#266 – Controlling The Controllables With Olympic Champion Amy Williams

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service on the episode today we have Amy Williams. Amy, welcome.

Thank you. Thanks for having me. It is my pleasure.

Normally, first question I asked with anyone who has some profile is Amy, Who are you?

Oh, sometimes I wish I knew what that answer was myself. Well, I’m Amy Williams, I um More known for winning a gold medal in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. But I guess since then I’m a mom of two boys, I’m a personal trainer, I do motivational talks and speeches. Um and I guess now I can add an author actually last year I wrote a book that’s been published so I would say a little bit of everything I am. I I’m just winging it at life basically. Well congratulations on all that stuff. Normally I say congratulations for being an author but I kind of feel like the gold medal trumps author a little bit but I wanted to ask you about your story and I think I think people discount the all the work up until the big moment.

So before you were known as the gold medallist. Amy Williams, what were you doing prior to let’s say choosing your sport and in the run up to that. Yes. So for me I mean sports and being active and outdoors has just always been in my life in our family. Um I grew up without a TV. So we were just outside playing. I say we I got a twin sister and an older brother we just played outside in the garden. In fact the neighbours kids you know good old fashioned out and about in the woods getting dirty and messy and then I think the love of sport grew we kind of did quite a bit of swimming and swimming clubs and I guess for me finding an athletics club in my teenage years, I just loved it. So the kind of running sprinting, pushing your body and seeing how much better you could become. And so that kind of led me into really bumping into some people in the University of Bath gym one day when I was doing some athletics and they happened to be skeleton and bobsleigh athletes and I just kind of nosing my way on down to their sprint session on the push track um and sort of got myself involved in the sport and then sort of year on year got more and more involved and part of the program until it just became my my whole life was then skeleton, winter and summer life going away competing, training uh and yeah, it just became that obsession.

You said that you loved sport or being active. What would you say? Let’s say if someone asked you that question at the time, what would you say in terms of why you love sport? Yeah, that’s tricky. I think um I think when you go back to why lots of people do sport, it is that play element, it’s switching your brain off from anything that’s really happened in the day. I think if you speak to I know someone in their fifties who still does five a side football on a Tuesday night with their work colleagues or a teenager who’s doing netball, they do it to switch off and release and to obviously exercise fitness, get fit motivation but also to play and to be with other people and I think whether you’re an individual sport or a team sport it means a lot of different things to different people. So for me it was it was it was the exercise, it was the fitness, it was having fun. Ah and then ultimately it always came from within with me.

It was always that ha I wonder if I can run faster well if I train a little bit harder and do a few more training sessions and I do a race, you know the next weekend or the next year will I be any quicker And I guess that just kind of grew from within that sort of internal competitiveness. And is that are they the reasons that you would say that drew drew you to the sport of skeleton as well? I mean honestly finding skeleton was just being in the right place at the right time and being nosy that one day asking this group of people like what do they do and what what sport do they do? And then yeah that inquisitiveness of like ah you’re going down to the start track, could I come along, could I come and what could I have a go, oh I’m actually quite quick at this And then I they were going off that so this was the summer of 2002, ah and they were going off to do a World push championships in Holland and I asked if I could enter as a guest, so I competed for great Britain in the kind of guest category um and did really well came second overall, had some quick times and so that’s where the performance director who had just come on at the time said, look, why don’t you have a go on the real thing, have a go on the ice, have a go on the track and see if you like it.

So I did, I, I joined an army ice camp, so the military was the only way back then that you could actually compete and take part in the sport and so I joined a two week ice camp in Lillehammer in Norway and that was my first experience of having a go on the actual ice and I guess being brave and just putting yourself out there and given something could go that you might have been good at or you might not have been good at, but until you try something, you don’t really have a clue which way your path could kind of take you and lead you, How long was that timeframe between when you took it up when you did your first run and then when you were actually taking it seriously for great Britain to be honest, like um yeah, like pretty soon because I did that for those first runs in October of 2002 and then that kind of winter season um it was kind of like maybe one or two weeks away would come home for like four weeks and then you’d maybe go away. I went out to Calgary on a skeleton school with a few other kind of athletes and so it was kind of backwards forwards, There was tiny, too tiny bit of funding in the sport, but not that much, so we couldn’t just spend the whole winter months away like people do now and like I did in my later career, so for those first few years it was, you know, 23 weeks away, come home for a bit, three or four weeks away, come home backwards forwards and yeah, that’s where I just kind of didn’t stop, it just progressed more and more.

