13 August 2020
13 August 2020
For the past year Gemma McCaw has juggled training with her team – the Black Sticks – to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, and getting back to peak fitness after giving birth, with the challenges of being a first-time mum. As we watched the COVID-19 pandemic take hold of the world in March, Gemma and her teammates were preparing themselves for the news that their shot at a gold medal this year was no longer possible.
“For the last year I've had my mind set on the end of July being in Tokyo and everything was planned around that and suddenly it was postponed,” says the Mercedes-Benz Friend of the Brand, who up until recently had relocated her family from their home in Christchurch to a hotel just outside of Auckland in order to train with the Black Sticks. “I guess for me, you can't change an outcome. You can only change how you respond,” she says.
Although the news that the Tokyo Olympics were postponed was disappointing for Gemma and her teammates, she made sure to take a few days afterwards to digest the news and seek support from people close to her. “In the first few days, I did my own training. I didn't set any time, just to allow myself the space to digest the information and not put all that pressure on myself,” she says. “When you’re a mum you don't have too much time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself because that really is the most important job in my life.”
Having former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw as a husband and training partner was helpful in keeping Gemma active during lockdown. “We're really lucky that we can motivate each other. I think having a routine, even in lockdown, makes it a lot easier to get out there and do it.” Planning for the week ahead gave Gemma a sense of purpose to keep training each day.
The key to Gemma’s positivity and motivation throughout her training and setbacks has been her focus on maintaining a good routine. “A big thing around health and wellbeing is continuing to exercise, eat well and sleep well,” she says. “It’s also wanting to be better than I was yesterday. To continue my improvement is a big driver for me, which motivates me to go out there and work hard.”
As the co-founder of Performance Wellbeing, Gemma is a big advocate for the positive effects of physical activity on mental health and overall wellbeing. “I think a big part of exercise, for me, is how I feel and that's really important.”
And while this period of forced lockdown has been frustrating, it has given Gemma the space to spend precious time with her family. “I think the biggest gift you can give someone is time. When you're so busy, you can miss that,” she says.
Gemma – who is regularly asked whether she thinks Charlotte will be a hockey or rugby star – hopes to pass down her love of sport and its health benefits to her daughter. “I want her to grow up in an environment where she can learn and fail and get back up again and try her absolute best. I think I'd be pretty proud if I can watch her do that.”
By Georgia Lejeune