Life as an athlete is tough. There are highs, which are great; and there are lows. The challenge is taking time to celebrate your success as well as developing techniques to protect yourself in the low moments giving yourself the courage to fight your way out of the dips.
We speak with Sarah, a young athlete (aged 17), who recently made the Junior GB Modern Pentathlon squad. When you speak with her now, she exudes the qualities of a true athlete, she has deep motivation, strong goals, and dogged determination; but this wasn’t always the case. We chatted to her and found out how some of the skills in our SixBySix matrix apply in her world…
“The first sport I got into was swimming. Looking back my motivation for this was my Mum. Like many children, I just got in the car and went along to training, it was just part of my routine. Now, as a Modern Pentathlete my motivation comes from a different place. For me the hardest time was the transition between having someone else to motivate me, and having to do it for myself”
Training leads to winning, Winning leads to training:
“Becoming a Modern Pentathlete was a bit of an accident for me. I was keen on swimming, and wanted to get better. I had nice friends and a good coach, who all motivated me. I had also found that sport was a great release for life. I could jump in the pool and all I had to think about was my next stroke. I think realising this was the first time I started to be self-motivated to train. I got into running to improve my fitness for swimming, but it turned out I liked that too. I started to get sucked into a vortex, where I loved the feeling I got after training and loved the feeling of winning even more, so I would train harder to win more.”
Seeing the athlete in me:
Speaking to Sarah, it becomes clear that a part of the transition was how she viewed herself in sport. “At the start, I would tell people I did sport, now I tell people that I am an athlete. I didn’t realise it at the time, but once I started to believe I really was an athlete, I started to act like one. Training is a huge part of being an athlete, it is something we all do”
During the Olympics, we talked a lot about legacy, and passing a legacy down to the next generation, Sarah is one of those people who got touched by this, and took it all on-board. “I sat at the Olympics, and saw Samantha Murray standing on the podium and at that moment I knew that I wanted to be there… and that’s my goal, Tokyo 2020” She smiles as she then tells us that “if a goal doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough”
“Being mentally strong is just as important as being physically strong” Sarah tells us. “There are definitely mornings when I don’t want to get up, and if I wasn’t mentally fit and strong, I wouldn’t train. I visualise my competitors lying in bed too, not wanting to get up; that makes me get up, because I feel I can get in one more training session than them.
Before my goals were strong it was much harder to train, I was getting up earlier than most of my class-mates, but for what. Now I have the 2020 Olympics in my head I know exactly why I get up”