And then as we had more funding within the sport, we then could spend four or five months, 5.5 months away, the whole entire winter going completely on that competitive circuit circuit and then ultimately racing every single week on the, on the world Cup circuit. So would you say how long before you like, got the bug for it when you were like thinking about it when you weren’t doing it? Yeah, I guess to be fair, pretty much straight away and I think it was more, it wasn’t necessarily an absolute love for the sport of skeleton, but it was that that pushing yourself, it was that what can I achieve? What can I do, how much better can I become? And I guess it just so happened that skeleton was the sport and that’s what I kind of stumbled into and then there is something very addictive of lying on that sled at the top of an ice track and we’re talking a centimeter left or right going into a corner can really affect what happens in a corner and how you come out of it and you’re learning about the tracks, you’re learning about the ice, you’re learning about your equipment and how you and your piece of equipment can get down that track with the fastest lines.

So we’ve all watched, you know, your Formula One and you are talking like millimeters between the cars and how they enter and exit a corner to who gets those hundreds of a second quicker. And thats what our sport is like. And so I guess that becomes, yeah, very addictive and your love of the sport just grows over time until obviously as a kind of love affair with you and your sport. So my perception is that there is a type of person who would look down at that track and perhaps say I’m gonna pass, no thanks to that one. Um and someone who would be very nervous about it and others who would think, yeah, this is, this is for me, what’s your take on those personalities and what it meant for you, I think you can be every single one of those people and that was definitely me. I mean you’re petrified when you go down for the first time. Second time, third time, it’s something that you can’t explain, you can’t just practice it back at home, you know, it is a kind of throw yourself down literally headfirst, there’s no breaks, there’s no way of stopping once you’re on, that’s it.

And crashes are bad when you learn you can injure yourself, you can hurt yourself, but you, you start halfway down the track and you lie on the sled and someone pushes you off and then you very slowly getting to the top of the track and then obviously if you sprint at the top of the track, you’re going to increase all those speeds, but I definitely was not the most confident athlete, I definitely had fear respect for the track and yeah, you know, if it goes wrong, it really hurts like you’re black and blue with bruises in those first. Yes. Um, but yeah, you kind of that, that adrenaline, that excitement and then the whole sport making friendships and I have incredible friendships from all over the world now of my fellow competitors that became, you know, you really, really good friends and so that’s the other side of sport, kind of a bit like the beginning we said about playing and making the friendships in the community and that life.

Well this is a question that I have only been able to ask once before I got to say one of my favourite questions. How do you become the best in the world at something? That is a big question? Well, ultimately, I don’t probably have the answer, but you know, it’s the kind of all bodies, it’s being driven, it’s having that determination, it’s being deter determined, it’s working crazy hard, it’s being focused, You have to have that major big goal, what is it that you want to achieve? Um and then you’re breaking that goal into tiny little pieces, you know, break it down into those little bite sized chunks. Um turn every single one of those little goals into like a little gain into a little 1% improvement. Um and yeah, perfecting your skill, not expecting too much too soon, an athlete’s life has highs and loans throughout its whole competitive career, even in, you know, year 10 or 15 of doing a sport, you’re still gonna have those high moments and low moments and I think if your focus and your passion and your heart really wants to achieve something, you think outside the box, you think of a way of being able to do it, you ask other people for help You surround yourself with good people that are going to help you achieve your goal and that passion.

Um yeah, when you stay focused ultimately for me, definitely the blinkers went on, I missed out on the Turin Winter Olympics in 2006 and I really, you know, my heart was set on going to those games. I was you know, driven. I’d done all the hard work. I haven’t missed a training session, but I didn’t know for me that actually really put a big fire and passion in my belly of making a big promise and a goal to myself that in four years time I would be at Vancouver olympics and my feet would be on the start line. And so that became a real blinkers. Every decision of every day was this is going to help me become a better athlete, yes or no. And I really lived my life by like that. So yeah, you need that passion, that love and incredibly hard work. There’s a great answer I expected as much, but I just just wanted to highlight that. But you did touch on something which perhaps you might be able to help other people with, which is let’s say they are set on a particular goal and it hasn’t been working for them.

