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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Roulston (and Reiki) make headlines worldwide with Tour de France success

Reiki has made far more headlines than usual this past week, thanks to the success of first-time Tour de France rider and Reiki practitioner Hayden Roulston of New Zealand.

Roulston placed third in Stage 14 of the grueling three-week race, after breaking out of the peleton and leading most of the way, winning two intermediate sprints in the process. And in pulling out of the pack, Roulston brought world media attention not only to himself and his team, but to Reiki as well.

Here's Roulston in the lead during Stage 14:

(snapshot of television image from Versus HD)

The Reiki Digest has been following this story for three years now (click here to see all our posts on the subject), but for those just joining us, Roulston was forced to retire from cycling and all other sports in 2006 at age 25 after he was diagnosed with an incurable, life-threatening heart condition. But with the help of Reiki, he recovered and came back to even greater success. Now he's not only surviving but excelling in what many call the world's most physically demanding sporting event, competing against another headline-making comeback specialist: Lance Armstrong.

Just a sampling of the coverage he's received in the past few days:

Agence France-Presse: Alternative Therapy Sets Cyclist Back on Tour Track

Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere: Healthy Route Back a Winner for Cyclist Roulston

Here he is being interviewed for New Zealand television, (or you can read about it here). He didn't mention Reiki in that interview, but when he won Silver and Bronze medals in the 2008 Olympics, he made a point of crediting Reiki with not only his recovery, not only his sports success, but turning his life around. (Video of that interview available here.)

All that publicity means that Roulston is not only a Celeb-Reiki yet again, he was also the subject of this week's Reiki Roundup because most of the news about Reiki worldwide was about him.

In his interviews in recent weeks, Roulston revealed that when he was examined for the Tour of California earlier this year, doctors confirmed that his heart is now healthy. ""It's like a second life and I have got my dream back as a cyclist," he told Agence France-Presse.

Roulston got so much out of receiving Reiki that he went on to study it himself. Now, especially after his success in the past few days, he is currently the world's most high-profile Reiki-practicing athlete. How wonderful that he doesn't seem the least bit shy about discussing Reiki.

We understand that some of our readers may not be interested in cycling, or sports in general, but Roulston's success has enormous implications for Reiki practitioners everywhere, so even if you're not at all interested in sports, keep reading, at least until you get to the paragraph in bold type. To help us understand that impact, we're fortunate to have a new commentator who is an avid fan of both cycling and Reiki: Jeremy Allen of Toronto, Canada, whose wife, Julia, is a Reiki practitioner. "I myself do not race but ride and have been an avid cycling fan for many years now. I'm very pleased that Reiki has offered Hayden the opportunity to continue his career and be part of such a magnificent team," Jeremy says. "I believe a good place to start would be to relate the physical and mental demands of such an intense race at the top level of the sport. Additionally, it would be helpful to understand the logistics of a team framework - aside from riders and managers - what is necessary to participate in such an event. Soigneurs are team support staff who provide the team with all of their daily needs such as food, transportation, medical attention and of course, massage.

"As a rider in the Tour, selection for your team implies you have a remarkable capacity of endurance and fortitude. To merely be selected to participate is an honour and to finish the race in Paris is a monumental accomplishment. Hayden's number is 9, which suggests he was the last domestique to be selected for the team, yet his presence is crucial to the success of the team and their leaders.

"A domestique's duty is to collect sustenance from the team car, then catch up to their team mates to distribute food and drink. Anyone who believes this is a subservient or demeaning role might want to consider what exertion must be produced to fall back, add weight to your body, then speed ahead to the world's most demanding athletes over a three week period in the sport's most prestigious race. Arguably the greatest cyclist who ever lived - Eddy Merckx, was so powerful and aggressive, that his domestiques burned out in a matter of 2 seasons and could not continue their careers.

"As you may have noticed, Hayden Roulston was in another breakaway on Tuesday and has displayed potency as time progresses. Part of this has to do with evolving team tactics and the fact that his team leader has adjusted his objectives, thereby leaving domestiques such as Hayden to ride ahead and hunt a stage win, or be ahead on the road to support [defending Tour de France winner] Carlos Sastre at a more demanding point in the day's stage.

"Hayden Roulston is primarily a sprinter and was likely selected for the Tour team to support their premiere sprinter, Norwegian Thor Hushovd. Hushovd won stage 6 in Barcelona and is currently the leader in the points (sprint) competition, which is denoted by a special green jersey. Typically the lead team sprinter (Hushovd) is led by other powerful team mates like Hayden, who create a wind barrier and high pace in the final kilometers so that the lead sprinter has enough energy for an intense effort near the finish line.

"Finally I'd also like to relate the magnitude of the Tour de France.It has a long and prestigious heritage steeped in legend and history. Le Tour was founded as a publicity stunt in 1903 in order to boost newspaper sales. As you may have noticed, the tradition continues. It is broadcast in 16 languages and is represented by a truly international field of competitors, media outlets and sponsors.

"I've become a firm believer in the benefits of Reiki," Jeremy says. "I feel thankful to have a wife who has discovered its wonder and am grateful that she has become part of an insightful and relevant community. I hope you will consider networking with soigneur services and spread the benefits of Reiki further into the sporting endeavour I love so much."

Thanks, Jeremy!

But what are soigneur services, and why are they important to Reiki practitioners?

Jeremy explains: "A soigneur (a French word) is a team support member who provides treatment and care for an individual. Cyclists often produce tremendous amounts of lactic acid and require daily massage to revitalize their muscles." To understand more about what soigneurs do, check out this brief video report from The Guardian (UK). You can also see some soigneurs, as well as Roulston and his teammates in this Washington Post photo feature, Behind the Scenes of the Tour de France.

Once I understood what Jeremy was talking about, the light bulbs started going on in my head. I may never be able to ride in the Tour de France or any other race, but considering how much Reiki has helped Roulston, there may be other riders, as well as athletes in other sports, who could benefit from Reiki treatments after an event just as they do from massage. Or even before -- or during -- an event. After all, if a cyclist can pull up alongside the team car and get a little work done on his brakes, or a spritz of antiseptic on a cut in the heat of a race, why couldn't he get a little Reiki the same way?

Jeremy suggests that Reiki practitioners might want to contact our local, state or national cycling organizations to see if they might be interested in our services, especially now that Roulston's Reiki story has made all those headlines. Great idea, Jeremy!

One practitioner who might be interested in providing some soigneur services is Pamela Miles, author of Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide. In a recent post headlined "Tour de Reiki," Pamela mentioned Roulston's story and confessed that she dreams of becoming the Reiki master for the New York Yankees -- or "even the Mets." Roulston has achieved his dream, and I hope Pamela does as well.

We'll be trying to get an interview with Roulston himself once he finishes the three-week Tour and another important event expected a few days after the finish: the birth of his first child. Meanwhile, we'd love to hear from Reiki practitioners who work with athletes -- as well as athletes who practice Reiki. Tell us about your sports Reiki experiences by clicking on the word "comments" at the bottom of this post on our web site, or email them to

Please note: While Reiki can be helpful with many conditions and situations, it is not a substitute for medical care.


Blogger scifichick said...

What a great story! I will be passing it along.

3:01 PM  

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