I am now one of 36 Athlete Mentors across Ireland who facilitates the programme throughout secondary schools here. Together with (among others) Olympic winner Chris Cook from Swimming, we all kicked off with a number of training days for us all which were really good and it was at this point that I knew the programme was for me. It is such a great programme and what better way to try inspire young people to achieve and assert themselves to their goals than using the same transferable skills I’ve developed as an elite athlete.
The focus on the six keys for success (Mental toughness, Hunger to achieve, People skills, Sports and life knowledge, Breaking barriers, Planning for success) are so important as they are designed to help young people develop valuable life skills that will help them in and outside of school, now and into the future. I’ve made no secret of my own challenges with Crohns disease (an autoimmune illness affecting the digestive system which currently has no cure) and I know I have used every single one of the 6 keys to success to bring myself back to the top of my sport.
Trying to balance the SSLFS programme with my own training and other commitments brings a new challenge for me on a personal level and I am so excited to be part of this amazing team. For me, becoming an Athlete Mentor is a fantastic way to give back to sport and promote the benefits of it to young people. I hope that my experiences in sport can inspire students to pursue their goals despite any obstacles that life brings.