Jamie Staff MBE

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The Olympic and world champion track and BMX cyclist reveals what it takes to become a champion.

Raise Your Game: As a highly successful Olympic gold medallist yourself, what does it take to be a champion?

Jamie Staff: At my first Olympics I just let the whole experience get to me. You're thrown into situations and environments that you're not used to and that you can't really control and this has an effect on your performance.

Profile

Name:
Jamie Staff MBE

Born:
30 April 1973

From:
Ashford, Kent

Events:
Track sprint cycling

Achievements:

  • Silver - Team sprint, World Track Championships, Poland (2009)
  • Appointed MBE in 2009.
  • Gold - Team sprint, Beijing Olympics (2008)
  • Silver - Team sprint, Manchester World Cup (2008)
  • Bronze - Kilo, World Track Championships, Majorca (2007)
  • Silver - Team sprint, World Track Championships, Bordeaux (2006)
  • Silver - Team sprint, Commonwealth Games, Melbourne (2006)
  • World champion - team sprint, World Tarck Championships, Los Angeles (2005)
  • World champion - Keirin, World Track Championships, Melbourne (2004)
  • Bronze - Team sprint, World Track Championships, Stuttgart (2003)
  • Gold - Team sprint, World Track Championships, Denmark (2002)
  • Silver (Team sprint) and bronze (Kilometre), Commonwealth Games, Manchester (2002)
  • World BMX champion (1996)

It takes discipline, structure and you've really got to have the heart and desire to chase it. Sport is a beautiful thing, you can do it for recreation and you can do it because you want to be an Olympic champion. Even if you're not necessarily the best, it doesn't mean that you can't participate.

RYG: Is it important to set goals?

JS: It's good to look at your life goals in terms of being an athlete. Write your goals down on paper and then analyse them to see what you need to do to actually achieve them. Obviously at the Olympics my goal was to win, but I'd break it down into what times I needed to do on the track, how I was going to achieve those times and what things influence my training at home and my life.

I also use a unique method called foundation stones, which sit next to my training diary online on my computer. These foundation stones are everything in my life that affects my riding. It can be your wife, children, finances, illnesses, whether you need a recovery ride, the right nutrition, etc. Everyday I mark green for good, amber for could do better and red is an issue. After a while you start seeing patterns and if there are issues, it makes you address them.

RYG: How do you deal with nerves?

JS: To perform consistently, in events such as the Olympic Games, you need to remove the emotional thinking so that when you're on the line you're not thinking 'I'm winning this for my son' or 'What's my life going to be like after this?' or 'Am I going to let my teammates down if I don't win?.' Don't put that pressure on yourself. If you put logical thoughts into your mind, such as 'Ok, I do this every day of the week at the track you know, I've done it millions of times,' or 'I know I'm a good starter and I know how fast I can ride around this track,' this will take away a lot of the stress.

RYG: How did it feel to stand on the podium at the Beijing Olympics 2008?

JS: It's a relief that you've done it. I was still riding on the track and I started crying and the emotions started to come out. You're thinking of your family, your kids and the huge support network around you so you feel you've achieved it for them as well.

RYG: What would be your advice for young people looking to follow in your footsteps?

JS: Do your research and have a go at all different disciplines of cycling. There's mountain biking, BMX, cycle-cross, road riding and track. There's something for everyone.

Set goals and plan ahead. Ask yourself 'What do you want?' Do you want to be an Olympic champion or are you happy being a recreational rider? Once you set these goals you can sit down and plan how you can you achieve them.

All sports are beautiful, they're positive and give you so many life experiences, as well as keeping you fit and healthy. Sport opened so many doors for me. I've got friends all over the world and it's matured me as a person and that's why I love to give something back and help young people to experience that.


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