At 36-years of age and with more than 360 caps to his name, Matías Paredes is definitely a hockey player who knows what it takes to get to, and stay at, the top.
The midfielder was part of the Argentina gold medal-winning squad at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and has a host of other gold and silver-ware that have been garnered through his 17-year international career.
Now Paredes is using all his wisdom and knowledge in his role as a Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Athlete Role Model at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games .
At the very heart of his advice is one simple rule: train, train and then train some more.
“It is only by training, and knowing you have trained as best you can, that you will enjoy the event and be the best version of yourself.”
“My advice to every athlete who is starting out, either at the Youth Olympic Games or further down the line, is that above all things, be prepared in the best way possible.
Preparation as an athlete must be comprehensive. It is about the physical, mental, nutritional – all facets of performance.”
However Paredes believes that the other fundamental rule to having a good event is to enjoy the experience.
That includes embracing the bad times as well as the good. He says athletes sacrifice a lot of other things – family life, social life – to pursue a career as an elite performer, so it is important that every moment is grasped with both hands.
“You should enjoy all the incredible experiences that you will encounter. Enjoy the event from the cultural, social and sports point of view.
As Argentines, especially, we are fanatical about sports, and at this event, on home soil, the support will be amazing.
So the stadiums will be full, very noisy and very supportive, so the young athletes should enjoy the atmosphere and perform to their best.”
Paredes also says that things have changed for hockey players dramatically over the course of his own career.
In particular, he points to the increasing professionalism of the athletes’ support teams. He uses nutrition as an example:
“Athletes now work with trained sports nutritionists with experience in high performance, who help us to train better, to recover faster and to compete to the maximum of our possibilities, always respecting the rules and taking care of our body.”
Paredes’ own longevity at the top of the game is testimony to the care he has taken with his own health and fitness over the past two decades.
He says the demands placed on an athlete’s body increases over time and it is important to tailor training and preparation to suit the rigours of the game.
He also stresses the importance of continually setting goals and aspirations.
“I think the most important thing is to dream, have desires and aspire to great feats. But to achieve your dreams, the fundamental part is to train.
Yes, take care of your body, but the only bridge that brings us closer to our dreams is to train at 110%.”