BBC2 Interview

I was recently invited on to the Victoria Derbyshire Show (BBC2 & BBC News channels) to discuss the World Anti-Doping Agency’s latest report, its revelations, and the implications on young British athletes. See the interview full below:

@JulzAdeniran

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Gotta Have Faith

“Reflect”.

…My mother’s answer to what I should be doing during these wonderfully awkward days between Jesus’ Birthday and New Years Eve. When no one actually knows what day it is, and the ‘Christmas Truce of 1914’ still allows for a ceasefire on all work emails that seems almost to good to be true!

Taking heed of mama’s advice, on reflection, something that really stuck with me this year were the illustrated reminders of just how unpredictable war in sport is. The most current example being that of Leicester City F.C. Only promoted to the Premier League in 2014, the Foxes this time last year propped up the bottom of the table. A year later and over half-way through the present season, they now sit at the top of the table! And deservedly so, having outplayed and outscored nearly every team in the league so far this season. 

As if to juxtaposition this, Chelsea, the reigning champions, inexplicably dangle above the relegation zone(?!). Having, even more unthinkably, just sacked their prized manager Jose Mourinho – only the world’s most successful football manager of the modern era. A mind-boggling scenario, that even the highest regarded football pundits struggle to explain with logic or convincingly.

2015 has served up some startling warnings over the ‘folly of prediction’ in sport. But upsets occur every year. Right? The result that brought the rugby world to a standstill in September, when Japan did the unthinkable against the Springboks. Unimaginable? Sure. But just another sporting upset where the underdogs simply ‘beat the odds’. I mean we’ve all lost an accumulator to a surprise result before.

Maybe. However, they say faith is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen”. And what’s been clear to see this year is that when sports-people subscribe to this belief system, even the most mythical hammer of thunder can be lifted, and the most stuck of swords in a stone can be retrieved. Just ask Tyson Fury or Conor McGregor.

The former I still hold responsible for my dry cleaning bill, after he sent Piccadilly sports bar into zoo-like theatrics the moment his hand was raised in victory on that fateful night in Dusseldorf. Never had the word underdog been used so precisely. To put it in perspective, his opponent Wladimir Klitschko was an unbeaten World Champion of 11 years, and had won more world title defences than Tyson had had professional fights as a boxer. Even Lennox didn’t see it coming…

Version 2

Neither was the latter a result I’d envisaged. Among the selection of my own words I was subsequently forced to eat: “Ollie mate, much as I love the hype, McGregor needs to simmer down with all this trash talk, my stomach is starting to turn at just how cringe it’s gonna be when he gets knocked the funk out”.

Boy. was. I. wrong.

13 seconds. That was all it took for the Irishman to stun the world by knocking out unconscious an unbeaten and ‘unbeatable’ decade-long World Champion in Jose Aldo. Rewriting folklore and proving it’s possible to go from being an unknown wannabe, training on the dole collecting state hand-outs in 2013, to becoming a World Champion just two years later.

So what are my personal sporting predictions for the forthcoming year? It seems your guess could turn out to be as good as mine. All I know is, I have complete faith that I will achieve my not-so-secret goals for 2016. And at this point I’m pleased to report that the 13 consecutive weeks of gruel we collectively coin ‘winter training’ has been the most successful and comprehensive October to December groundwork I’ve ever strung together. Take a look and place your bets:

Here’s to mountains moving in 2016! Happy New Year!!!

@JulzAdeniran

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Guest Blog: When Life Gives You Lemons

Foreword: you only have to scroll your facebook timeline to see that sharing good news is infinitely easier than sharing bad news. And often when things go from bad to worse it can be difficult to publicly pen down any news at all (hence the lengthy gap since my last BLOG, sorry!). In summary, April-August has been an exhausting 5-months of fire-fighting. Specifically, trying to put out 3 consecutive incidents of the dreaded i-word. Injuries are of course part-and-parcel occupational hazards for all pro athletes, though not for everyone in equal measure. However, it is the timing (and frequency) of injuries that can be so cruel, and ultimately, career defining.

