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Olympic Fever and life lessons

I really caught the Olympic bug in 2012 - it was in London, hope was high and the country was excited. We clapped the Olympic torch as it ran through our town and I'd got family tickets for the Paralympics where we were lucky enough to see a plethora of gold medals in the athletics. My four-year old son may have slept through most of the wins but we picked him up and down as we sprung to our seats with each awesome victory! On the morning of the victory parade through the centre of London, I even decided to drop my day's plans and get on the train to soak up the atmosphere in the city with my boy. That summer will always be one of my most precious memories that I'll treasure forever.

We are now well into the Tokyo Olympics, a year late with few spectators, lots of face masks and a very different set of challenges for Team GB and the worlds best athletes. It's background noise on my TV all day every day as I work from home and I'm completely caught up in the experience. We've already won more medals than at this stage in any other Olympic games and there are surely more to come - but what's really captured my thoughts are what these sporting professionals are teaching us, about physical, mental and emotional health.

They are all the clearest example of resilience at it's best - Tom Daley started his Olympic journey just two years older than my son, he has suffered pain that many of us have been lucky enough not to have experienced - and finally he has his gold medal, smiles and happy tears from a man who never, never gave up, despite all of the obstacles in his way, I don't know about you but I cried with him!

Mental health has featured highly in these games - Simone Biles, the most successful female gymnast ever, pulled out of the USA Team competition to protect her mental health. What a message to send out to the world that no matter what the professional sacrifices, a role model that millions look up to has put her mental health first. It's allowed so many other athletes, including some of our own, to finally speak out about their own struggles, athletes who won medals at London and Rio and we perceived as being at the top of their game, but after that massive high came the lows of 'what next?'

I saw the parallels with my own, very different experiences of struggling to have a family - four miscarriages, 6 pregnancies and five rounds of gruelling IVF - it completely stalled my career but we kept battling because I knew once I had my dream family, we'd all be happy ever after. But after the highs of completing my family came the burnout, post-natal depression and eventually, once I sought help, a diagnosis of PTSD and emotional trauma. Like the olympians, on the surface, I finally had it all - but I was suffering with the worst exhaustion, in every way, my hormones were all over the place and I didn't feel I could share my feelings with anyone because I was so lucky to have my precious family. With help, by speaking out, I have come back stronger and happier and can enjoy everything I've ever wanted.

I feel so privileged to be a very small part of these games, to watch the wins, the near misses, the emotions and the stories and messages that are reminding me every day - the human spirit is incredible. Our athletes aren't born with resilience, tenacity and a desire to be their best - these are all very conscious choices that they have all made. It's not easy, it's taken years of physical and mental training to get them to where they are, but for me, that tells me that we all have these attributes within us - we can learn, practice and develop skills in bouncing back, managing our mind, improving our physical health and being our best selves, we just have to be brave enough to ask for help and find the tools and resources that work for us. I talk to my children about the lessons we are all learning from these games and that's why I've started my coaching & development business - to share everything I've learnt in my personal and professional life to help others to help themselves. We all deserve our own version of success and winning, to try, fall over and get back up again - find your own version of success, it's there for us all to strive for



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