What would you say as advice in terms of, let’s say, someone’s thinking about giving up, maybe throw in the towel, what would you say to them? I would say write everything down. Okay, so if you haven’t maybe achieved that goal? Why? Um is it for example? Um you know, you didn’t get picked for a football team or you didn’t get a certain time that you needed in a race. Well, why is it because you weren’t prepared? Is it because you didn’t train hard enough? Is it because you didn’t have the right equipment? Is it because something went wrong on the day? Is it because I don’t know, you’re slightly injured, you know, really look through it. Um, and then I think once you’ve got those facts, you’re going to be emotional about it. But take away the emotion and look at the facts and the figures and go through it. I mean, I think the biggest thing and that I advise people to do is is to do a swat analysis. So, so look at what your strengths are, Look at what the weaknesses are, the things that might be going wrong.

Look at what those threats are. So actually I don’t quite have the best equipment and that is holding me back. And I think if you kind of go through everything, um, and work them out. Yeah. Is it your talent or is it and many other factors that are maybe stopping you from achieving that goal? Are you expecting too much too soon? You know, it can take many, many years in a sport to be able to achieve something can do well. Um, maybe it’s just not your time yet. Like me, it wasn’t my time in Sharon olympics. I needed to wait another four years and that was my time. So yeah, that’s what I would say. Um, it’s really go through your life with a, with a fine tooth comb, break your life down into a pie chart, write down everything to do with your sport. Maybe that’s yeah, equipment, maybe that’s your strength work in a gym, Maybe some speed work. Is it tactics and technical side of your spa thought? Um, is it your, your lifestyle management? Actually, you’re just never quite on time.

You’re always late. You’re always rushing, you’re anxious, you know, all these different things. Um, and then do a swat analysis for every single one of them and you’re, you’ll have a ton of goals to work through and then you’ll be able to see, oh yeah, okay, maybe I shouldn’t give up yet. I’ve got a lot of things to be able to work through, that you could improve on and make those little changes and then see how good you are and how good you can be. Um, Yeah, and maybe, you know what, maybe it’s not your sport. Maybe you can transition your skills across into something else into a new sport into a new skill that you maybe hadn’t thought of. Um, I started off wanting to be 400 m and then I transitioned across into skeleton at quite a late age, you know, sort of 17, 1819. So yeah, there’s always a chance to be able to switch things. Even in business life. Work life, you don’t have to be an athlete switch across into something different? Are you happy with that decision that you made? What? Doing skeleton? Yeah, I mean who knows as before I was one of those kids that I just tried everything.

I actually tried modern pentathlon just before skeleton and was offered a place on their team and you know what, I just chose skeleton because there was less people at the very top a modern pentathlon who are based also in Bath where I lived had a lot of very good athletes that just come from the Sydney olympics. And my only decision of choosing skeleton was I could actually compete for great Britain a lot quicker and faster than if I went and did modern pentathlon, but you never know there’s always that what if what if I did a little bit more or when I was doing athletics I dabbled secretly a little bit with doing pole vault and now I love watching pole vault at any kind of major athletics competition. What if I wonder if I could have been really good at that, but hey, that’s another lifetime. Well thank you for your answer. I think there’s a lot to be getting on with if you are, let’s say wanting to persevere and not knowing why it’s not working out. So I appreciate that. It brings us nicely to the big moment.

So would you mind telling the story of how you won the gold. Oh yeah. So where do I start being at the winter olympics? You get told officially maybe a few weeks before that you’re gonna go. You kind of know you’re going if you’re kind of two spots and you’re the top two ranked females on your team. For example, we headed out to Calgary team holding camp a few weeks beforehand and then we moved on to whistler to Vancouver and there was Whistler Vancouver olympics was set in two sites. There was like the whistler people who were very close sports. So let’s just say your ice skating, speed skating things that were more under a roof curling and then up the mountain in whistler was obviously the mountain ski snowboarding and the bobsleigh and skeleton. So we did a big open, the opening ceremony which I went along to, which to be fair is the moment that it really, really hits you, that you’re going to go to an olympic games.

You’re walking in behind the Union Jack flag, You are in a huge stadium. You have literally spent hours and hours next door in a hockey stadium that no one even knows that you’re waiting there. All the all the audience waiting your turn to be able to walk through into that olympic stadium behind your flag and I think the bars and the excitement and that energy, It’s unreal. We’ve all watched it on the tv but that moment that you’re, the athlete is a very surreal moment, but I think it’s, it likes that passion and any olympic opening or closing ceremony I watch now just has that fire and passion in me. And then ultimately we headed up to whistler and you’re just doing your day job, this is it. We’re at olympic games, but I’m gonna do everything what I normally do in any other competition. You know, you have your whole routines prepared and planned and prepped. We have three days of training, two runs a day to learn the track.

