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Olympic Blog: Massage Therapist Kim Kirkland
Kim Kirkland is a Colorado Springs-based massage therapist who is working her first Olympic Games with USA Triathlon. Throughout the course of the Olympic Games, you'll hear from the athletes and staff of the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team here at usatriathlon.org.
LONDON — Triathletes are truly unique and different because there isn’t a muscle in their body that they don’t use for one of their sports. I really pay attention to that when working with USA Triathlon.
They also demand more because their bodies demand more. They absolutely have to be in tune to their bodies. That’s why the triathletes enjoy working with me because I stay in tune to their bodies as well. I work with them two or three times a week at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. When they’re going through an event like this I can tell as soon as I put my hands on them if there are any issues that need to be addressed.
The athletes’ bodies are all so different, but the injuries I see are usually the same. We see a lot of pulled muscles — pulled hamstrings, pulled gastrocs — and ankle injuries.
I started working with athletes at the Olympic level 12 years ago and started with triathlon in 2002 at the OTC. I’ve been fortunate to work Olympic qualifying events with wrestling, speed skating, figure skating and triathlon, but this is my first Olympic Games.
I am so honored to be here but I try not to let that get in my head, because it can distract from the attention I need to give each individual person. If I stay focused and treat this event as a normal everyday thing, I’m not going to miss anything. Finally, at the very end I’m allowed to get excited.
I can’t even explain what it feels like to watch these athletes succeed. It’s like each one of them is my own child. Watching them fulfill their own dreams is such a gift.
I lost my second son two years ago, and these guys gave me an Olympic flag and got 85 athletes to sign it for me. I didn’t stop working when that happened because that flag meant so much to me and showed how much they cared about my family and I. That gesture gave me the will to keep motivated for them because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. They are such an incredible group.