What an incredible few days of sport with the World Athletics Championships, the FEI European Championships, the Belgium Grand Prix… I have been glued to the TV. It has been inspiring, humbling and at times weirdly stressful! But what I have been most intrigued by is the different characters in the sports – successful sports people come in all shapes and sizes but also with all kinds of personalities, how does that work?
Let’s take Usain Bolt for example – he oozes star quality, loves a practical joke, fools around before and after races, knows he is a legend and is always playing up to the cameras – perhaps Geoff Billington is the equestrian equivalent? Lewis Hamilton on the other hand is so humble and focused – revealing he cannot believe how successful he has been and still worries he is going to wake up and realise he actually works in McDonalds. Similarly, any interview with Charlotte Dujardin shows how lucky she feels to be where she is.
Then we have the amazing Jessica Ennis- Hill. Noone could have a bad word to say about her – she is kind, polite, loving, is a doting mother to her little baby Reggie, looks out for fellow competitors and is just an all round nice person – definitely like Ben Maher (well except the being a good mother bit) Then we have Justin Gatlin (Bolt’s major competition in the 100m) – arguably vilified by journalists but you can see why with drug bans, no apparent remorse, a huge ego and a steely focus. Not sure I should say who this is like but I can think of a few in the horse world…..
So how come they are all successful?
It takes more than pure talent, there has to be a desire and a willingness to stick your neck out and try but also…
– stay true to yourself – one of my favourite films is Cool Runnings. They can’t succeed when trying to act like the successful Swiss team, they are good when they are true to themselves, lucky egg and all!
– have the right people around you to support. The Bolts need someone to look after and guide them without stifling their personality and talent, the Hamiltons need someone to drive and support them, the Ennis-Hills need someone to protect and encourage, the Gatlins probably just need someone to keep their heads down and a good PR team…. But they all need the support. I can tell you now that my mother would kill Usain Bolt if she was his coach! And there have been some very public cases where talent with the wrong support goes wrong – George Best, Michael Jackson, Judy Garland….
No one person has ever succeeded at sport – everyone needs someone there (even if it’s just to alter the practice jump). So stay true to yourself and surround yourself with the people that bring out your best. True for sport and for life!