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Student ‘putts’ skills to the test at Rio Olympics

9.59am 18th August 2016 - People

James Tobia with Maria Verchenova in Rio
James Tobia with Maria Verchenova in Rio

University of Bedfordshire student James Tobia is on the road at Rio by caddying for Russia’s only female golfer, Maria Verchenova.

Since starting as Maria’s Coach & Performance Development Specialist, the duo have earned themselves a few top finishes and a win at the Evian Qualifier in Geneva.

They are now decked out in the Russian kit and are on the road to the Rio Olympic Games on the hunt for a gold medal. The ladies golf runs until 20 August.

Talking about their tactics at the Olympics, James, a Sport Science and Coaching student, said: “At Rio, we have a number of days on arrival to work out our course attack plan and to refine and tweak Maria’s game so it adjusts to the course and weather conditions.”

However, there are some challenges that he expects to face: “Injury prevention is always a big one as Maria has a huge work ethic and we can hit a fair amount of balls a day and the training days are intense!” he commented. “There are always equipment, psychological, technical and other types of problems that tend to jump out at us! The trick is to be ready and prepared just in case.

“We will need to micro manage the excitement, responsibility and the pressure of performing for the country,” he continued. “Mother Russia have placed extreme pressure on us to perform and they live for the Olympics so the challenge ahead is very real!”

James is quick to point out the misconception that a caddy just carries the bags. He explained: “A caddy analyses statistics, ensures that the tee to green measurements are precise, takes into consideration the weather, the cut of the grass, ensures that the pro is fully supported, is a psychological prop and a truly professional colleague who communicates accurately at the appropriate time ensuring that scoring occurs and there is damage limitation when player concentration slips.”

Though there are a lot of positive things to look forward to at his first Olympic Games: “Personally I have been really looking forward to the atmosphere of the Olympics. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the closing ceremony walking out with the rest of the Russian team. And seeing Bolt of course!

“We are aiming for gold and have been training for this for the past few months. We won’t hold back and will treat it like our other win this year and ride off the back of that confidence.”

University of Bedfordshire

Olympic Golf / International Golf Federation

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