Can sport equip you to combat the stress of modern life? We asked 8 athletes to share their thoughts...
For so many of us, sport is an essential part of life but apart from the obvious motive of wanting to stay fit, why do we do it? 8 SunGod athletes share how sport has brought them far more than physical benefits. Be ready to feel inspired...
1. Discover your endless strength like a trail runner
Emergency nurse, Hailey Van Dyk has been running for 7 years. Her time spent running has taught her that she can overcome any challenge she faces in her life.
“Trail running is my form of freedom, my escape from the craziness of life, the time I give myself to be free and do what I love. Through trail running, I have learned that we are so much stronger than we often think we are. Being out there for hours, pushing my body and breaking through the pain and discomfort, I have experienced incredible moments of strength and determination. Now in life, when I am faced with something challenging, difficult, or uncomfortable; I always remind myself that I have done harder things and the possibilities of the strength I feel seems endless.”
2. Build your confidence like a wakeboarder
For pro wakeboarder Joe Battleday - sport has allowed him to relax and truly be himself.
“From day one, I have loved being on the water and being free to ride however I like. When I was a grom – there would always be riders that were stoked to help me out and that definitely gave me a lot more confidence as a kid. Now I'm 19, it’s awesome to be able to help people out just like when I started. I spend a lot of time travelling the world now and it fills me with confidence, going to somewhere I have never been and knowing that there will always be a friendly face ready to show me around and make me feel at home. This shows how rad the wakeboarding culture and community is and I am so grateful for the confidence it has given me to be the best I can be in everything I do in life.”
3. Experience true exhilaration like a sailor
Sometimes it’s too easy to forget to simply enjoy life, however not for Irish Olympic sailor Saskia Tidey. She lives for her time on the water where nothing else matters but her and her 49erFX team.
"49er Skiff sailing is wild, fast, exhilarating and it is the adrenaline rush we 49erFX girls thrive on! It challenges every fibre in your being to push yourself beyond your limits. Sometimes when we are out on the water, we reach boat speeds up to 25 knots. If the thought of that doesn't give you a buzz, then nothing will! In this sport, two sailors must develop a trust in each other which is unbreakable particularly in strong winds, rough seas and under pressure in competition. This coupled with patience and grit determination to overcome setbacks provides valuable life lessons which can help you overcome any life challenge."
4. Forge friendships like a rower
Life's better in company - no one knows this more than British rower and Olympic gold medalist, Will Satch MBE.
"Rowing is a release for me, the tranquility of being on the water is like nothing else, it has got me through the darkest parts of my life. Above all, I value the camaraderie that is born from pushing one another through thick and thin. We’ve been through so much in trying to be the best we can be at what we do and it’s full of ups and downs and highs and lows. We’re on a journey together and this means that I have an incredibly unique bond with my teammates that you simply don’t get in everyday life.”
5. Be mindful like a climber
Sylwia Buczek has been climbing for 13 years and for her, this sport is as healthy for her mind as it is for her body.
"For as long as I can remember, climbing has had a calming effect on me and has filled me with positive energy. When I am on the wall, I always experience a "here and now" feeling with no awareness of anything besides the climbing. Climbing requires you to have total control over your body and mind. To nail a pitch, you must be calm, focused, precise and motivated. To help with this, I have taught myself to think positively. By practicing positive thinking and encouraging positive self-talk, you can gain much more than you think. It can motivate you to get out of your comfort zone and reduce your personal anxiety."
6. Be true to yourself like a cyclist
Eliot Ward has been a road racing cyclist for 4 years having raced motocross prior to that. Racing bikes has always been a part of who he is.
"Expressing myself entirely as 'Eliot Ward' comes only through cycling. The strongest moments for me have always happened on the back of a bike. These moments have been times of physical growth, mental growth, speed, endurance – I could go on and on! Road racing has revealed so much about me and it has taught me that to be more, we have to become more. This can be applied to anything we have the desire and passion to do in life. I am so grateful that cycling has taught me to always strive to be the best version of myself no matter what I apply myself to."
7. Think differently like a kitesurfer
For pro kitesurfer Hannah Whiteley, learning to think 'outside of the box' has always brought positive results.
"Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to discover your passion in life, no matter what it is. For me that is kitesurfing and it is simple – I kitesurf because I am crazy about it and nothing more, don’t be afraid to think a little differently to get what you want! Life is short and if you are not happy doing what you are doing, think outside of the box. It might just be a matter of changing your 'outlook' on life - it has certainly helped me to be happier and healthier!"
8. Be determined like a triathlete
Pro triathlete and Tokyo 2020 hopeful, Tom Bishop owes his drive and determination to his 15 year commitment to triathlon.
"Triathlon has given me so much and above all it has nurtured in me an insatiable drive to succeed in anything I do in life. I like to get things done! When I have up to 5 training sessions a day, there’s no time for delaying and I guess that would transfer over to my everyday life. Sometimes it might appear that I’m impatient but that’s not the case. Most of my life challenges have been related to triathlon, like injury and fatigue. I guess that means I’m pretty fortunate but these challenges often feel catastrophic at the time. I have learned that keeping a clear mind and staying determined has helped me to rationalize these moments."
Incredibly inspirational words from 8 inspirational people for whom sport has positively impacted their emotional and physical well being. The lessons we can learn from sport are endless and it is clear that it can be instrumental in helping us live our best lives - so get out there and get the endorphins flowing!