Peptan Blog



11 Jul 2024

For 9-year-old Noah Kuavita, watching the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on TV in 2008 awakened a dream: one day, he wanted to be a part of the Games himself. That day has almost come: when the 2024 Paris Olympics kick off, Noah will proudly represent Belgium on the horizontal bar. We spoke with the gymnast about the Games, dedication to sports, training and diet.

Flips on a mattress

As a boy, Noah learned his first flips and somersaults at home on a mattress in the living room. At six, he joined a local club. His passion for gymnastics was ignited. ‘As a kid, I was always on the move, climbing and clambering. Accidents were inevitable. I remember a particularly dramatic fall when I was about four or five years old. I was climbing on a wooden beam at school, trying to perform a daring turn, when I lost my balance and fell face-first onto the ground, breaking my teeth.’ The tumbles and twists only fueled Noah’s love for gymnastics. When people asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, his answer was clear: a professional athlete

Enjoyment and sacrifice

Being an athlete at Olympic level requires dedication and sacrifices. But what makes all that worthwhile for Noah? ‘I just love what I do,’ Noah replies. ‘Enjoying gymnastics has always been at the top of my list. Even during the summer, I continue to train without a break. Last August, my family took a vacation in France for a week, but I didn’t join them because of my training schedule. I wanted to keep at it. If you love what you’re doing, you don’t think that much about what you might be missing.’ 

Training six days a week 

Noah’s training program is intensive and structured, always keeping him as close as possible to peak performance. He trains six days a week—four days for six hours and two days for a bit less. ‘Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are my intense training days, with extra cardio and competition routines. Wednesdays are relatively restful. In gymnastics, every muscle has to function optimally, so as a team we start with warm-ups, then move on to specific exercises tailored to each individual gymnast, as everyone has their own personal program. Twice a week, I see a sports masseur to work out any muscle tension, and I also see a physiotherapist, a chiropractor and a doctor if needed. This routine helps me stay at the top of my game.’ 

Mental resilience

Gymnasts like Noah are constantly reaching for the edge of what is physically possible – and sometimes going beyond the edge. Because sport takes a heavy toll on the body and comes with a high risk of injuries, outstanding physical has to be paired with outstanding mental condition, says Noah. ‘We all know about US gymnast Simone Biles’ tough decision to withdraw from the 2020 Olympics, because she was not mentally up to it. Thankfully, she’ll be back in Paris. It’s crucial to feel mentally strong. Sometimes, even if you’re not physically at your best, mental resilience can make the difference. It’s a good thing that in this sport attention for the mental aspect is increasing.’ 

Noah Kuavita training for the Olympics

Pressure to perform 

Noah adds that he knows full well how overwhelming the pressure to perform can be. ‘When you’re in the finals and have a shot at a medal, your focus can shift dangerously towards the result and away from the routine you must do – which requires total concentration and mastery. It takes a lot of self-discipline to stay focused on your own performance, at the moment. Working with a psychologist has helped me to identify this and other pressures and how they affect me, and to consistently get back to my own internal motivation.’ 

The importance of sports nutrition 

Beyond physical training, Noah recognizes the crucial impact of nutrition on his performance, following a personalized nutrition plan to ensure he gets the best possible results. ‘When I deviate from my diet, I literally feel less energetic. Nutrition is more important than many people realize. An occasional cheat treat can be good for your mental well-being – as a way of relaxing – but overall, healthy eating and drinking is essential.’  

Powered by Peptan collagen peptides

Noah’s diet includes various supplements, each serving a specific purpose in supporting his athletic performance and overall health. ‘Every day, I take Peptan collagen peptides, which support my joints and tissues. This is crucial for a gymnast, as our bodies face a lot of strain and stress. I also take magnesium to ease muscle tension, particularly in the evenings: it helps my muscles relax overnight, which is an essential part of recovery. Additionally, iron bolsters my immune system, making me less susceptible to illness. And I also daily take vitamins B and D and a multivitamin.’  

Collagen contributed to recovery

After tearing his Achilles’ tendon during a competition in 2021, Noah struggled with issues related to scar tissue during recovery. To aid healing, and with support from nutritional experts, he doubled his collagen intake. ‘I’m certain this helped me regain flexibility more quickly. The collagen intake significantly contributed to my swift recovery.’ 

On the Road to Win

Competing at the Olympics has been a long-standing goal for Noah. His first opportunity came in 2019, when he narrowly missed the selection. Now, he is ready and determined to make his mark. ‘My goal is to reach the finals on the horizontal bar and to finish among the top 8,’ Noah says. 

Watch Noah in action at the first qualification game on the 27th of July!  

Discover more about the other Peptan Ambassadors striving for Olympic and Paralympic success this summer:  

  • ​​​Daniel Knegt, Dutch visually impaired judoka, with his coach, former Olympic judoka Danielle Gommers-Vriezema  
  • Luka van den Keybus, Belgian gymnast 
  • Marie Josephe Fegue, French weightlifter 

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