Elevating People and Performance in Pursuit of #BuildingChampions
With final preparations underway for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, CSIO presents a new article series highlighting the work we do in supporting athletes, coaches, and sport organizations for the Games. The title of the series is KAIZEN – a Japanese word which means continuous improvement, and one that seems so fitting. When training and competition were disrupted, athletes adapted and showed resiliency in their relentless pursuit of the podium, and our staff were right there with them. CSIO staff found innovative ways to provide best-in-class programs and services safely, demonstrating unparalleled KAIZEN - Elevating People and Performance in Pursuit of #BuildingChampions. Because #WECAN.
By David Grossman
There is something to be said about elevating people and performance.
It can happen in any career – including those associated with the world of high performance sport.
Making the best of those opportunities, be it through professional development or sharing expertise, can play a compelling, and often momentous, role in the life of an athlete, a coach, a sport practitioner or conossieur.
And that can also happen leading up to, during, and after prestigious events like the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
Among the benefactors of the kaledeidoscope of international sport talent in Japan this summer, will be several people who won’t even be taking part in any official competition. In fact, neither are they the prominent names emphasized in key matchups.
Yet, each of them, with impressive comments from many who observe and benefit from their work, have already been given a different kind of standard of achievement. One loaded with respect and appreciation. Call it an award of distinction with accolades for their role in helping athletes perform to the best of their capabilitties.
Remo Bucci and Lindsay Musalem are part of that contingent.
An 11-member team from the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO), which includes Bucci and Musalem, will be in Tokyo along with the largest Canadian delegation of athletes for a prime time international sports spectacle in almost four decades.
At the Summer Olympics, taking place between July 23 and August 8, Bucci (Cycling) will be with CSIO colleagues Lauren Buschmann (Women’s Basketball), Ryan MacDonald (Beach Volleyball), Stephen McMullan (Cycling), Emily Wood (Cycling) and Dr. Sari Kraft (Team Canada Core Team).
The Games of the Paralympiad, the formal name for athletes with disabilities, then takes over from August 24 to September 5, where Musalem (Team Canada Core Team) joins Bucci (Para Athletics) and four others from CSIO - Meghan Buttle (Goalball), Melissa Lacroix (Wheelchair Rugby) as well as Dr. Kim Coros (Para Athletics) and Dr. Steve Dilkas (Wheelchair Basketball).
Bucci is the only CSIO member designated for both events.
A Sport Fellow with the Canadian Sport Massage Therapists Association (CSMTA), Bucci is an individual who uses hand contact to manipulate the muscles and soft tissues of the body. His main goal: to help heal injuries, assist in maintaining and enhancing the physical training/performance level of athletes, relieve stress and help in the general wellness of athletes. High up on that list is the elimination of pain.
In life, there are always risks. Some are easy to deal with, while others can be a challenge. Agony, discomfort and irritation are things Bucci knows all too well. It’s what actually got him involved in his profession of fighting soreness, discomfort and injury.
Back in his teen days, Bucci was a multi-sport athlete. It was shortly after he graduated from Toronto’s Humber College with a General Arts and Science Diploma, that Bucci, then a 20-year-old, chose to work in construction.
Unfortunately, he sustained injuries and herniated several discs. At one time, Bucci had a curvature of his back because of his challenge in dealing with the excruciating pain.
“It was not good, and I remember going for treatment,” he recalled. “I found that after various therapy sessions, what really helped were the massages.
“Since I liked sports, and also working with my hands, I signed up for a two-year program at the Sutherland-Chan School of Massage Therapy. Looking back, it was the best career decision that I made.”
Closing in on 30 years as a registered massage therapist, and member of CSMTA, Bucci said he wouldn’t change his job for anything.
“It took a long time, but doing what I do, shaped me to where I am today,” said Bucci, CSIO’s Lead, Therapy. “Having the ability to work with high performance athletes is what I wanted. With opportunities like going to these Games, it’s a fabulous way of still being able to learn.”
Bucci is no rookie at major sports event. Tokyo is the latest, having worked at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Greece, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy, and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
“I’m a modest kind of guy, I’m doing what I do best – help athletes,” he said, and grateful for the support from his wife. “I know I am fortunate and am tremendously thrilled at going to the big show. The athletes know me, and I know them. There is no greater thrill than to see them healthy and eager to compete.”
Being part of the international and global sports scene is exciting, and yet Bucci sees it as a constant educational opportunity. Of huge importance to him is making sure athletes know he’s there to help foster an atmosphere of success.
The Tokyo Games, with an expected 12,000 athletes from 206 countries, will be the second of three consecutive Olympics/Paralympics to be held in East Asia, with the previous being in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. In 2022, it’s the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.
Sport is not new to Musalem. Neither is her thirst for knowledge, education and science.
Musalem is a biomechanist, an area of study that goes beyond kinesiology, and examines movement in living things. She uses biology and physical mechanics to understand human movement better, and then to learn more about ways athletes can move to optimize performance and reduce the chance of being injured.
“I am on the sport science side of the Core Team and, for me, it’s about technique, equipment and load monitoring,” said Musalem, who earned a Degree in Kinesiology at the University of Toronto before getting her Masters in Biomechanics.
“I work with the coaches to assess athlete performance and provide feedback to improve technique and equipment.”
In contrast to Bucci, Musalem is newer on the International Games scene, having worked at the 2015 Pan Am and 2019 Parapan Am Games, this is her first Paralympics. She is eager to use her skill set to examine, evaluate and explore ways to guide athletes and maximize potential.
“For me, being at the (Paralympic) Games also provides learning opportunities to observe how practitioners in other countries contribute to supporting the well-being of their athletes,” she said. “It’s about how we maintain the level of service because, being in Tokyo, we don’t have all the amenities that are available back home.”
For Bucci and Musalem, experience and maturity counts. Toss in consistency and the willpower to exceed, and the formula for success is quite evident.
Ryan Atkison, CSIO’s Director of Performance Services, has a clear perspective on the role of Bucci and Musalem.
“First, they are both very good at what they do, and are superb individuals,” said Atkison. “Our athletes need to have the additional comfort from the people they know and trust. The impact extends beyond their craft.”
As for all the CSIO staff providing their expertise at these Games, Atkison sees the value back to the organization ten-fold.
“For CSIO, supporting Major Games work experience allows our staff to be able to apply their skills in a supportive, high-pressure, high-stakes environment, which allows them to grow and flourish. They also have the unique opportunity to learn from others from around the world,” added Atkison. “It makes them better practitioners and in-turn they bring that knowledge back to the rest of the team.”
And full circle, it goes back to elevating people and performance.
David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.
Cover photo courtesy of Remo Bucci and Lindsay Musalem
READ OTHER ARTICLES IN THE KAIZEN SERIES:
Laura Albright, Senior Advisor, Communications & Marketing
Canadian Sport Institute Ontario