Published 1 August 2012
Great Britainís gold medal rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning are "the most deserving of people", according to the teamís psychologist.
Dr Chris Shambrook, University of Brighton graduate and sport psychologist for Great Britain's rowing team, was in the capacity crowd today (1 August) at Eton Dorney watching Helen and Heather claim the nation's first gold medal of the London Olympics.
Their triumph in the women's pairs made them the first British female rowers to win an Olympic title.
Minutes after their success, Dr Shambrook said: "We've been privileged to watch the most fantastic of performances. Helen and Heather prepared brilliantly – this could not have happened to two more deserving people.
"I can't take credit for their success – it was all down to them."
Dr Shambrook completed a sport science degree and a PhD in psychology at the University of Brighton. He has been the sport psychologist for the GB rowing team since 1997, meaning London is his fourth Olympic Games.
Before the Games Dr Shambrook, who has previously coached GB rowing teams to medal success at the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Games, said: "Being an Olympian is about being obsessed with performance," said Chris. "Winning is critical, being constantly on top of things, being on top of your competitors, that obsession comes to life in different ways."
Dr Shambrook's role was to keep the athletes focused and to maintain a tried-and-tested routine. In the past, psychologists weren't even considered. But nowadays, in a rowing team, coordination is essential because everyone has pull together as though they are one, that's physically and mentally and the role of a psychologist is commonplace. Dr Shambrook says the right frame of mind is essential.
"Just from a communications point of view, where you've got two, four, eight people in the same boat trying to deliver the same plan under pressure, how effectively have you made sure that all of those psychologies have met together to be completely one hundred per cent clear in their thinking under pressure to respond as one?"
Dr Shambrook added: "There's an underpinning philosophy to help inform someone how to develop their mental fitness, but it's also got to be delivered through an understanding of the specific psychological demands of the sport. I want to make sure it is very accessible and easily applicable to either training or competitive situations, so it's finding what works mentally for the athlete or the coaches, and then explaining that by the theory, as opposed to trying to foist a theory on them.
"We will be making sure that there is a very clear understanding about the role of psychology in delivering performance when it matters and how to take the lessons learned from those competitive situations, so when it comes to the Olympic environment the athletes are going to have a very clear idea of how to get their minds right."
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