We had done a World Cup race on it the year before and I’ve got a silver medal in those in that World cup race. So I knew me and the track suited each other. I was on form my sprinting. I was the best in the world at my push and yeah, you just needed to go down those six times to learn the track as much as you could to write notes, to watch people to learn from the experience to, to soak it up to soak up the atmosphere. But ultimately, to, to do what you’ve done every other day of your life, to not change anything to not do anything crazy just because it’s the olympics don’t go and eat some weird crazy foods that you’ve never eaten before. That might upset your stomach or you know, don’t suddenly do something different with your equipment that you’ve never, I’ve never done before. So yeah, it was just that normal day job and then an olympic skeleton race, uh, is raised over two days, so two runs a day for two days. Four runs get added up and every single one of those four runs counts.

And so I was fifth off on day one, that was my world ranking at the time. So you went off your world ranking. So my race number bib was number five, it goes off one to however many were in our competitive field. And then for the second run, the slowest person goes off first. Um, and then you go to bed and you wake up and then the fastest person goes off first and then again, it’s reversed order. So I was in the lead straight away. I put down the fastest times I went to bed knowing I was in the lead, knowing I’d put down the fastest times I’ve broken the track record. I felt good. The track felt good. My equipment felt good. Yeah, I was in a really good place physically, physically, I was in a good place, although my back was really dodgy actually, I was high on as many painkillers that I could take working with the physio many, many hours a day just to keep me glued together, shall we call it. Um but I remember that feeling of going to bed and knowing well I could be olympic champion tomorrow, but I also put that thought to the very back of my head because I knew I had to be consistent, I had to do the same thing two more times.

I never let the thought of that end imagining myself on the podium to ever really enter my mind because for me it was about doing the same thing consistently two more times, and that’s all I focused on. Um so yeah, standing off on that last day of racing, first off, smashed another track record, I brought my own track record from the day before, and then it came down to that fourth and final run and the changing room gets emptier and emptier and emptier because you were the last person going off, everyone knows who’s in the lead there at the bottom of the track, standing on the winner’s podium and um I didn’t listen to anyone else’s times. I’ve done a whole practice and my kind of thing was that I didn’t want to focus or listening on the other girls because that would not affect my performance, that was not going to help me get down quicker. I didn’t want to know who was in the lead or what had happened or if anyone had crashed or if someone had super fast time down, that wasn’t going to affect me and my performance and me lying on my sled.

So I literally fingers in my ears, little hum hum hum, um not listening to any of the loud noise and then I knew, you know, I focused, I stood out on the track for the very last time and I just knew I just had to take a big deep breath and this is it do the same thing. Do what you’ve spent your whole life training for and yeah, of course I was crazy, nervous, shaky, shaky legs. There’s a camera literally stuck at the bottom of your feet and I remember thinking, oh my legs are shaking. Like the camera is like zooming in on my shaky foot, but then your head just switches, that’s it. Power forward. I had my little words of eat the ground up sprint as fast as you can load onto that sled. Get into that perfect body position, that perfect aerodynamic form that I spent hours in a wind tunnel perfecting and concentrate counting those corners down 123, doing all my Sears and then over the finish line I didn’t know if I had one.

You you’re so fast, I went to 92 MPH on that on that run, there’s no brakes, you’ve got to go up a steep hill with extra like things soft padding to try and slow you down and everyone else knew I had one, they knew who was in 1st, 2nd, 3rd before I knew. And so it’s only when I get off the sled and coach was at the bottom of the track at the time and he hugs me and he’s like your olympic champion. Um and then you just don’t really know what to do. I mean I’m a naturally very shy person and I look back at it now and I look at videos and helmet still on my head. I don’t even take my helmet off my hood and I don’t shake my hair out. Let’s look pretty here for the cameras and look nice. No, I’ve kind of got my helmet balanced on my head for like all the photos and someone cuts me a Union Jack flag and I’m just so nervous. I don’t even sort of just take the time to like, you know, hang it out properly and put over my shoulders. It’s sort of all in a little twisted, you know, if I could turn back the clocks, I would just take my helmet off and get the flag looking nice and um but then yeah, it’s just wild.

