PGA of Switzerland Professional, Stefan Gort, and Ladies European Tour Member, Fabienne In-Albon, began working together in 1998 when Fabienne was part of the first regional squad and then a member of the Swiss Sports Gymnasium Golf-Team Davos. Since then the pair have worked on and off together forming a team of practitioners around Fabienne that have helped her through the ups and downs of her career.
As Switzerland’s only current potential Olympic Qualifier, Fabienne is not getting ahead of herself and is working to play well in the lead up to the qualification cut-off, and is working with Stefan to ensure the distractions and potential pressures around playing at the Olympics do not interfere with her plans and preparations.
|Turned Professional:||2012||Switzerland||:PGA of|
|Tournament Wins:||0||19||:Years Coaching|
PGA PROFESSIONAL COACH: STEFAN GORT
Explain a bit about how you began working with your athlete and when that was.
SG: I started with Fabienne in 1998 when she was part of first the regional squad and then a member of the Golf-Team of the Swiss Sports Gymnasium in Davos.
What are the key things you are going to work on to prepare your athlete for the Olympic Games?
SG: Physically and technically, there is for me no difference to any other Tournament on the LET. And yes, there are a couple of things one needs to take care of. First is always the question of general weather in that country, than grass types and along with this, the golf course. So at the end it could mean looking at a variety of different shots that the golf course demands…[along with] course management as always.
Much more important is to realise that golf has not been part of the Olympics forever. So everyone will be excited and wants to do well. Everyone will be overwhelmed by the opening ceremony, the Olympic village and so on. We need to know that we can’t fight these impressions and we should not. It will be a great experience for all.
We have to be aware that all these impressions will distract us from normal activities. Knowing that, we are one step further and can deal with them. We will be part of the opening ceremony, then will leave Rio for a week or so to practice away from all the madness and come back for the tournament and deal with it as with any other event.
Have you changed anything technically or even just operationally with your athlete to help prepare or to aid their qualification hopes?
SG: Not really. Generally speaking, a player should leave for the Olympics well rested and prepared. Knowing there are may new impressions, the Olympic Games drain more energy. Technically we will follow our plan no matter what tournament is coming up. Other than some special shot practice per event if needed.
What advice will you be giving them about competing on a wider global stage than perhaps ever before with an approximate 3.6billion viewers across the world?
SG: We cannot fight thoughts, surroundings or impressions. We have to accept them and deal with them. As I always say: ‘Say welcome to the funny or strange thoughts or impression in your mind, welcome them to your world and make it your friend. Don’t fight the thought; it will only become stronger. The more you accept new situations, the easier it is to accept and to deal with it.’
How will you stay in touch with your athlete during the Olympic Games?
SG: Depend if I will travel with or not. More likely it will be the caddie and not me as mentor and coach. But that is Fabienne’s own decision.
If I should not be at the Olympics, than WhatsApp, e-mail and Video-Calls will help to talk and solve potential problems.
What does it mean to you to be working with a potential Olympic qualifier?
SG: For us it’s like writing history. Golf will finally be a part of it. Every player that will qualify has his/her own little piece they can do to contribute and make golf a better game.
Fabienne for now is the only Swiss qualifier on the list and hopefully she will qualify. So no matter what, she will rewrite some part of golf for Switzerland and naturally for her own career. Other than playing great at the Olympics myself, how much better can it get!?
How do you work with your athlete on a day-to-day basis?
SG: I’ve been her mentor and technical coach for over 14 years on and off, but I am outside the ropes so we do not meet very frequently. We have a great team and everyone knows his/her part very well. We all communicate a lot to serve Fabienne in the best way.
The only thing that counts is to make Fabienne better and to get her closer to her dreams. There is no selfishness in the team or arrogance. Everyone serves for that one purpose. That is awesome!
OLYMPIC ATHLETE: FABIENNE IN-ALBON
What does the prospect of being able to represent your country and make history at the Olympic Games mean to you?