The engine failures I’ve been struck by this summer placed me out of contention to be selected for the Commonwealth Games and recent European Championships. Competing whilst injured, twice (disclaimer: kids do not try this at home) meant I managed to salvage a UK Top 10 ranking and selection for the European Club Championships in Portugal for the first time, but with consolation comes little satisfaction.

Someone who has been a real inspiration to me, in how they’ve handled being dealt a similar black-jack this summer, is friend, Uni mate, and fellow dream-chaser Non Stanford (pictured left). A penciled in Commonwealth Gold Medal favourite at the start of this year, her honest and open account shows how these sometimes unforeseeable and inexplicable speed bumps can slow down even the very best in the world. This was was an uplifting and cathartic read for me, and for many others currently dealing with setbacks I’m sure #keepjuicing. So without further ado, please enjoy a guest blog by Non, ITU Triathlon World Champion 2013:

When life gives you lemons…

Well I’ve pretty much got a swimming pool of lemonade out back right now.

And last week I got my second truckload of freshly delivered lemons.

I can’t quite believe that I’m sat here having to write this. I try to avoid using my blog as an avenue for venting frustration and making excuses. But after 3 months of avoiding questions of when I’ll be back and how things are going, I thought I would provide some answers and explanations. Well in my own round about way at least. After so many humbling messages of concern and support I feel it’s the least I can do.

The first delivery of yellow goods arrived back in March when I tore my plantar fascia. At first I didn’t quite know what I was supposed to do with them. I definitely quietly contemplated their presence for a few days. Was I supposed to simply ignore them and hope they disappeared? Maybe throw them around aggressively and let everyone else know how damn unhappy I was that they had inconveniently, without being ordered, arrived on my doorstep?

I considered the latter option. But I feared a back splash of lemon juice to open wounds would be quite painful. Plus I guessed no one else would massively appreciate the potential mess it would leave.

So instead I decided to crutch them out back and crack on as best I could. I was pretty lucky that I had great team of people and the sweetest group of friends to assist me. I kept smiling, stayed positive and tried to enjoy doing something different for a change.

Come May I’d pretty much juiced all the lemons. There were a few remaining but I was working hard to finish the job. It looked like the lemonade would be ready just in time for summer! I missed a few parties but the promise of doing the funky chicken in London kept me going.

Unfortunately London rolled around quicker than I could work. The final product wasn’t quite sweet enough. It definitely left a slight bitter taste in my mouth. It was one of the tougher days for sure.

It was also that weekend that the rumbles of the next delivery could be heard. An unexplained pain in my ankle started to bother me. As a rehabbing athlete I was on high alert, and any new pain caused mild panic. I’m incredibly lucky to have a great medical team at my fingertips, ready and willing to listen to my irrational worries!

Within a day I was lying in an MRI unit. And by the evening? Yep turns out lemons can be delivered after 8pm. Now that’s customer service for you.

“Navicular stress response” said the delivery man.
“@*$! off” I replied.
I thought the driver had got the wrong address. I couldn’t possibly have a stress response.
“I’ve barely run a step since March!” I pleaded. “These are not my lemons!”

Turns out they are my lemons. Looks like it’ll take a couple of months to make palatable lemonade with them too. Apparently Glaswegians don’t like lemonade either. But I’ll keep juicing regardless.

I’m hoping my lemonade will be ready for a Canadian summer. But these things can’t be rushed. It’ll have to be a work in progress, only to be drunk when it’s sweet enough. I guess that’s in the hands of the lemonade gods.

And I suppose, after all this, it’s a good job I quite like lemonade!

@NonStanford

check out Non’s website: www.nonstanford.com

Lemons suck!

 

 

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Get On Track

Having sat out the Indoor season last year, still nursing a knee ligament rupture from a hospital bed, the chance to ‘get on track’ this year is all I humbly asked for from Saint Nicholas – i might add, having been a good boy all year! However these past two months, Fate – smug as ever, with its predetermining powers – harboured very different plans.

The most consistent period of Winter Training I’ve ever managed, 10 consecutive weeks without so much as a hiccup, threatened to suggest a promising Indoor showing lay ahead. But clearly that would have made for a story far too boring: boy trains hard –> boy races –> boy wins –> boy earns shiny medals. The End… “Yawwwn”!

