I have not been wrong in the opposite direction. People I expected to win international medals always did. Often, these were not the same people everyone else expected. For example, when my lovely daughter, Ronda, was young, she never was selected for those programs for "high potential juniors", but I expected her to win.
Darlene Anaya, who won a bronze medal in the world championships, surprised a lot of people by her performance but not me.
If I was going to select a team I would look at this:
- When in a match and down by a score, pinned or in other disadvantageous situation, does the person fight out? I don't mean put up a good fight, I mean escape and turn the tables. Being able to shake it off when the fight isn't going your way both shows mental strength and the ability to adjust.
- In training, when no one is watching, is this person going their hardest? Being a small person is a big advantage to me, because I can slip into a corner of the gym, climb up on the bleachers and watch without people noticing me. A lot of those who other people rated highly dialed it down when they didn't have an audience.
- How do they react to a loss? Particularly if a young player lost to someone who was supposed to have beaten them, say the current Olympic team member, I'd watch what that person did afterward. Was the kid barely holding it together because he was so devastated or was he happy to get a silver medal in the U.S. Open at 17. (I got a silver medal in the U.S. Open at 17, lost to one of the best women in the world - and I'm STILL upset about it!) No one has the right to beat you, ever.
- Does this person have the best coaches, best training partners - if not, I mentally add on points. If you are in the running with no advantages then when, like Lynn, you make a change and get better coaches, better training partners and a better situation for training, then you have the possibility to make a big leap in comparison to your competitor who is already in the best possible scenario.
For those of you would would point out that Darlene didn't get out of the pin that day and thus refutes my first point - no. My other point is that you don't judge people on a single match or tournament. Everyone has good days and bad days, or when they are young and small, can get hopelessly outmatched.
EXCEPT - my other other point - anyone I see give up in a match, I mean just decide it's too hard and quit fighting, I know will never win in that sport. It doesn't mean they may not go on and be wildly successful in some other area of life but if you don't care enough to fight NO MATTER WHAT then this particular discipline is not your passion. Go find something else that is.