And the biggest feeling you get is just that of relief that you’ve done it. I knew I could win a medal. I knew I could win the olympics. I I knew I was in the best shape and form of my life. I dedicated every day since missing out on Turin to go in and get into those olympics and winning a medal and it was all worth it. So it was yeah, just that kind of relief and that obviously that’s a huge amount of feeling pride that I’ve got a medal for my country. Um and standing on that podium? I had to wait one day to actually get my medal, they kind of grouped together quite a lot of podiums in, in Vancouver had to wait a day and wait for that moment put to have the medal put around my neck. Thank you for that. It’s a great story, feel invested in the outcome as well, even though it’s in the past, but it sounds like you got your priorities right as well, although there are things that you would have done differently, you know, you got you got it done, So, congratulations again. Um how is it different going from, let’s say, non olympic medal winner to, you know, now everyone’s kind of looking at you differently and the demands on you are different supposedly.

What’s that like? Yeah, I guess when you, when you’ve potentially stopped your sport, you’ve retired out of your sport, you can be thrown into a different world and you can decide what that world is going to be. It’s a it’s a tough time when you you finish and you’re transitioning into what is life like not being an athlete as an athlete. It was easy, easy, but hard. But the point is that you knew what you were doing every single day, every single day, you went to the gym and you did your your weight lifting, your sprint sessions um every day was planned out and when you retire away from sport, oh, your diaries empty. So what are you going to do and how are you going to fill it? And what are you gonna do with that? There’s no consistency in your life anymore. But I think for me, I I just had the mindset of giving everything to go and yes, you’re thrown into the limelight after those olympics. I went on tv shows, I was hosting things, I was walking red carpets, I was going on tv shows, I think I just said that, you know, and then asked him to be doing corporate talks and events and going into schools and yeah, you were really pulled around and I wanted to do it all, it was a change, it was putting yourself out of your comfort zone, something you had never done before.

You learn things about yourself and I had to be braver and not as shy and get used to public speaking because actually you had a story to tell and I really wanted to inspire the next generation of athletes. Um and I think you realised that you could do that and your story, you can make it into a powerful thing to be able to help them to make people think differently. So that’s kind of what I’ve ended up doing along with becoming a personal trainer. Um I have some amazing clients and I love giving them the passion of sport and fitness and um you know? Averagely forties, fifties, sixties or the age group with my clients and that’s great because sport and passion and staying healthy and fit and that wellness is a really important thing and a passion that’s always going to stay in my life. So yeah, life now is a little bit of everything. Um I have two wild young boys who are three and five, they keep me on my toes every day.

So yeah, juggling everything. Life is a juggle, no week is ever the same, which I like and I don’t like, sometimes I wish my life was a little bit more boring and consistent and other times I quite like it. I like the fact, I mean after this talk now I’m heading up to Cambridge to do a school talk and then on the train into London to do a business after dinner talk, you know, it’s come home and then I got pT clients for the next day or two and yeah, everything’s a little bit different and it keeps you on your toes, keeps you motivated, keeps you passionate, certainly sounds like you’re still very busy. There are some people who, let’s say if they, if they achieve something as maybe as much as you have or they achieved their goal, shall we say once they get there, there’s kind of a no, not dealing with it very well, perhaps might be one way of saying it. What do you think about that? Um Yeah, I think it’s you don’t quite know how you’re gonna feel after a big major championships or when you’re gonna stop or retire and I think some people can get a bit lost, they haven’t got that focus.

They don’t know who and what they are anymore. I mean, I always laugh when people say, what are you, what do you do? I’m like, oh I don’t know like what am I? I’m like a little jack of all trades now. I don’t really feel like I’ve got a label, you know, and maybe some people need that and they do feel lost and maybe they haven’t got the same support or people around them to help them to be focused. But I think as an athlete it’s quite important to always have in the side of yourself or what would I do if I suddenly have a career ending injury? You know, what is my passion outside of my sport? A lot of my um athlete, ex athlete friends are pe teachers, they all went into the teaching into into sport in schools and that’s where they felt like they could still switch their passion and sport over. And I think it’s all right to not know. I think it’s all right to not really know what you want to do, use people around you.

