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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - When any athlete begins competing at a high level, pressure enters the equation. For Jake Kaminski, an Olympic medalist and World Champion, the trick is balancing the pressure he puts on himself to succeed with the need to take care of himself, even when competing.
"I am extremely happy with how my 2014 season went after such a rocky start during the indoor season," the Gainesville-based archer explained on social media. "I had to take a step back and re-evaluate how I was performing, what my downfalls were, and what I was doing before that I wasn't doing any more, that made me shoot better in the past."
Kaminski says that he made progress throughout the year, in almost every tournament he competed in, showing him that he was on the right track with his changes: "I had shot a lot of consistently higher scores in both the ranking and elimination rounds, resulting in higher finishing places than before."
However, the Olympic medalist learned a valuable, difficult lesson this season: listening to one's body is a must when competing.
"Although I had continued to make progress, there came a point where my body was telling me to stop just before the World [Archery] Field Championships. I wouldn't listen because my head wanted to keep pushing, [and I still had the desire to train to win]."
Kaminski's stubbornness cost him, resulting in a neck injury from over-use, the inability to train the way he wanted for the World Cup Final, and ultimately may have affected his finish in that prestigious event.
"I've realized that no matter how good your training plan is, it will eventually be only as strong as the weakest link of your game," he notes. "As soon as I shot that first arrow for score I could tell that my body was not as ready as my head was."
Kaminski, who was edged out by Brazilian rising star Marcus D'Almeida, noted that the Final was a valuable learning experience: "I had a great time. This was my first Finals competing, despite qualifying outside the top 7 because one of the Korean archers declined. I was happy to represent you at the Final and hope to do it again with better results!"
Today was Kaminski's first day back in training, and it was a success by all accounts. "Back at it," he tweeted. "#dailygrind #archery little tuning tweaks for @usaarchery #texasshootout."
Follow Jake's journey as he heads to next week's Texas Shootout, the final USAT Qualifier Series event of 2014.
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