Flying high with Lydia Lassila
The Olympic aerials gold medallist and Suzuki ambassador on life as a champion (and mum).
What are the challenges you face managing life as a full-time athlete, mum and business owner?
There’s no easy way to equally divide my attention across all aspects of my life. It isn’t one-dimensional. I have a family, I’m an elite athlete and I run my business, Body Ice (my ice and compression system for injuries). So, I just try to prioritise my time as best I can.
The most difficult challenge, especially leading into an Olympics, is that my sport takes me all around the globe, nine or 10 months of the year. The preparation and training is constant, which means I need to rely on my husband and family to step in and help look after Kai when I’m training, to make sure he’s happy, healthy and loved. I have an amazing support team and without them behind me, all of this would just be a pipedream.
How valuable will your past experiences be going into the 2014 Olympics?
Sochi will be my fourth Olympics, so I know what to expect, what I need to do and what type of mental state I need to be in to perform at my best. I know who my competitors are and what jumps they will most likely perform, and I know what it takes to win. It’s not as simple as replicating what I did at the last Olympics, but it’s important to draw on the experiences I’ve had and use them to create an unwavering belief that I can do it all again.
?Some people would ask ‘why put yourself through it all again?’…
I often ask the same question, especially on difficult days! Sport has always been a vehicle for me to test my capacity in every sense of the word. It has pushed me physically, it has strained me emotionally, it has broken me mentally, but somehow, I’ve been able to pick myself up and find a way to pursue my dreams and achieve amazing things. It all comes down to motivation and believing a goal is worth pursuing. It must be important. When I break my goals down, I emphasise WHY they are important to me. Even today, my reasons are as strong as they were 10 years ago, which is why I am still motivated to continue. I want to leave my mark on the sport forever and be the best I can be. It’s as simple as that, really!
What’s it like living life on the (global) road, particularly with little Kai?
We definitely live an unconventional lifestyle. We’re constantly in and out of suitcases, airplanes and hotels. Kai has grown up around so many people in many different countries and watches his mum launch herself off enormous jumps all day long. He’s been a regular in the gym since he was three weeks old, he understands when mummy needs physio and has experienced so much in his two years of life. His grandparents are an amazing help and often travel with me to training camps when my husband can’t, so there are many parental figures taking shifts in Kai’s life. It may seem crazy to most people, but Kai is happy, he is worldly and there is never a dull moment in his life!
When did you decide to defend your title or was it always a foregone conclusion?
After the medal ceremony in Vancouver, I was sitting in my hotel room staring at my gold medal. For the first time in 24 hours, I was alone, reflecting on what I had achieved. There was a question in my head that kept popping up: ‘is this it?’. My immediate response was ‘NO’. I realised very quickly that there was more I wanted to achieve and that I wasn’t ready to call it quits.
Follow Lydia’s latest adventures at lydialassila.com.au