FIA: It would mean a lot to me. The Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event in the world and therefore will mean everything to most athletes.
For me it goes back to when I was a young girl. I was always watching the Olympics (mainly the Winter Olympics) and I always said “One day I will be competing there” of course at that stage I had no idea in what sport, but it was a dream. And as soon as Golf became an Olympic Sport again it was clear to me that now I want to turn this dream into a goal and then into reality.
So I am very close now but I need to keep focusing on my job and do the best I can each week in order to be able to represent my country in the Olympic Games, as there’s still a long way to go.
What makes your relationship with your coach a success and a benefit to your game?
FIA: My whole team of coaches is fantastic. I’ve got great people around me, people who all want the same…helping me become a better player. I think this is our recipe to being successful – that we all have the same goal, we are all on the same page and communication is a big part in our team. I know I can call any of my coaches at any time and they are always there for me.
How important have they been in your existing/current development as an athlete?
FIA: They have all been very important. Without my Team I wouldn’t be where I am right now. In my entire career I’ve experienced a lot of up and downs, I had to deal with a lot of injuries, illnesses, etc, but my Team was always there, they’ve been going through tough times with me but they are still here.
I always say ‘it’s easy for a team to work well if you are successful, but it really shows how good a team is when you are going through tough times.’ And we have been through tough times, but we have always managed to stand up again – every single time – and this is only possible if as an athlete you are having such good people around you and by your side.
I am very proud to be working with such experts but also such amazing people who always helped me to stand back up when we had to deal with another setback. Some have been there from the very beginning, some have joined the Team somewhere on the way, but I am very proud to have all those amazing people by my side.
How are they going to help you prepare for the Olympics?
FIA: Of course each coach has his individual area that they need to take care of, so technical, mental, physical side etc. So we are working very hard in all those areas so that I am able to perform at my best.
But at the same time they are also helping me to not put my focus towards the Olympics that much. Yes of course it’s a big event, it’s THE Event, but we have to try and see it as just another tournament, and even though this will not completely work out, my Team is helping me to prepare for it the same way as I would prepare for any other event as well. I think that approach is very good, because I am not qualified yet and so I have to perform well at all the tournaments coming up meaning I can’t only focus on the Olympics, and I have to perform well beforehand as well.
What are you most looking forward to about potentially competing in the Olympics?
FIA: I mean competing at the Olympics would mean a lot to me – representing your country in such an event is something that you can’t describe. But because I am not qualified yet I am not worrying about things like that.
All I am worrying about now is to perform at my best each week. There will be enough time for me look forward to certain things after I am qualified, but right now the focus is only on my next tournament.
How have you worked/will you work with your coach to prepare for the Games?
FIA: I think we will try and prepare as if it’s just another tournament, so exactly the same as we prepare for any other tournament. Of course the Olympic Games are going to be different but the more equal the preparation the easier it will be for my body to perform at it’s best. My body won’t know if it’s the Olympic Games or if it’s just a practice round, it’s just the mind.
Therefore I think the focus will definitely be on the mental training where we will specifically look at the Olympic Games as just another tournament. And because we all know that this won’t completely work, as it will be something different and something bigger, we will also work on things like accepting that fact that it’s a bigger event, that there will be more things going on around it, etc.
What impact do you think golf being in the 2016 Olympics will have on the sport?
FIA: Hopefully it will have a positive impact and Golf will be seen more as a sport, because the significance and acceptance of a certain sport is definitely bigger if it’s part of the Olympic Games.
The Confederation of Professional Golf Olympic PGA Professional Coach Hub is a first-of-its-kind Olympics page (http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros) that aims to and celebrate coaching and shine a light on the PGA Professionals from around the world that are supporting, or have supported, the 120 male and female potential qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
Each Player-PGA Professional section contains details about their relationship, key links to find out more about both the potential Olympic qualifier and their associated PGA Professional, along with interviews and features with many of them.