SARAH STOREY: MY THREE PIECES OF ADVICE FOR UP-AND-COMING ATHLETES

Dame Sarah Storey is Britain’s leading ever female Paralympian but is turning her attention to guiding the next generation of talent. The versatile star has stormed to no fewer than 14 gold medals at Games since 1992, embarking on her Paralympic journey as a swimmer in Barcelona before switching sports in 2005 and entering a second epoch of unprecedented success. Sarah followed up those five medals in the pool with a thrilling nine on the bike.
25 January, 2021

Dame Sarah Storey is Britain’s leading ever female Paralympian but is turning her attention to guiding the next generation of talent.

The versatile star has stormed to no fewer than 14 gold medals at Games since 1992, embarking on her Paralympic journey as a swimmer in Barcelona before switching sports in 2005 and entering a second epoch of unprecedented success.

Sarah followed up those five medals in the pool with a thrilling nine on a bike, as she took Beijing, London and Rio by storm to indelibly write her name into ParalympicsGB folklore.

The 42-year-old was a recipient of SportsAid funding as a teenager in the 1990s, laying the foundations for her scintillating career at the summit that burns as brightly as ever today as she prepares for her eighth Paralympics in Tokyo.

But the swimmer-cum-cyclist always has one eye on the next generation of sporting talent, and wants to help SportsAid’s precocious stars of the future follow in her footsteps on the highest stage of all.

DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF

“My first piece of advice is don’t limit yourself - that’s fairly obvious because of my history, where I tried a bit of everything and ended up getting into all sports.

“You may end up switching sports like I did, so that open-mindedness and treating everyday like it’s a school day is really important.

“If someone tells you you can’t do something, don’t limit yourself to their opinion - find a way to prove them wrong, and that’s something I’ve done on a number of occasions.

“People have said to me ‘you’re not going to be any good at that’ or ‘that’s not going to be possible for you to do’, and you need to take that through with you right the way into adulthood.

“Even as an adult, people will write you off or put you down so I think that’s really important.”

STICK TO YOUR PROCESSES

“My second piece of advice would be to always follow your process goals - if you have small but achievable goals all the time, you can tick them off and challenge yourself to get there.

“You can tick them off and then you can see yourself advancing towards the end goal, and that also then crosses over to the piece of advice about not limiting yourself.

"If your process goals need adjusting, then don’t limit yourself and take that logical process to better yourself.

“One of the keys to my success was the application of a number of different strategies - and the best way to ensure that you do win is to focus on the process and not the end goal.

“I’ve always been an athlete who is process-driven, and having built resilience as a young athlete I had that ingrained resilience to follow a process and adapt.

“When you sit on a start line you need to make sure you’ve rehearsed that process, and the different connotations of that process, on numerous occasions so it just becomes natural and you don’t worry about the outcome.

“If you follow your processes, give everything your best shot and deliver your very best performance then the outcome should take care of itself.”

ENJOY WHAT YOU DO

“And the final piece of advice is just to enjoy what you do - I think that’s the absolute key to maintaining any form of longevity in any sport.

“Whether that be surviving a whole year in a team, and they’re all bigger than you because it’s a double school year, or whatever, just enjoy what you’re doing!

“Look at the fun side of your sport - you can work hard and have fun at the same time, and you don’t have to be boring to have fun.

“If you enjoy the suffering of sport then that helps! Because you do need to do a lot of suffering in sport, and it’s the people who can suffer with the least effect who generally come out on top.

“In general, just enjoy what you’re doing and try and find ways to enjoy it, even if it is hard work and it’s taking a lot out of you.”

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