1 Who or what in your life has inspired you, and why?
I have never been super-inspired by any one person in particular, but more by the overall feeling I’ve got from watching an athlete strive to be the best and then stand victorious on the podium. Listening to the national anthem being sung has got to be one of the most inspiring and emotional moments an athlete can experience in their sporting careers. I found witnessing others in that position particularly inspirational.
2 What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced?
I think all athletes are faced with different challenges throughout their sporting careers. For me, being injured was a huge challenge I had to deal with on a constant basis. Knee and back pain problems were major challenges, which meant I had to undergo three knee operations. Having to be regularly given injections for pain relief in my back was very tough. This type of experience teaches you to become stronger in other areas.
You teach yourself to think outside the box and it enables you to can carry on training, which is a must in order to maintain and improve performance. The other thing that many athletes find hard is the fact they have to spend 24 hours a day together for six months of the year, which can put a real strain on relationships. Not only are you apart from loved ones, it can be tough going getting on with everyone in such a tightly knit group.
3 How did you gain the “self belief” needed to achieve what you set out to do?
I wasn’t always the most confident of athletes. However, I found ways to boost my self-confidence, which in turn helped instil a strong self-belief in who I was and what I wanted to achieve. If you know you are more prepared than any other athlete, this automatically gives you the edge because you instinctively know you are capable of giving an outstanding 100% performance.
4 When did you feel like you had achieved your goal?
Winning Gold at an Olympics was naturally one of the biggest goals I set myself. However, having to retire due to my injuries was hard; I still feel like I had so much more I wanted to give the sport and naturally more medals to bring home in the process. Making that transition, through retirement from the game and beyond, was another important goal for me. I would have to say that one of my proudest moments was winning Gold at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
5 What lessons have you learned that you could share with others?
If you are more prepared than any other athlete you can give 100% all of the time and for longer. It’s also really important to have several options open to you, so that you can adapt to changing circumstances. Have different and varied plans in place so that you never stall or get taken by surprise. Being able to put plans A, B and C is a definite “must have”.
It’s also good to be able to think outside of the box because it’s those extra little things that you do, which more often than not go unnoticed by others, that give you that little bit extra. Every tiny advantage helps you towards achieving the goals you set yourself which are those tiny things you do that make you stronger and more prepared.