Mete’s Olympic gold won in training, not the arena?

What does it take to lift an Olympic gold medal? 

There’s an obvious answer – it’s no secret that the world’s best athletes simply train harder and, crucially, prepare better.

In a recent interview for World Archery, recently-minted Olympic Champion Mete Gazoz spoke eloquently about how much preparation went into the few minutes he had on the field in Japan. And the critical moments that made him the winner in Yumenoshima Park.

We won the gold medal because of what we did in training, not because of what I did there on the field,” he said.

Gazoz made his Olympic debut in Rio as a 17-year-old.

There wasn’t much expected of the youngster and his second-round exit was neither a surprise nor a travesty at the time. Framed in the context of hindsight, it means much, much more.

I learned a lot from my defeat in Rio. I [arrived in Japan with] more self-confidence,” says Mete. “We simulated our training to withstand as much stress as possible and stay mentally strong.”

Visualisation, the Turkish archer explains, played a pivotal role in the lead-up to his second Games.

This time on the Olympic stage, Mete really looked like he belonged.

Never was this more evident than in his match against world number one and reigning World Archery Champion Brady Ellison. In a screenshot that has become something of a meme from the Games, Gazoz can be seen grinning in the background while Ellison, who was one of the favourites in Tokyo, draws his bow.

Mete explains the smile was borne from a mixture of happiness at the situation – and a concerted approach to gaining the upper hand, mentally.

“You have to establish psychological superiority there,” he says, adding that the small crowd of supporters for his opponent in the stands were exceptionally vocal, cheering loudly after each of the US archer’s arrows.

“I noticed they screamed a little too much,” Gazoz continues.

“I started laughing, trying to achieve superiority against both those in the stands and Brady.”

It worked. Gazoz would defeat Brady in the last eight and go on to beat Mauro Nespoli in the individual final to win the Olympic Champion title, taking Turkey’s first-ever medal in the archery competitions at the Games in the process.

Watch the full Olympic Champion interview on YouTube.