IWAN THOMAS

THE BRI­TISH 400m RECORD-HOLDER TURNED TV AND IN­FIELD PRE­SEN­TER IWAN THOMAS TELLS JES­SICA WHIT­TING­TON ABOUT THE POWER OF THE MIND

Athletics Weekly - - Contents -

UK 400m record-holder on the en­dur­ing power of the mind

MY MIND was prob­a­bly one of my strong­est tools as an ath­lete. I had the abil­ity to re­ally race well. I used to train against peo­ple who were bril­liant in train­ing but then as soon as they got to the track and they heard ‘on your marks’, they’d shrivel up and they wouldn’t raise their game.

I think the best ath­letes are the ones who can find the ex­tra 10% when it comes to race day. In a way, I don’t think you can teach that. You do have sport psy­chol­o­gists and so forth but I think a lot of that is just nat­u­rally in­side. Some peo­ple are, I don’t want to say born win­ners, but I think some peo­ple have got that switch – that men­tal­ity where they can run through brick walls and go through the pain bar­rier. It doesn’t mat­ter how ta­lented you are, un­less you’ve also got that switch I don’t think you’ll be the best in the world be­cause you need a com­bi­na­tion of ev­ery­thing.

My men­tal strength now isn’t as strong as it was. I don’t need it to be. There are cer­tainly days where I can’t be

“TO BE AN ATH­LETE YOU HAVE TO BE VERY SELF­ISH. BUT DON’T FOR­GET HOW MANY SAC­RI­FICES OTHER PEO­PLE MAKE FOR YOU AS WELL”

both­ered to go train­ing and my mates will knock on my door and I’ll say I’m not feel­ing like it. But I’ll go for a five-mile run and come home feel­ing bril­liant.

The hard­est thing be­ing an ath­lete is that you will get in­jured. It doesn’t mat­ter who you are, un­less you’re so lucky – your body will let you down and you’ll break. I think it’s just try­ing to deal with that and try and be fo­cused that you will get back.

The worst bit for me, when I was an in­jured ath­lete, was watch­ing other peo­ple run. You might watch the AAA on TV and see peo­ple win­ning the 400m in times which you used to jog. It’s im­por­tant to keep your eye on the prize and set new, real­is­tic, small goals to try to get back.

For me, I never did get back, I had so many in­juries I had to quit. But for any ath­lete the hard­est thing is man­ag­ing ex­pec­ta­tions and deal­ing with all the in­juries, be­cause it is tough.

In ath­let­ics, there is life af­ter sport and there has to be, but you don’t think that when you’re in it. For any ath­lete read­ing this now who has got an in­jury, their life is over be­cause in their eyes it’s all they want to do, and rightly so be­cause you do what you love. But you will get over it and you will do some­thing else within your life and you will move on to bet­ter things. But when you’re in that lit­tle bub­ble it’s very hard to see out­side that and I think the worst thing is, you don’t think other peo­ple un­der­stand.

You bite every­one’s heads off be­cause you think they don’t un­der­stand, but they just want what’s best for you.

I think you’ve got to re­ally plan for your fu­ture. How­ever bor­ing it sounds, un­less you are a Mo Farah or a Jess En­nis-Hill and you’re go­ing to make enough money so you don’t have to do any­thing for the rest of your life, it’s prob­a­bly not go­ing to hap­pen. You have to re­ally fo­cus and have a sec­ond plan, a sec­ond ca­reer.

To be an ath­lete you have to be very self­ish. But don’t for­get how many sac­ri­fices other peo­ple make for you as well. I think some­times peo­ple lose sight of that.

Treat oth­ers how you want to be treated your­self. Be nice to peo­ple around you. Just be­cause you might have the big­gest jovial joker in the train­ing group and you think, ‘he’s go­ing to be all right, he’s full of en­ergy’ – in­side, he might not be.

Check on peo­ple, make sure they are all right. Talk and lis­ten.

In the spot­light: Iwan Thomas takes to the ASICS Black­out Track

Iwan Thomas beats Roger Black in Birm­ing­ham in 1998 to win the AAACham­pi­onships 400m ti­tle

Thomas has worked withPrince Harry and the Heads To­gether char­ity

From in­ter­vie­wee to in­ter­viewer: Iwan Thomas chats to Mo Farah on the in-field

Iwan Thomas raised funds for the Macmil­lan char­ity by com­plet­ing the Lon­don Marathon in 2016

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