Athletes like Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Simone Biles and others taking time off due to mental and physical stress & burnout

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, 6-time cycling world champion, has ended her 2021 season early.

Less than a month after retaining her European title in cross-country mountain biking, the Frenchwoman shared an emotive post on social media as she announced the end to her racing for the year.

“I feel deeply tired, mentally and physically. I don’t have energy and my body is clearly not recovering from training. I decided to stop my season before I make too much damage to my body.

“I’m happy with my decision because I know it’s the best one. I will come back stronger next year.”

After leaving top-tier road squad Canyon-SRAM at the end of 2020, the 29-year-old had produced some strong results in the year to date.

Starting the season with mountain bike team Absolute Absalon-BMC, Ferrand-Prévot secured bronze in a sprint finish at the inaugural Short Track Cross-country World Championships, and sits third in the World Cup standings for cross-country even after her withdrawal from racing at the fifth round in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

The versatile cyclist, who has previously won world titles in three different disciplines, joins a host of athletes recently in opening up about struggles surrounding their performance at the top level, with mental and physical fatigue often leading to further issues.

Such was the case at the Tokyo Olympics, when strongly-favoured American Simone Biles felt unable to compete in the team final of the gymnastics, with mental health her primary concern. A quadruple gold medallist the Olympics prior, the Texas-based athlete only returned for the final of the balance beam, winning bronze to equal the record for medals won by a US gymnast.

With an extended five year Olympic cycle in the lead-up to the Games, Biles was the poster child of the event for many at home. Expected by many to equal or improve on her medal haul from the Rio Games, the Ohio-born gymnast was philosophical after her withdrawal.

“We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do… We’re not just athletes. We’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back.”

Despite the mental effects of sport being at the forefront of debate for the first time in recent years, such topics have been present for a significant period of time.

6-time snooker World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, whose experience of burnout and stress has been well-documented, has abandoned matches and skipped tournaments due to the demands sport has placed on him.

More recently, four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open after winning her first round match, refusing to participate in press conferences throughout due to the strain on her mental health.

Despite taking a break from competition and skipping the Wimbledon Championships, the 23-year-old announced a hiatus from tennis after an early loss at the US Open, stating that, “[W]hen I win, I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad.”

No matter the level of competition, participating in sport creates fatigue, both mental and physical, with training placing significant demands on the body, and stressors from all areas adding to the cognitive demands involved.

We created Rewire to help athletes that are looking to combat mental and physical fatigue in and out of competition.

Whether it is assessing readiness for competition or training, or training the brain to cope better with mental fatigue, the Rewire app has you covered.

Start your free trial with Rewire today to maximise your potential, and improve your resilience to mental fatigue.

Collins Cup 2021: Hanson and Kanute in Team US

Rewire Athletes Matt Hanson and Ben Kanute tackled the inaugural staging of the Professional Triathletes Organisation’s Collins Cup in Šamorín, Slovakia on Saturday, a team event featuring squads from the US, Europe, and the Internationals, formed of those hailing from outside the two geographical powerhouses of triathlon.

Matched up against some of the best the rest of the world had to offer, both finished second in their three person matches, with Kanute less than two minutes back of the leader in the gruelling three hour long event, bringing home 3.5 points for Team US, while Hanson ceded a longer gap to the first-placed athlete in his match, gaining 2 points.

The overall team result saw Europe take victory with 42.5 points, winning half of the 12 matches, including four straight in the middle of the competition, with the US finishing on 31.5, and Team Internationals languishing with 25.5.

Both athletes had qualified for the US team by virtue of their PTO World Rankings, and they joined four other men and six women to form the US team, led by six-time Ironman World Champion Mark Allen, and dual ITU World Champion Karen Smyers.

Three days prior to the event saw a televised draft to decide which athletes would contest each of the 12 matches that made up the unique event format, rewarding athletes with points for both finishing position, and margin of victory.

Match 10 saw Team Europe pick first, selecting Daniel Bækkegård. In response, Captains Allen and Smyers selected Kanute, who sat one place behind Bækkegård at eleventh in the world rankings coming into the competition. Australian Max Neumann was the final athlete selected, the world number 17 representing Team Internationals against two athletes with the capability to produce a swim leg up there with the best in the world.

“I think a lot of people underestimate Daniel, we did not, but we are going to put somebody against him who is absolutely fearless, and willing to put everything he has out there and a little bit more to make it super exciting and to bring home the win.”

