Representing Your Country at the World Dwarf Games
Scott Danberg, USA, has competed in five Paralympic Games: 1988 Seoul Korea; 1992 Barcelona Spain; 2004 Athens Greece; 2008 Beijing China; and 2012 London England - more than any other dwarf athlete! Although his primary sport is athletics (field events), he also has competed in swimming and powerlifting. In 2012 Scott was selected by his fellow athletes for the honor of serving as USA flag-bearer at opening ceremonies. Who else would we ask to comment about the international experience?
Tell us about your international competition experiences
How did you feel about representing your country?
"I feel each time representing the USA is just as rewarding as the next. Knowing it is an honor to represent your country, but it also comes with a responsibility to show the class and authenticity of the American people. As I represent the USA I want be polite, respectful, courteous, a good sportsman, and a fierce competitor, but with a big USA smile of my face."
What were your emotions parading into opening ceremonies, especially in 2012 as USA flag-bearer?
"The two most vivid Opening Ceremonies are 1988 Paralympic Games, Seoul, Korea, because it was my first Paralympic Games, and London 2012 because of the honor of representing USA as flag bearer. I remember walking into the stadium in Seoul, 1988. The stadium was sold out, loud, and all cheering. I had never been to a sporting event of this size before and it was exciting. I recall being so pumped-up, my heart rate was through the roof, I was ready to compete. London 2012 is beyond words. Being first selected as a flag bearer nominee by track & field was humbling enough, but getting the call that I was selected amongst all nominees felt like I just won a Gold Medal! As I walked into Olympic Stadium I remember how proud I felt, what a honor this was, not only for me, but for the entire USA Team. How hard we worked to get here, and how important it is for us to do well. I remember how I kept reminding myself to smile, make sure to wave, and not to drop the flag!"
What are your favorite memories of Paralympic Games?
Is there anything you want to add?
"Bring on Rio 2016... what memories will it have in store?"
What advice do you have for athletes at the 2013 World Dwarf Games?
What can athletes do in the next several weeks to prepare for the games?
"To compete well the focus should be on improving the skill (form) of the sport, while improving or maintaining an optimal fitness level. Generally, performance across most sports requires early preparation on improving fitness (i.e., improving cardiovascular, strength, endurance, flexibility, and body composition fitness), and as the competition nears switching the emphasis to the skill demands of the sport while maintaining the fitness levels previously developed. An example of this would be a track & field athlete who weeks ago would have spent time getting into shape before even stepping onto the track or picks up an implement to throw. Then introduces running on the track, sprints/starts, or throws for improving form, not necessarily looking for top speed or throwing distances, just yet, as the focus is on form. When the competition is only a few weeks away much of the time is spent on the track and/or field practicing the sport as we would want to compete. With a week or two to go, think about introducing a taper which means backing off the duration of your workouts but keeping intensity high. Because your workouts are much shorter you can allow your body to rest and with intensity high you stay explosive, focused, and ready to compete."
How can athletes pace themselves across an entire week of competition?
"Rest and nutrition are very important. When not practicing or competing - rest! Bring a good book, videos, laptop, etc. Avoid a lot of needless time on your feet and in the sun. You need to rest and recover from your previous competition and get ready for the next. Avoid junk food. Eat healthy, you are what you eat. If you eat junk your body will give you a junk performance. Other recovery/performance strategies include staying hydrated, stretching after competition, and hot/cold baths or showers."
How can athletes benefit most from the international experience?
"For some it may be your first World Games and the biggest and most challenging competition to date. Welcome this! Gaining experience is as important as training. Welcome meeting new people and new friends from other countries who have the same interests as you... to be a great athlete!"
Provide some hints about being interviewed by the media.
"Interviews can be exciting and stressful at the same time. You want to say the right things, express your emotions. But at the same time you are responsible for what you say. Remember you are representing yourself, your teammates, and your country. Hopefully the interview is because you just had a great performance, but the media also likes to ask questions from those who did not win. Avoid saying anything negative about those you are competing against, the officials, or the facilities. Always try to express yourself, your teammates, your country, and the competition in a positive way."
What should athletes know about serving as great ambassadors for their countries?
"Being a great Ambassador means many things, but importantly being a great role model and displaying great sportsmanship. Be courteous, supporting, and respectful to your teammates and competitors. Be helpful and polite at all times and an advocate of your sports."
What is your most important advice about enjoying the 2013 World Dwarf Games?
"Have fun, and fun, and more fun! Don't be stressed out. You worked hard to be here, be relaxed and confident and let your body and preparations take care of the rest!"