I think try everything kits, try something, you might not like it okay. I’ll find something else and then I’ll try that and then I might not like that. I’ll switch over and and I think that’s okay. But if you’re struggling then you know it’s speaking to people, it’s being honest and say someone that you’re struggling and you’re a bit lost and you’re not having a good time and and get some help, get someone to help you. You said you chose personal training for your business. What made you choose that I can’t Well, I always thought as an athlete I should really probably get my personal training qualifications because yeah, it’s a backup plan and I did them quite late. I finally got around to it. Um I was actually pregnant with my second child. And so I guess it was sort of just before all the lockdowns happened and I just thought, right let’s do it, let’s get my level 123 qualifications. And I’m very lucky that in my house I’ve got a double garage which I’m sat in now and I converted it into a gym and it’s my little safe.

Haven. I love it. If only I had more time to actually lift all the weights. But I think I just I first of all wanted to do a gym for me because yeah, I love still um trying to feel fit, I still love lifting weights and being in the gym. I can’t do anywhere near to the same level that clearly I did before. I’ve got a lot of knee and back injuries. and so I have to be very careful. But this is where I like to be, this is where I, you know, I love to lift weights and and to get strong and to look after my body and try and stay in shape and then it was the kind of, I guess the start of lockdown almost and when jobs dried up and speaking engagements and schools and you couldn’t go to places and meet people, I thought maybe I should just make up like a little website and put myself out there. I’ve got my qualifications, let’s see if I can get some clients, get them into the gym and it just kind of organically happened and word of mouth and I have some amazing clients from here in Bath where I live.

A few that are zooming, it’s still around the world and country. I’ve got one in America one in Ireland, I had one up north and they still do some zoom e sessions, Some of my clients, if they’re aware that we’re on holiday for two weeks, can we still have our zoom workouts? Okay, yeah, let’s do it. And then I do obviously love having real human beings in the gym. So yeah, it just sort of organically happened and I have, I just do it three days a week in and around looking after my three year old and other jobs and life that comes in. But I, I really enjoy it. I really love it. And yeah, I just love getting other people into fitness and seeing them get stronger and Some clients of mine, they love playing tennis and squash and they’re in the late 40s, 50’s and for them being able to now play squash not taking and to not be sore and to be more coordinated, great. You know what? I’ve helped you do that and you come in here twice a week every week has enabled you to be able to do your other passion and hobby and have more fun doing it because you’re in a better shape and so um yeah, I get really energised by that.

Thank you for that. One of the things which I’ve seen that you’ve done recently from not mistaken is your Ted x talk. Can you tell me about the process of how that came about and how it went? Yeah, I I literally did that a few days ago, the most terrifying and scariest thing of my whole entire life. Honestly. Yeah, I’d much rather go down a skeleton run than do a ted talk. But I got asked um oh, probably well over a year ago and I just kind of battered it off like no, no, no, no, no, I don’t want to do that. I didn’t know much about Ted talks however over the last year I have now watched and listened to a lot and I realised they are a really big deal and it is a big honor to be asked to do one. And then um ironically when I was working across on the isle of man back in May June I present on the T T, the mother of someone who was working on it, came up to me and said, you’re a me, aren’t you? My son has asked you to do the ted talk in bath in October.

You need to reply to his emails. And she basically kind of told me off and I thought, yeah, okay, maybe I really should do it. And I had this big guilt feeling that I had kind of like ignored the emails because I was basically too scared to do it. And I had a little talking to myself and I thought put yourself out there, get out of that comfort zone, Be scared a little bit, have that fear. You know, this is a big goal and let’s do it. So at the age of just turned 40 I stood there more scared than I’ve ever been, stood on that red dot and gave my 10 minute ted talk speech. It’s consumed my life for the last few months. Right in the speech. I mean if someone told me tomorrow, you’ve got to talk for 45 minutes to a corporate group of guys girls, I would have no problem. I wouldn’t do much prep. I’d probably think about it for you know, the hour and prep it up and write some notes and boom, I would do it, but somehow, this 10 minutes, every word matters, every everything you’re gonna say, you gotta have a reason and have that take away and you’re trying to teach the audience something.