Fate agreed… I hate Fate.

Instead, as if to thicken the plot, Fate would have it just as preparations for the first Indoor competition of the new year were concluding, lightening – spitefully perfect in it’s timing – struck.

Twice.

The first of these fateful events is one of few ‘You’ve Been Framed’ moments I’ve starred in to be caught on camera; and so without further ado, the premiere of ‘How Not To Snatch’, enjoy:

*Cue* half-pint of blood gushing from face, and concussive symptoms for the next 3 days – ‘Bro-science’ details this was inevitable comeuppance for wearing ‘girly gloves’ in the weight room. —Be warned!

Painful? YES. Bloody painful. But not overly disastrous you’re thinking – after all facial features have very little to do with hurdling mechanics, a point proven if you’ve ever seen some of the Russians I have to compete against. Fate you see was saving itself for an encore just a few days later, a proverbially ‘twist in the tale’ to this less boring storyline.

Said encore was to be less ‘You’ve been Framed’ and more “Are… you… *!$%¿… kidding me”. Having burnt the cursed gloves and learnt how to avoid self-inflicting another ‘Captain Falcon Uppercut’, I made my way through the Friday afternoon gym ‘graveyard-shift’. Completely unaware of the snake in the grass: an inch and a half long rubber lip, stealthily protruding out from the top of a plyometric box we perform explosive jumps on to… Need I go on?

In a nutshell, a trip hazard, which when triggered makes light work of crushing ones hip cartilage and enforcing an instant 8-week lay-off… rah rah rah, REHAB, rah rah rah!

(Fast-forward two enthralling months of treading water) And so, having successfully ticked off number 57 of the ‘101 injuries in elite sport’, focus now turns to the month of May. Where the start of the Outdoor Season presents the next opportunity to finally… Get On Track!

Meanwhile, a welcome distraction from this longer than expected countdown to competition has been the start of a new youth project, of the same namesake, I’ve been supporting as an Athlete Mentor. ‘Get On Track’ is the flagship programme delivered by Dame Kelly Holmes’ Legacy Trust, aimed at helping disengaged and vulnerable young people to find a way back into employment, education or training.

Working with others who haven’t had the opportunities and support systems we sometimes take for granted is a humbling experience. It puts into perspective how much of a head-start so many of us don’t even realise we’ve had. To be able to draw upon my experiences in sport, of dealing with setbacks and persisting to work towards goals, to help young people who’ve slipped off the beaten track is hugely rewarding.

It’s a fantastic programme, which has now persuaded the backing of the government (Sport England) in a massive way. Having witnessed changes already, in the mindsets and soft skills of my mentees, over the first few weeks of the delivery; it really is a privilege to be a part of a project that will no doubt have a profound impact on their futures. 

@JulzAdeniran 

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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Last week I was out for dinner with some friends from Uni’, whilst sharing how well training has been going recently one of the guys innocently asked: “so, do you have anyone that like helps you with training now”. A pretty normal question I guess, but it got me thinking…

At first I was a little surprised that anyone would entertain the idea that I or any other sportsperson achieves what they do without help from others. But on second thought the opposite isn’t obvious either, especially in individual sports. I’ll admit, eyes glued to the screen that evening, not once did I bear thought to the enormous team effort, over many consecutive years, it must have taken for Tom Daley to have been able to execute that last 3-second dive we saw win him Olympic bronze… the years of being ferried to and from training sessions and competitions by his late father… the hours, days and months of coaching instruction… the hundreds of sports medical appointments… I could go on.

This is often referred to as the ‘Iceberg Effect’: an observation where only a very small amount of information concerning an achievement or phenomenon is visible to spectators (e.g. the execution of a dive in an Olympic final… a.k.a. the ‘tip’ of the iceberg).

What’s largely never seen, below the surface, is the decade of dedication, the sacrifice and the support along the way from an army of people, which precedes a medal winning performance. Whatever the field, surrounding yourself with a good team is almost always essential to succeeding. A reality which became abruptly apparent to me when I unexpectedly found myself on crutches just weeks before last year’s Olympic trials.

