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Q&A with Rohan Kalisch

Rohan Kalisch is a former Australian wrestler who has spent the last 7 years of his life training at the elite level. Rohan has a passion for sport and the science surrounding it, he retired from wrestling in 2015 and now is pursuing to be a sprinter. I sat down with Rohan to discuss his thoughts and his career.
Q: So Rohan, I understand you had an interaction recently that has got you doing some thinking.
A: Yeah, I caught up with an old friend over coffee the other month whom I hadn’t seen for a while. We spoke about our schooling and the negative effects that – when viewed from a superficial standpoint – my training habits and competition schedule may have had on my grades from school, my education, how my peers viewed me and ultimately; my development as a person during that time.
Q: And what is it about the elite level of training you received that makes you pleased with what you’ve done?
A: I have come to realise that, the more I reflect on my athletic career thus far (though far from over) the more I see the benefits I am still reaping to this day. There are so many overlooked components to sport that aid not only the physiological development of an athlete but a more holistic development. I really view a lot of sports as a firm synergy between body, mind and spirit.
With wrestling being such a technical/tactical sport I really felt that helped me grow into the person I am today. Constantly having to push myself to new heights in training and competition has really aided me in my spiritual development; in that I have more tenacity and will than others that might not have had the opportunity to test their character, the way sporting competition does. I’m also a big advocate of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple bits of intelligence. Sport not only aids in the development of Kinaesthetic intelligence but (dependent on the sport and discipline), aids in the development of other intelligence. For example, the logical intelligence archers develop using information and cues to create a line of projection for their arrow.
Q: Is it any different to the same neural patterns musicians learn to build? Or neural pathways that increase when learning a language?
A: Exactly Trent. Even running at the top level requires high-level cadence and timing that a musician requires to stay in tempo with a song. Sport is a pursuit that is often seen as something for ‘Jocks’ or ‘meat heads’, I strongly believe that the athletes of the future are becoming more intelligent and as a result; able to learn and apply more complex movement patterns and strategies to competition, as well as better refine the technique they were taught.

Rohan Kalisch training at the AIS sprint track. Provided by Rohan Kalisch.
Rohan Kalisch training at the AIS sprint track. Provided by Rohan Kalisch.

Q: So what has inspired this shift to the track?
A: I think after all my injuries with wrestling, it was a bit of a breath of fresh air. I like to be in control of most situations, so I was only truly happy in wrestling when I was winning. As a wrestler, the application of strategy is completely dependent on the variables that your opponent creates and how you react to that. So essentially whilst you can train your heart out if you make one mistake in a match; that could be your Olympic shot gone until 4 years later when another opportunity arises. I like sprinting because you get out of it, exactly what you put in. It’s all about attention to detail: eating the right nutrients, keeping up flexibility, practising the correct technique and working on power all whilst performing under the pressure of competition. I like that I am in control of the variables to a higher degree than I had in wrestling.
Q: So tell me, you’ve ultimately had two elite physical pursuits in your life, correct? How has that shaped you and on what levels?
A: There are so many things that I want to say, but I wouldn’t have the time. Wrestling at the elite level has given me an amazing work ethic, confidence in knowing that I can push myself further than most other people are willing to, and has shown me the benefits I can reap from hard work and perseverance. Athletics has really taught me to trust in myself and the process I have to follow to achieve my goals. Being a latecomer to something that is seen to be a “young sport” can be tough because a vast majority of the athletes, who are my age, are already competing at a national level. I ensure that I follow process and procedure without taking any short-cuts, so as to help me obtain the short term and long term goals I’ve set.
Q: What is your potential Rohan?
A: As I mentioned before with neural pathways Trent, I truly believe that everyone has a higher potential than one could even imagine; It becomes about how much dedication they put in.
Q: I like that. So, let’s say you get asked to go and mentor a next generation Australian Wrestling athlete, what would you prioritise in terms of what you have to teach him or her?
A: A good attitude towards training and competition ultimately sets the tone for the athlete’s career. The more they focus on their own attitude, the more they’ll learn and the better they’ll become.
By Trent Pollard

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