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How Olympic athletes deal with the stress of competition

A local sports psychologist watches the Olympics with an appreciation for how athletes deal with stress.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A local sports psychologist watches the Olympics with an appreciation for how athletes deal with stress.

“Some anxiety is good,” said Brian Baxter. ”You want the excitement but you have to channel it into your performance.”

Baxter advises his clients to focus on what they can control.

“There are four things I can control,” explained runner JJ Osborn. “My attitude, my effort, my preparation and the present moment.”

Osborn has been seeing Baxter for two years after suffering panic attacks during races.

“I was worrying about things I couldn’t control like my opponents and the spectators,” she remembered. “The focus is not on the win, but how to get there.”

The pre-competition ritual is also a component of dealing with stress.

“The now famous Michael Phelps death stare, is his way of getting the proper mindset and channeling any anxiety,” said Baxter.

Osborn believes the sports psychology techniques have helped her earn a college scholarship. She’ll be running for Xavier University in the Fall.

“I know like the Olympians, I need to continue with things like positive self-talk and visualization because the mind and body are so connected.”