And so it was really, really hard, it was the hardest and it took me 34 months to write that 10 minute speech and then learn it, learn it pretty much word for word, so that you nailed it and yeah, it’s consumed me. It was almost like this black cloud over my head that has now been lifted and popped and I have never felt prouder, I was so proud of myself that I did it, I had managed it, I overcame my nerves, I felt like I smashed it. I definitely, I’m going to listen back to it, which is something I never normally do. No one likes to listen to their own voice. I wanna have my script in front of me, listen to myself when it goes out there onto the ted world and actually feel like, oh did I did I get everything down because that 10 minutes went so fast. I felt like I’d only spoken for about three minutes. So um yeah, I did it and I’m chuffed and I just want to lay down for a few months and not do anything that scares me for a while.

We’ll have scoured the internet and unfortunately, although there was a live stream, I haven’t been able to watch it yet because it’s not out the two day turnaround isn’t a thing that ted do unfortunately. But if I’m not mistaken, it’s about controlling the controllable. Is that what you talked about? And I have heard you talk about this before. So for those who maybe can’t watch the ted talk yet, what does that concept mean to you? Yeah, I kind of I think my title was nothing is impossible and I’ve covered a few little bits today but I I talked about finding those marginal gains and 1% and yeah, controlling the controllable as they were really important mantras to me, the control the controllable was a really big one when I was competing because I I really felt like I missed out on the Turin olympics because I did focus on the other girls and I focused a lot on what they were doing in their performances and why were they quicker and better than me? And in hindsight, I think I realised that I probably did spend too much time focusing on them rather than being confident in my own ability and my skill level.

And so those four years from missing out on the Turin olympics into Vancouver was a real turning point and I learned a lot about myself and how I needed to focus on me and my performance and the kind of control the control ables was yeah, focusing on another person and their performance. That’s something out of your control, what they do and how they perform, control what you can, your skills, what you do in the gym, how much you lift, how fast you work, what you know how good you eat, your lifestyle going to bed early and all the things that I can control. And a bit like me saying about that swat analysis, There’s kind of 1% of marginal gains, was about breaking my life into this pie chart and putting everything into your life. Like I said earlier about, you know, if you feel like you want to quit, do this pie chart, right, every single subject, everything about your sport and your life into this pie chart and then do a swat analysis and it is about finding those little one percents, those little gains, those little tiny improvements, those sort of thinking outside the box of how you could be a better person, a business person, parent, you know, school, university life, athletic life, yeah.

And realising that you don’t have to make these giant big massive goals and changes every day. And it could just be those little things, the little bite sized chunks that just kind of nibble away and before you know it, you know, you’re suddenly a second quicker or half a second quicker or you threw that javelin, half a meter longer because you made all these tiny incremental gains. Um so yeah, in a nutshell, that is pretty much what I kind of talked about it on a bit there. That wasn’t a very short answer. No, thank you for covering it. One of the things which I was intrigued about before our conversation was that you have an MBE after your name and I was like, when I introduce you, do I say the MBE and what does that even mean? And apparently it means the most excellent order of the British empire? And I was like, I have no idea what this, what this process is, what that looks like for those that also have no idea what was that like getting that?

Yeah, well it’s incredible. You get to go to Buckingham Palace. I mean a letter comes through to say that you’ve been awarded it and you, it’s, it’s potluck who gives you it, it’s, you know, everyone obviously wanted the queen um and I had Princess anne give me mine um now it would be incredible for the people who get the king. That’s a real different shift and change, but you get to take whoever you want with you, your loved ones, you think you get to people. So I brought my parents along, we went up to Buckingham Palace for the day and just the first time you ever enter those gates of Buckingham Palace is just incredible. I mean very lucky now that I’ve been several times for tea parties and um other different events, but when you’re in that famous Buckingham Palace walking down the corridors, it’s just incredible. I’m very patriotic. It means a lot to me to represent my country and the fact that I managed to win a medal for my country.

So when you go through and it’s your turn and you know you’re right there in front of whoever it is giving you your MB it’s it’s an incredibly proud moment. Um And yes you’re in this kind of I guess club of um ease. Um Yeah which is you know amazing and you know sometimes it’s behind my name, sometimes it’s not. Yeah you got to remind yourself, oh yeah yeah I do have an N. B. And then after that I also got the Freeman of the City of Bath that was awarded to me which was really an honour for my city and where I live. The only female that’s ever been a Freeman of the city of Bath. And you know my name is you know Sir Winston Churchill is on that list and that’s an incredible feeling as well and an absolute honour of where I live and yeah you get these beautiful certificates basically and I have the Queen’s signature in ink you know on my wall at home and I love that it’s it’s magic.