As it happens these last 10 weeks of Winter Training has been my best period of training ever. I owe much of this to the amazing team currently supporting me to train and compete. So here’s an insight into just some of the team members who make up the underside of my iceberg:

 

COACHES

Coaches are the masterminds behind an athlete’s performance. They are the people we spend hours with nearly every single day of the year. They set your sessions, decide your competitions and guide your journey. I’m blessed to be able to work with Eli Binks and Tony Jarrett, who between them have over 50 years experience of coaching and competing at the highest level.

 

STRENGTH & CONDITIONING

Strength, power and injury prevention are vital aspects of nearly every sport. I’m fortunate to have a fantastic Strength and Conditioning coach who personally trains me in the gym and tailors a performance programme for me all year round. I’m even more fortunate to have the support of Fit Performance, an awesome gymnasium and personal training facility in Essex, check them out: www.fitperformance.co.uk

 

PHYSIOTHERAPY

Also known as ‘The Magician’, Greg of Health and Fitness Solutions is the man who heads up this first class pit-stop crew. Simply put, their regular maintenance is what keeps me in the race and able to knock out lap after lap. King’s Speech’ factoid: Greg treats me in the same space on Harley Street that King George VI received speech therapy from Lionel Logue – treatment fit for a King! www.hfs-clinics.co.uk

 

OSTEOPATHY

Poora with Rory McIlroy, Torben with Peter AndreThese two guys are literally the backbone behind everything I do physically. I swear they must have mythical healing powers to take away aches and pains you didn’t realise you even had, or in my case help me return from a serious car accident and then a career threatening injury. Between them they treat Olympic Gold medallists, PGA Tour golfers, WTA tennis stars and numerous celebrities:  BIRMINGHAM (Poora – www.psosteopath.co.uk)                           LONDON (Torbenwww.london-osteopath.com)

 

MASSAGE & SPORTS THERAPY

John of Alleviate Therapeutic Massage Clinic is an absolute God-send! Sports Massage is an intrinsic part of every professional athlete’s maintenance, rehabilitation and preparation for competition. I’ve been treated by countless practitioners over the years but John remains my first choice, I can’t recommend him highly enough: www.alleviatetmc.co.uk

 

RECOVERY & SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY

If you haven’t floated, you haven’t lived! Floatworks is the largest centre of its kind in Europe, floatation is a key part of my recovery strategy between training sessions. If you want to get someone a Christmas present they’ll never forger I strongly suggest you consider buying them a Float voucher: www.floatworks.com

 

Merry Christmas!!!

@JulzAdeniran

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Draw a Line Under It

So I’m sat in Newark airport lounge waiting to board my flight back to reality. We start a fresh tomorrow. Winter training begins in less than 24 hours, but my immediate focus is to try and hold down last night’s liquid dinner until we’ve crossed the Atlantic. Yesterday’s Birthday shenanigans in Las Vegas’ little brother Atlantic City, was officially the last toast of the off-season, and enough to put me off both alcohol and sin cities for at least a year; and just as well.

The 4-5 weeks between the end of the athletics season and the start of the next come as a welcome break from the daily toil of an otherwise restless regime. It’s far more than necessary respite, it’s a complete rebel in lifestyle. Personally, I make it my mission every year to squeeze into these few weeks as much junk-food, jet-setting and as many ‘nights I can’t remember with friends I won’t forget’, as possible. This year has been no different!

Living for the nights I can't remember, with people I won't forget!

And so a big shout-out to all of you reading this who’ve helped to lead me astray over this last month, you know who you are! I guess the theory is, indulging in all things frowned upon during this downtime will aid efforts to stay disciplined once the training year begins again – and ‘monk life’ resumes!

