kind of like psychoanalysis. Yes, I consider it a form of martial art, an inner discipline. It inherently is. For the training it requires, for the way it leads you to perceive the environment, for the effort it demands of your body. The marathon runner is a samurai with slippers instead of a sword: he is extremely strict towards himself, he never forgives himself, he is constantly fighting his own limits… Those who think of the marathon as a sporting choice are wrong; it is a maximally aesthetic discipline. It is really a worldview: it is not just those forty-two kilometers to run in the shortest possible time, it is the idea of enduring, of going beyond…”
(Mauro Covacich)

The sport system do not support lifelong participation

The new season of major marathons in European capitals and around the world begins. This occasion brings to the forefront a little-addressed issue in scientific research and in the world of sports, which refers to the training of adults (the over35s) and in particular the masters athletes who build the largest group of marathon entrants and encapsulate every age group of adulthood up to and beyond the over80s.

It is the already large age group of sports practitioners enclosed in a period that covers more than 50 years. There are well-established age-related beliefs that can be summarized in the following concept: adults do not improve and are limited to social and fitness activities in their free time. It has been found that this age belief can lead coaches to believe that it is not necessary to coach master athletes. Do we still demand quality coaching if young athletes do not become Olympians or professionals? Yes, of course. Therefore, quality coaching should be an intrinsic feature of master sports and older adult sports.

Recently Bettina Callary, Editor-in-Chief of the International Sport Coaching Journal wrote about this issue and which I have summarized in the following points:

  1. Much of the research in sport is geared towards high performance or youth sport participation.
  2. The LTD uses a rectangular diagram to outline a framework for developmental pathways in sport and physical activity. It depicts a large section devoted to Active for Life, as an alternative to the Podium Pathway towards high performance. This is excellent, as it includes the large number of people (including adults and older adults) who are not on the trajectory toward podium performances at the highest level of sport yet continue to engage in sport and physical activity.
  3. However, while the LTD acknowledges aging adults as an underserviced and under-supported group within the sport and physical activity ecosystem, the information in the framework itself is mostly associated with children, youth, and young adults.
  4. Adult development in sport is often focused on becoming coaches or officials, joining the board of directors for the youth sport team or club, fundraising and volunteering.
  5. While there are recreational adult sports that most often do not have coaches, in Masters sport the coaches can play important roles.
  6. Masters sport is defined as sport events, leagues, and competitions for adults typically over 35 years of age (although this differs based on the sport and can be as young as 18 years old). Within this cohort of more serious-minded adult athletes, effective coaches play an important role in meeting athletes’ psychosocial needs and validating their decision to pursue sport.