It means a lot. There’s a big life moment for you then. Yeah. Yeah, massive, massive. I’ve been very very lucky to have met many of the royal family and my role within the London olympics was one of the main ambassadors and so I, I looked after William and Kate whenever they were Catherine, whenever they were around in different events and been on many a top table, sat with them. I’ve met um Prince Harry, I’ve I’ve met all the royal family and I’ve been really fortunate and very lucky and very honoured to have been in their presence on many occasions. Um and yeah, I don’t take that lightly. That’s a real honour in a lifetime to have to be able to say that and to have been around them. Um and yeah, it’s my gold medal that’s enabled that to happen. Well, congratulations. Very inspirational to hear your story. And yeah, I think a lot of people can learn from it, so I appreciate you sharing it.

You know, what’s coming next? What’s next for you? What’s next? I mean physically what’s next is I’m straight on a train up to Cambridge and yeah, I’m talking tonight, I’ve got school sports awards at a private school in Cambridge and that would be great because I get to speak to young aspirational athletes, young people and then the next morning I’m zooming into London and I’m going to do an after dinner talk. Actually, this came through one of the bobsleigh boys, they were like, oh God we’re flying out and we’re actually out on the ice competing now, you know, they’re actually the winter season started. So I’m doing a favor and filling in the fact that they couldn’t make it, I’m doing my good need and so yeah, I’ll be talking to do that and and catching that last train home before waking up the next day and having a gym full of my wonderful pt clients. So yes, as always, life is crazy, life is busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Any long term goals on the horizon at all. The long term goals. I’ll tell you what I know at the moment I have to say I actually don’t have any my goal was to to write a book and I did that in lockdown and brought that out and I’m very proud of that, that’s kind of aimed at teenage athletes to inspire them. Um So that was sort of tick, I’ve done my ted talk tick. Um you know I worked on the last winter olympics with euros for I I’m still presenting on the T T. So you know there’s the odd sort of tv roles and and stuff but no at the moment there isn’t any big goal that I’m working towards, I kind of need to probably take a deep breath and reset and look at myself, what is it that I want to do next? I think it’s quite a crazy busy patch and for the next few months I’m just gonna tick along into normal life for a little bit if that’s possible.

Um Well if you’ve been practicing your ted talk for three or four months, I kind of feel like taking, taking a little while off is probably not a bad thing. Yeah, you’re right, well, you know, I’m always saying yes to talks and motivational work and you know, I really enjoy doing that, so you know, I always tell people to get in touch with me if they want me to come into their school or their business, um their workplace, then yeah, I do really enjoy that side of life. Is there anything I should have asked you about today? Oh my goodness, Now I think you’ve probably covered quite a lot, I feel like I’ve blabber about quite a lot, it’s been been great, I told you beforehand, I always asked one question for every guest and that is what does success mean to you? Oh, success, I think for me it is having that big goal, It’s aiming towards it, it’s working really hard, it’s been passionate about that one goal and what it is that you want to achieve, and I think success can be achieving that goal, but success might not be quite achieving that goal, but if you feel like you’ve given it 100% and you’ve done everything physically possible, then be proud of yourself be proud of that achievement that you’ve done.

Um I really think success can be a lot of different things to different people, so for me it is doing the very best and knowing that I’ve done my very best at something to either attempt to achieve a goal or to achieve it. So based on that criteria, amy, would you say that you’re a successful person? Yes. In some things and knowing others sometimes I feel a very unsuccessful money to my two boys, Well I’m yelling at them because they won’t clean their teeth and I need to get out of the door because they’re late for school. I feel like I could do that a little bit better. I think that’s money. Like sometimes I’m like oh there’s always things in life that I feel like you could do better. But on a whole, I think I’m pretty chuffed and proud of what I’ve, the success that I’ve done so far. Well, I think that’s fair. Do you have any closing thoughts for us today? I think um oh my I think find that passion, find that fire in your belly, find something that you love and I think, you know, if you’ve got that one thing that you just want to achieve and strive towards then that’s you know, really important, I think, find that fire in your belly that gets you out of bed every day that really pushes you to want to better yourself and realise that there are highs and lows throughout your life, it’s not always gonna go smoothly, but there’s also that that big thing at the end of it, that you you’re going to feel really, really great when you achieve it.

Amy Williams MBE. Thank you for being a great guest today. You’re my pleasure. Thank you.