RALEIGH — For athletes competing at the track and field ACC championships, it’s easy to fall into a mental trap of "make or break."
Have to get on the podium. Have to chase the leader. If you want to go to the NCAA regional competitions, you have to hit that magic mark.
So for Amin Nikfar, his challenge is to keep his athletes focused on their process and not their results. Nikfar, the throws coach for the UNC track and field team, hopes this process-oriented mindset helps his throwers maintain consistency.
“We have our plan,” Nikfar said. “We're gonna stay in our lane. We're gonna do our thing, and the result is going to take care of itself.”
Senior thrower James Joycey placed second in the men’s hammer throw at the championships on Thursday. Nikfar said the focus for Joycey was not to exceed but rather to meet expectations and finish second.
No need for personal bests — just place where you finished. For Joycey, that might not have been his focus years ago.
Raised in Australia, Joycey was a national champion in the boys' hammer throw under 18 division, winning the Australian All Schools Championship in high school. He then came to the United States, where the competition got better.
And when the competition beat Joycey out, he took it like it was an attack on him as a person, he said.
“I had to learn I wasn’t gonna be the best,” Joycey said. “I had to learn how to compete where my feet were at. I had to develop that, because if I didn’t, I was just gonna be left to the wolves.”