Aida Roman explains the importance of a strong coach

The spotlight looms upon those who achieve success, whether that be locally or internationally, but the dedication and hard work that befalls that is often discarded. The importance of a close relationship between athlete and coach is usually overlooked but Olympic silver medallist Aida Roman knows too well the impact it can have.

Following her achievement at London 2012, Mexican athlete Aida was left without a coach when her previous mentor left for Great Britain and found appointing a new one a hard task. Following several failed attempts at finding a partnership, she was put in touch with Lee Mi Joung.

Korean-born Lee moved to Spain with her husband and Spanish Coach Choi, and now teaches girls in Madrid having been a successful archer herself. But she wanted a chance at the higher level and the opportunity to coach Aida was too good to refuse.

“She is very dedicated and hard working which appealed to me,” Mi Joung admitted. “I know she was already successful but I thought I could contribute.”

Despite not having a coach, Aida admitted there were some aspects of being on her own that helped: “I grew up and now evaluate things a bit more. It is important to have someone watching my progress and guiding me, but the independence has aided me.”

The process of finding the correct coach was a frustrating time for Aida, but one she had to get right. Aida explained that in the short term, Mi Joung simply gave her belief she could succeed: “She gave me more confidence and self-trust and helped me feel more relaxed about competing.”

It was a feeling that both coach and athlete shared as Mi Joung had similar hopes when she was appointed. “I thought I could help her improve both technically and mentally,” she said. “We didn’t have much time together before the event so I just tried to give her self-confidence for the competition.”

Aida climbed the podium for the first time since London after winning gold at the World Archery Indoor Championships in Nimes earlier this year, answering her clamouring fans in Mexico and around the world. Standing behind her all the way: Coach Lee.

The pair have already built an effective coach-athlete relationship. Mi Joung travels to international events with Aida, sometimes lending support to the rest of the Mexico women’s team in the coaching box. Aida travels to Madrid to train in the archery centre there, meaning Coach Lee’s young and aspiring students get the opportunity to practise next to an Olympic medallist, and Mi Joung also visits Aida in Mexico.

Looking forward to a bright future, both Aida and Coach Lee hope to continue the good start to their relationship. “I want to keep getting better, to keep motivated to train,” said Aida. “And develop more and more mutual trust with my coach so we reach higher goals.” 

Mi Joung, although hoping for a similar outcome, is focused on going one better in the next Olympic Games. “Personally I hope to learn from the work with Aida, and go to Rio with gold in mind.”

The appointment of Coach Lee is a true matchmaking story, and a professional attitude to finding a new coach that’s not always appreciated in archery. Despite shooting well, Aida’s desire to improve is beginning to reap rewards… as she and Coach Lee begin their Road to Rio together.