DANNY CRATES: MY THREE PIECES OF ADVICE FOR UP-AND-COMING ATHLETES

Few people know the trials and tribulations of being an aspiring athlete like Paralympic, world and European gold medallist - and former world record holder - Danny Crates. After a car accident in Australia during 1994, Essex-born Danny decided to take up athletics. Danny faced several challenges during his historic career, including a switch from 400m to his favoured 800m, injuries, and dealing with the pressure of a major Games.
30 November, 2021

Few people know the trials and tribulations of being an aspiring athlete like Paralympic, world and European gold medallist - and former world record holder - Danny Crates.

After a car accident in Australia during 1994, Essex-born Danny decided to take up athletics. Danny faced several challenges during his historic career, including a switch from 400m to his favoured 800m, injuries, and dealing with the pressure of a major Games.

But it's the crushing lows that make the searing highs all the more worthwhile, and Danny went on to win gold at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games before acting as flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony in Beijing four years later. He retired from the sport in 2009. 

With a fresh generation of athletics - and sporting - stars now bursting onto the scene, Danny, 48, has shared three invaluable pieces of advice to help SportsAid athletes hoping to follow in his footsteps.

FOCUS ON THE JOB AT HAND

"Don't get too involved in the hype that comes with it because that's just going to add to the nervousness. Keep doing what you do and what you've always done. Treat it like any other Championships; even though this is a home Games, your build-up has still got to be the same.

"Focus on your job, try and let the other stuff happen around you, and don't get bogged down in that. If you get too involved in that, you're going to be too distracted from what you're supposed to be doing, which is preparing for a major event.”

IF YOU DON’T WIN, THE WORLD IS STILL GOING TO SPIN

"There's so much pressure on you as an athlete, and it feels like life and death even though it's not. You feel like you need to win that race, and if I don't, it's all over, and I'm going to lose my funding. I just thought, you know what, If I don't win this race, the world is still going to spin.

"At that moment I realised that as an athlete, there's that fear and anticipation and nervousness, and I just remembered that if you open that door and you've won, your room’s still a mess, your mates still think you're an idiot, and it's not long before you laugh.

"If you open that door and you've stuffed it up, then you open it feeling like the world’s collapsed around you but your room’s still a mess, your mates still think you're an idiot, and it's not long before you laugh again.”

BE MINDFUL THAT YOU’RE PLANNING A LONG CAREER

"This is especially for the younger athletes out there – be mindful that you're planning a long career; you're not just planning to go to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and then call it a day.

“So, when things aren't going according to plan, don't sweat it; it's all part of the journey, illness, injury. I know it's hard to say that when you're going through it, but you have got a long career.

"The important thing is not to rush back from stuff, to do it the right way and the thing that kept me going was I loved training, and I loved the sport, but it became a job in the end, so I was very conscious of making sure I had external influences in my life as well.

"I've done that throughout my athletics career; I had other influences, so I had the other stresses in my life which took my mind off the sport sometimes, which I think is quite important.

“Some people have a lifetime in sport because they go into management or coaching, but for many, we finish our time in the sport, and it's not that long.

"So especially these days with all the National Lottery funding, have that other thing."

Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The programme, supported by Sport England, will reinforce the importance of the Commonwealth Games, particularly one hosted on home soil, as a developmental opportunity within the talent and performance pathway!