The SportsAid Vault


Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Special....the importance of sports psychology and mental fitness

Season 1, Ep. 7

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are in full swing….and it’s time for a special episode of the SportsAid Vault Podcast! So what do we have in store for you? Well, as we know, reaching the Olympics and winning a medal for your country is often considered to be the ultimate goal for many athletes. In this episode, recorded on the morning before the Opening Ceremony, we decided to focus specifically on sports psychology and mental fitness. How do you mentally prepare for a major competition like the Olympics? How do you handle the ups and downs of high-performance sport? How can your mind take you to the podium? Our first guest on this special episode is Chris Shambrook - Performance Director of BelievePerform and Psychology Consultant for the Great Britain Rowing Team at five Olympic Games. He has been working in the world of high performance for over 25 years. His first Olympics were in Sydney in 2000….and he has played a key role for the rowing team at the Games in Athens, Beijing, London and Rio. Chris has a PhD in Psychology and is an Honorary Professor at Staffordshire University. He works closely with SportsAid and talented young athletes through the charity’s partnership with BelievePerform. Our second guest is Nekoda Davis - a British judoka who represented Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She competes in the -57kg category and won her first senior medal when representing Team England at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. She followed up that success in subsequent years with a huge array of podium finishes at Grand Prix and Grand Slam events around the world. Two of Nekoda’s biggest achievements to date have seen her secure podium finishes at the IJF World Judo Championships - claiming bronze in Budapest in 2017 before taking silver in Baku in 2018.  Chris highlights the mental challenge of preparing for an Olympics and how athletes have to focus on performing independently of unique circumstances presented by the Games. He talks about creating a balance between the process and outcome, avoiding a ‘threat state’ and having a ‘challenge mindset’ to deliver your personal best. He discusses the need for self-care, the importance of training the mind and making full use of your support network. He also covers missing out on selection, acting as a travelling reserve, dealing with unexpected success and making sense of disappointments. Nekoda, who withdrew from selection for Tokyo in order to aid her rehabilitation from a concussion injury, offers insight on the mental adjustments athletes have had to make in the build-up to the Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She reflects on her experience at Rio 2016, how she dealt with the emotions caused by her second-round loss, and how she assessed areas for future improvement. She also examines the increased interest in psychology in recent years and how she puts greater emphasis on the journey, as well as the enjoyment of the sport, over medal success.

More Episodes


Alex Yee on his triathlon journey so far, the romance of track and field, and the importance of support networks

Season 1, Ep. 6
Great Britain triathlete Alex Yee is the latest guest to join us on the SportsAid Vault Podcast as he shares stories and insights from his career so far! Alex, who was supported by the Dave Aitchison Fund through SportsAid in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, already has multiple European and international medals to his name at senior level. He enjoyed an illustrious career in the junior ranks – winning silver at the Holten ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup in 2015 followed by consecutive golds at the ITU Duathlon World Championships in Aviles and Soria – in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Alex’s early success led to him being presented with SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award as an 18-year-old. He has also excelled on the track and in cross country running too – posting quicker 5,000m times than Mo Farah did as a junior. He was crowned senior British 10,000m champion back in 2018 and finished 14th at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin that summer. Back on the triathlon front, having stepped up to Under-23s and senior level, Alex won bronze at the Weihai ITU Triathlon World Cup in China in September 2018 before claiming gold at the Cape Town Discovery Triathlon World Cup, followed by silver on his World Triathlon Series debut in Abu Dhabi, in early 2019. He also enjoyed repeated success in Great Britain’s mixed relay teams that year. This saw him take home gold from the Accenture World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series in Nottingham, as well as silver from the ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series in Tokyo and the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne. He is a member of the UK Sport World Class Lottery Funded triathlon squad and recently finished fourth in the opening round of the World Triathlon Series in Yokohama. Each episode of the SportsAid Vault contains a themed discussion based around the guest’s own unique experiences. We talk to Alex about the value of ‘support networks’ as he highlights the ‘bigger machine’ behind his achievements. He also reflects on the support he received following the horrific mid-race crash he suffered at the Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup event in 2017. We find out more about Alex’s upbringing, the influence of his parents and how his first steps in triathlon preceded track and field. He looks back at his school days and how he played several other sports, including cricket and badminton, as he put the emphasis on enjoyment. He also speaks about success at junior level, not obsessing over times and records, and how ‘one result doesn’t define you.’ Alex, now 23, talks through the step up to senior level, competing against more experienced athletes and managing external expectations for both triathlon and track and field. He underlines the importance of ‘being in the moment’, why he analyses performances post-race and how process goals help him to deliver his best. He also reveals why he made the move to Newark during lockdown.