The following match saw first pick back with Team US, and Matt Hanson was their penultimate selection of the draft, as the captains emphasised the quality of the 36-year-old’s running. The response from Team Internationals was to field Braden Currie, winner of Ironman New Zealand at age 35 on home turf earlier this year, and Team Europe chose German Patrick Lange, also 35, for one of the oldest matchups on the day.

Kanute was first out of the water in his match, his 25:20 for the 2 kilometre distance only being bettered by two other athletes all day. Unfortunately for Matt Hanson, however, those two athletes were both in his match, and so his time of 27:00 gave him a deficit of just under two minutes going into T1.

Coming off a fourth consecutive win at the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, Kanute made up time in transition over the long course specialists, to stretch a lead of a solitary second coming out of the water to over 10 seconds entering the bike leg.

Shortly after the pair made their exit from the Danube, the US had the first win of the day delivered by Taylor Knibb, who had put seven minutes into her nearest challenger on both the bike and run legs to finish with maximum points and a lead of over 15 minutes.

On a damp course, which featured multiple bike leg crashes and missed turnings, both Rewire Athletes managed to keep on track, and rubber side down, with Kanute extending the gap to Bækkegård to over a minute early on in the 80 kilometre ride.

Kanute’s lead did not hold, unfortunately, with Bækkegård reeling the Rio Olympian in towards the end of the leg, as the American finished in a time of 1:47:23, holding a slender four second lead as the athletes entered the final 18 kilometres of the race. Ahead for much of the early running, Kanute eventually relinquished his lead to the Dane, generating a time just over the hour mark of 1:01:10 for his leg, which featured an impressive sprint finish.

Hanson clocked 1:51:59 for the bike leg, and emerged from T2 with a slight lead over Team Europe’s Lange, though with a four minute gap to Braden Currie ahead. The former professor’s buffer stretched to over a minute mid-run, and he finished in 1:03:25.

For Kanute, a total finishing time of 3:16:49 garnered him 3.5 points, courtesy of a significant margin over Neumann in third. However, the American could consider himself unfortunate, with the fastest non-winning time of any of the matches, and the fourth-fastest time overall behind two members of the world rankings top 3 in Jan Frodeno and Gustav Iden, and Bækkegård.

Hanson’s 3:25:46 generated 2 points, as an irrepressible Braden Currie stormed to victory in match 11. The Colorado-based athlete did well to hold the gap to Currie under six minutes, avoiding the Kiwi bringing home maximum points for Team Internationals.

Ben Kanute wins Escape from Alcatraz 2021

Rewire Athlete Ben Kanute finished as the first athlete home at the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon yesterday, leading a field containing more than 1500 athletes.

Returning to the San Francisco-based event after a pandemic-enforced hiatus in 2020, Kanute came to California searching for his fourth consecutive title, having improved on a 3rd place in his first appearance in 2016 to win each edition from 2017 onwards.

Contesting the win and $25,000 prize pot with seven other pros, the American fought for the win over a course featuring a 1.5 mile swim in the San Francisco Bay, and waterfront bike and run legs lasting 18 miles and 8 miles respectively.

Starting with an iconic leap from the San Francisco Belle, the swim leg saw Kanute enter the first transition 46 seconds back of fellow pro Greg Harper, sitting in second with a time of 33:16.

Showing strong leg speed out of the water, the Rio Olympian pushed through a half mile long swim-to-bike transition to halve the gap to Harper, and pull further away from the chasing pack behind ahead of the bike leg.

On a hilly and technical route that took athletes along the leafy San Francisco coastline, Kanute took the lead from Harper and never relinquished it, completing the 18 mile loop in 46:50 to lead by 49 seconds going into the bike-to-run transition.

Eventual third-place finisher Bradley Weiss had made up 11 seconds on Kanute through the bike leg, but the gap stretched to over a minute after T2, where the Arizona-based athlete again was the best performer of the professional field.

Despite the benefit of a buffer of 1:07 from second place, and over two minutes’ gap to the remainder of the pro field, Kanute needed no such advantage on the run leg, as he put together the fastest run leg of the pro field in 45:44.

The result was a convincing one, and Kanute was rewarded with a finish time of 2:10:11 (and a top prize of $10,000) for his efforts, more than two minutes ahead of second place.

That second place was taken by Jason West, who also performed well on the run leg. The world #95 put together an 8 mile time just two seconds slower than Kanute’s to finish second (2:12:16) ahead of a fading Bradley Weiss in third (2:12:41).

Next up for the US international is the Collins Cup later this month, where fellow he and fellow Rewire Athlete Matt Hanson will take the best the rest of the world has to offer, in the form of combined European and International teams, over a course that consists of a 2 kilometre swim, 80 kilometre bike, and 18 kilometre run.