Dustin Woods: The US coach inspiring China’s speed skaters at the Winter Olympics

That was definitely the case for Dustin Woods and his spouse Allyse in 2011 when confronted with the alternative to pack their luggage and prepare Chinese language athletes in Beijing.

They by no means might have imagined all that China would have in retailer for them.

What would it not appear to be to take that leap of religion?

Fortuitously for China, Woods didn’t have a lot time to query the different.

One resume, two interviews and three weeks later, the Ohio native discovered himself in Beijing as the head energy and conditioning coach of Group China’s brief observe speed skaters.

Three years of intense coaching later, they have been certain for the video games in Sochi.

The 2014 Winter Olympics have been very fruitful for Woods and Group China — two gold medals, three silver and one bronze between the women and men’s groups.

Whereas China did not take dwelling the most gold medals, they did return with the most medals of their sport.

Little did Woods know that his China journey was solely simply starting, even when common life in Ohio resumed after he and his spouse got here dwelling to the US.

He resumed working for Ignition APG as a coach for elite athletes and the couple welcomed their daughter Zoe in the summer season.

All indicators pointed to rising their household stateside, however the couple shortly felt the calling to return to Beijing.

“We didn’t plan on coming again for the second spherical,” Woods mentioned, “however clearly issues labored out.”

“I despatched a coach [to China] from Ignition to the Chinese language crew for a yr attempting to get him to remain on, however the head coach continued to ask us to return again throughout that point.

“We had some actually deep connections with quite a lot of the athletes right here. That was primarily the purpose we got here again. We simply felt led to return again once more, like we did the first time.”

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‘I really feel like a proud father’

So the Woods household returned to Beijing and Group China shortly obtained again to work.

They skilled six days per week, generally for 12 hours a day, decided to attain much more than they’d in Sochi.

That coaching has already begun to repay.

Now in Pyeongchang, China wasted no time setting a brand new Olympic document in the semifinals for the quickest time in the ladies’s 3000-metre brief observe speed skating relay.

“That was a fantastic crew win,” Woods mentioned, “and that is what we’re all about — profitable as a crew.

“It was a really proud second as a result of you understand they’ve labored so laborious. I am often calm, cool and picked up in the stands. Right here at the video games I am simply not myself; I am leaping round and pumping my fist.”

Objective-driven coach

Woods’ teaching philosophy relies on supporting and inspiring the athletes he works with — a case of carrot reasonably than stick — and it is an method that is derived from his spiritual religion.

“Coming to the athletes in a unique method reasonably than encourage them by worry,” Woods defined.

“That worth of instructing, studying and educating the athletes in a number of alternative ways, not simply bodily, however mentally and spiritually, is completely different in the Chinese language tradition.

“It has been very useful for me to deliver the manner that I coach and the manner I’ve discovered to deal with folks to a spot the place that is not typical, and that is actually benefited our athletes.”

Working carefully with 24 athletes means strong bonds are shaped and it doesn’t take lengthy for a second household to type.

Zoe has picked up Chinese language along with studying English, and enormously enjoys spending time with the crew.

The shared instances make the goodbyes far tougher, although.

“I keep in mind leaving the first time and simply crying,” Woods joked, “this time I remembered to deliver sun shades.

“I do know this time after we go away that we’ll see these athletes once more, however it is vitally bittersweet.”

Whereas he is undecided what life after the 2018 Olympics will maintain, the Woods household are sure that any leap of religion will hold them on strong floor.

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