Louise Fiddes on her para swimming achievements to date, embracing the Paralympic movement and how her prowess in the water helped her overcome struggles at school

Season 1, Ep. 5
Great Britain para swimmer Louise Fiddes is the latest guest to join us on the SportsAid Vault Podcast as she shares stories and insights from her career so far! Louise, who was supported by SportsAid in 2016 and 2017, competes in the S14 classification. She first made her mark on the senior stage by winning the overall women’s title at the World Para Swimming World Series in 2018 - having claimed a trio of bronze medals in the Sheffield leg to ensure selection for the team for the World Para Swimming European Championships in Dublin. Her European debut, at just 17-years-old, saw her bring home four medals, including the SB14 100m breaststroke title and three bronzes, in the S14 200m freestyle, S14 100m butterfly and SM14 200m individual medley events. Just over a year later, Louise became a world champion at the World Para Swimming Championships in London in 2019 as she took the SB14 100m breaststroke title. The Welwyn Garden City-based swimmer also returned bronze in the S14 200m individual medley and finished fourth in the S14 200m freestyle. Louise had actually earned a call-up to the World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City back in 2017, where she was set to make her international competition bow, but an earthquake in the host country led to a postponement being made. Each episode of the SportsAid Vault contains a themed discussion based around the guest’s own unique experiences. We talk to Louise, who has an intellectual impairment, about the importance of ‘perseverance’ as she reflects on the challenges she faced at school and how swimming boosted her confidence. She also discusses the process behind receiving her S14 classification and how she felt. We find out more about Louise’s initial introduction to swimming, her daily routine, how her intellectual impairment affects her and how she deals with fatigue. Louise, now 20, also looks ahead to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo this summer as she talks about her personal goals and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on preparations - including moving up to Manchester for four months during lockdown.

Lotte Wubben-Moy on her career so far with Arsenal and England, playing and studying in the States, and the key attributes of a strong leader

Season 1, Ep. 4
Arsenal and England defender Lotte Wubben-Moy is the latest guest to join us on the SportsAid Vault Podcast as she shares stories and insights from her career so far! Lotte recently made her Lionesses debut after impressing for the Gunners in the Women’s Super League. She joined the club’s Centre of Excellence in 2013 and stepped up to the first-team two years later - coming on as a substitute in a 2-1 win over Notts County. She made 13 appearances before moving to the University of North Carolina in 2017 to play for the North Carolina Tar Heels. During her time in the States, Lotte won the ACC regular season twice, the ACC Women’s Soccer Tournament twice and was part of a team that were two-time runners up in the NCAA Division College Cup. She studied for a major in Sports and Exercise Science with a minor in Art History. She returned to Arsenal, the club she has supported since she was a child, in September 2020. Each episode of the SportsAid Vault contains a themed discussion based around the guest’s own unique experiences. We talk to Lotte about the importance of leadership as she reflects on captaining England Under-17s at the World Cup and European Championships, and highlights the need for increased diversity and greater visibility of women in senior positions within football’s administration. We also find out more about Lotte’s upbringing and her life outside of football. She grew up in Bow, East London and went to school in Stoke Newington where she played goal defence in netball and was a long jumper and 800-metre runner. She speaks fluent Dutch as her father is from the Netherlands, and runs her own blog, called the ‘Lotte Little Things’, which she regularly updates.