August blog! Better late than never

The past month has been so busy I hadn’t finished writing my blog for August! I started writing this blog when the 2020 Tokyo Olympics had just finished. Team GB  won medals across all equestrian disciplines. Incredible results for our individuals and teams with Dressage Team Bronze, Individual Bronze, Eventing Team Gold, Individual Silver and Showjumping Individual Gold!! With the team showjumping finishing on a jump off for Gold/Silver between Sweden and USA it really couldn’t have been closer. I hope all horse and athletes have returned home safe and sound. I am aware of the very sad news that Jet Set (Switzerland) was put down following an injury during the XC phase. A tragic outcome which can happen in sport as it can in the field. Devastating for all concerned.

I was concerned that the Tokyo Olympics might not run to the end with the threat of COVID complications, but thankfully that did not disrupt the Games too much as far as I was aware and now The Paralympics are well under way too. I love the Olympics primarily for the human endeavors. I don’t know about you, but I usually end up watching sports I know very little about and getting immersed in the atmosphere. I wonder if it’s because it only comes around every 4 years, or 5 in this case (that will undoubtedly be a pub quiz question!) that it is so special and so much effort is made to clinch a medal, putting your name into the history books.

What I love to do is watch a sport and see how the athletes perform, then I will do some research into their story to understand more about their journey. Inevitably there will be stories about an athletes path to The Games along with interviews after the performance, but I love to find out more about the people too. Some of the stories are truly incredible. The realization I had was that there are still so many countries who do not have the basic freedoms and opportunities we take for granted here in the UK. Not only have those athletes risen to the challenge of getting involved in sport, they have achieved greatness which most of us can only dream of. All of that in the face of adversity. It further highlights the importance of mental strength and resilience not only in sport but in life. In fact sport can be a metaphor for life as Simon Mundie suggests in his Don’t Tell Me The Score podcast series. There are some brilliant interviews to listen to on there.

I am a member of The Coaches Hub which is a group of Centre 10 Coaches. One of our colleagues, Jane Brindley - Horse riding With Confidence Scotland suggested that we find a favourite quote of the day and share it with our group. The Olympics is full of inspirational quotes so it wasn’t difficult to find. Some of my favourites are

·       “Fear is excitement without breathing” Tom Daley (NB. From me: always practice breathing techniques when you are not stressed in order to use them in the moment)

·       “Do 1 thing better each day” Adam Peachy

·       “No-one teaches you how to process becoming an Olympic champion” Simone Biles

·       “Results are out of my control but I just kept to my routine” Bethany Schriever (BMX Gold)

·       “The horse can do anything you want if he understands what it is” Lucinda Green commentating

·       “I know for a fact that for the performance I did, I deserve that Gold. He did the same thing, so I know he deserved that Gold.” “This is beyond sport. This is the message we deliver to the young generation.” Mutaz Barshim on sharing Gold with Gianmarco Tamberi in the high jump.

We can learn so much from sport that transfers to our everyday life. I know that being involved with sport, particularly equestrian sport has had a positive influence on my life. Of course it can be incredibly frustrating at times but every time we overcome one difficulty or challenge we learn something new. My learning has sometimes been painful physically and mentally but I wouldn’t change it. Sport has made my relationships better with family/friends and given me new perspectives when coaching and seeing through another person’s eyes. Life is a learning experience and I hope to never stop learning. That means I must welcome failure as part of the process. I hope you remember to enjoy the journey, whatever your journey is because that is where the Gold is….not necessarily at the Olympics.