Craig Pickering, Track and Field Olympian | Youth1

Craig Pickering, Track and Field Olympian

Craig Pickering is a former sprinter and bobsledder who competed in multiple world championship events including the 2008 Olympics. He ran on England's Olympic team in the 4x100m and set a personal best in the 100m sprint at 10.14. Pickering now spends his time in the world of sports science and performance psychology, he has overcome many obstacles in athletic career and shared his thoughts in this week's Y1 on 1:    

How have sports helped you most in life that you can share with our youth athlete readers and their families? 

Probably the biggest affect sports have had on my life was to increase my confidence. I used to be very shy, but having competed in front of tens of thousands of people, I now have much more confidence in my ability. As such, standing up to speak and present no longer worries me, and I am much more confident in all areas of my life. 

When you were younger, did you specifically focus on track and field or did you play other sports such as Soccer, Basketball, etc.  

When I was growing up my parents made sure I tried out a wide range of sports. At various points in my childhood I tried soccer, rugby, lacrosse, hockey, swimming, gymnastics, tennis, badminton, cricket, rounders, and even horse riding. By the time I started secondary school, my main sports were soccer, rugby and athletics. Once I got to age 16, I focused exclusively on athletics. 

Who helped guide you on your path to become an Olympic athlete, are there one or two mentors that stick out?  

I had two coaches who were both influential in getting me to the Olympic Games, although perhaps the one who had the biggest influence was Malcolm Arnold. He took me from a promising 18 year old to an Olympian at age 21, and taught me a lot about how the athletics world works, and how to adequately prepare for competition. 
My parents also had a big influence, they were very supportive, both financially and also in terms of time. They transported me around the UK every weekend for a races when I was growing up, which I can’t thank them enough for. 

You have seen great results in your athletic career on multiple occasions. What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

I think I’m most proud of getting selected for the Winter Olympics in Bobsleigh. I went from knowing nothing about bobsleigh, to in the space of a year being one of the best - it was a very challenging journey which makes it all the more pleasing. I also came back from a career threatening back injury just two years prior, so to overcome that too was really good. 

Injuries have played a significant role in your career. What advice can you give to youth athletes on how to persevere and overcome those obstacles?

The best advice is to be careful, and make sure they learn the correct movements for each exercise. People get injured mostly because they train too hard or move incorrectly; if you can remove those two factors that your injury risk will go straight down.

Were there any pivotal memories from your time as a youth athlete, or even in high school, that shaped your journey to becoming an Olympic athlete? 

Winning a World u-18 Championships medal in 2003 was a big milestone for me. It showed me that I had the potential to be a really good athlete if I took it seriously enough, and was the first time where I thought I might have the ability to go all the way. 

What specific advice do you have for youth athletes? Maybe you can share a bit about “reinventing” your self multiple times and your career now that you are retired from  athletics. 

The best advice is to set a goal, and then decide how you can meet that goal. And every day do something to take you one step towards achieving it. 

With the Olympics coming up, even after the two back surgeries, does the thought of coming out of retirement ever pop up in your mind? 

Not at all, I’m very happily retired and enjoy the freedom that comes with it! 

Is there anything on your journey that you would have changed or done differently? 

I wish I had been able to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics, that would have been something special. I don’t think anything I could have done would have affected that, as my back was in a bad way, so I don’t look back with regrets really. 

Outside of sports, what are some of your other interests? 

I’m very interested in sports science (which is now the area I work in), so I like to keep up to date with on-going research in that field. I also like to read books, using science or crime-based ones, and I like to travel and see new places. I live in Australia at the moment, so I get to explore plenty of places around here. 

Follow Craig on Twitter @craig100m

Also check out his website


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