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Olympic Dreams: About the athletes

Updated Monday, 22nd March 2010

The Olympic Dreams videos explore how a selection of the athletes featured in the 2010 series mentally prepare for competitions and deal with adversity. Below is more information on the athletes we interviewed.

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On the starting line Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images

Tom Daley – high board diver

Tom Daley pictured in front of his medals Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

At only fifteen, Tom Daley is Britain's first ever individual diving world champion. His extraordinary talent for high board diving was discovered when he was just nine years old. But no-one could have imagined then that by the time he was 15, he would have developed the ultimate winning mind, able to cut out all distractions, eliminate the pressure of the world‘s expectations and perform perfect dives. To add to the pressure, Tom was thrown into the public consciousness during his first Olympic experience in Beijing, with the media since focusing not only on his amazing diving abilities, but also personal aspects of his life, such as the bullying he had to endure at school and his row with his old diving partner Blake Aldridge.

Shaunna Thompson – 100m and 200m sprinter

Shaunna Thompston, video still, Olympic Dreams Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

Shaunna is one of the most exciting prospects in British female sprinting, described as one of the fastest teenagers on the planet. Working as a nurse on a recovery ward for stroke victims by day, and training for the 100m and 200m sprints by night, she helped fund her training by appearing on ITV’s Million Pound Giveaway, where she impressed the panel so much that they awarded her £30,000. But her winning mentality was put to the test when she got injured and was beaten for the first time. In the series, we watch Shaunna overcome the psychological effects of this to not only run like a world class athlete but also think like one.

Jessica Ennis – heptathlete

Jessica Ennis Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

At just 23 years old, Jessica won gold at the Berlin World Championships in 2009. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Ten weeks before the Beijing Olympics, she suffered the ultimate nightmare for any athlete – a career-threatening fracture to her ankle as well as two stress fractures in her foot. She went from being a favourite to win gold to not knowing if she would ever compete again. But as soon as she could run without being in pain, Jess began her epic comeback. By the time she flew out to the World Championships, she knew she was in peak physical condition. But will everything she had trained for since she was nine come to fruition?

Andy Hodge and Pete Reed – rowers

Rowers, 2, video still, Olympic Dreams Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

Rowers Andy Hodge and Pete Reed walked away from the Beijing Olympics with golds in the coxless four, becoming national heroes overnight. Surely they reached their ultimate goal? Absolutely not, because 2009 brought them a new and much more gruelling challenge. They were picked for the most prestigious boat race in rowing, switching to a pair and following in the footsteps of Redgrave and Pinsent. After the highs and lows of three world cups, culminating in a loss at the world championships, the pair were left devastated. Did their coach Jurgen give them the second chance they needed to prove to the world that they can be the best? And could their friendship survive a summer of such intensity?

Find out more

Interested in discovering more about the mind of an athlete?

The Open University has launched a new course ideal for those interested in the psychological aspects of sport and exercise participation. Content will be delivered through a selection of sport and exercise case studies, and will offer an insight into topics such as the psychological aspects of sports injury, exercise dependence, and psychological skills training.






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