However, the past month hasn’t all been one big binge; before a short but sweet escape with my best friend to visit relatives in Jamaica, I took up the opportunity of doing an internship at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Freshfields is a magic circle global law firm, 6th biggest in the world, with a particular appreciation for the transferable talents of elite sportspeople. Spending nearly 3 weeks as part of the Dispute Resolution team, in their London and New York offices, was a thoroughly enjoyable and invaluable experience. A huge thank you to Sally, Ed, Dwayne and Lucy in London, and Ashley, Rob and Dan in New York for going far above and beyond the call of duty to ensure I got the very most out of my time with the firm.

Years ago I toyed with the idea of continuing a legal career alongside my sporting ambitions; but it’s abundantly clear that to achieve anything like the successes of our Olympic heroes, you have to channel every waking breath into your craft (and then pray a whole host of other things, out of your control, also balance in your favour!). With this in mind, it was great to meet and gain perspective from Sophie Hosking during the internship. Sophie’s an ‘Oar’-inspiring Olympian, who’s ever so kindly laid down a very straightforward blueprint for me to follow: SEE HERE ……easy-peasy, right!?

And so, T-minus 23 hours until the next chapter begins: the 2014 athletics season! It’s such a relief to finally be able to draw a line under the 15month rehabilitation of my Cruciate Ligament rupture. Disappointingly, I didn’t break any world records this year for miraculous recovery. Medical opinion suggested 2013 would largely be a case of me finding my feet and very gradually returning to European level competition. Needless to say, I’ve grudgingly played this role as cast. But with the Commonwealth Games and European Championships both on the horizon there’s fresh opportunity to dig deep for the precious metals that lie in wait to be claimed this coming season.

@JulzAdeniran

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The Price of Success

Don’t get me wrong, I, like most people enjoy a good ol’ motivational quote every now and then. A carefully assembled and seemingly wise or inspiring set of words you personally identify with. Perhaps these words embody what it is you’re striving for or maybe they just validate your existing beliefs or a personal experience you’ve had. Whatever the reason, it’s all positive, which I guess can only be a good thing.

Although the skeptic in me tends to acknowledge these, often ‘Gandalf-esque’ mumbo-jumbo, dictations with a pinch of salt. It’s not that I find them patronising or self-righteous, quite the opposite, it’s just… Are all these quickly forgotten written reminders, that saturate my Twitter feed and stare at me everyday on Instagram, really all that necessary? My thought being, 99% of the time people already know how they ‘should be living’, what’s ‘right from wrong’ or what it is they ‘should be doing’ to get them from A to B. However, even with all the wisdom, theory and know-how in the world –  when it comes down to it – surely it’s only the ‘doing’ that actually counts.

This… is the part people tend to struggle with. And I’m sorry but even Gandalf can’t help you help you here.

Ironically, my point is no better summarised than by one of my favourite quotes, from Carl Lewis:

“There are 3 keys to success:
First work out what you want to achieve.
Second work out the price associated with that achievement.
Third pay that price.
…Most people only do 2 out of 3.”

Recently I’ve being paying some of “that price”. A sudden respiratory infection, requiring a stay in A&E (Déjà vu I know), triggered by a flare-up of my asthma. An untimely consequence of hard training, working silly hours and not enough rest. Frustratingly this stopped me from competing in the British Championships which you may have seen last weekend on BBC2. Even more gutting, this means I won’t be participating in the ‘Anniversary Games’ at the Olympic Stadium this coming weekend; an event that had been a really big motivation during the toil of rehab… !$% ¥#¡… – please excuse my french.

So whilst feeling sorry for myself, stuck in bed during this heatwave and trying my best to control the dangerous urge for Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s, I randomly stumbled across a docu-film online. It’s called ‘The Price of Success’ and it breaks down the harsh reality of what some of the most successful athletes ever, have had to endure along their paths to glory. It really put into perspective what is to be expected along the way if do you really want to succeed, bearing in mind in sport and especially in a pure sport like athletics, success at the end of the grind is still far from guaranteed – as Susanna Kallur (World Record Holder 60m Hurdles), bluntly emphasises: “You sacrifice everything, for what you might achieve”.

This is a Mission Possible that I have chosen to accept. Despite this most recent setback there are still 6 weeks remaining of the 2013 season and I’m determined to make the most of the opportunity, no matter what it says on the tag.

It's true!@JulzAdeniran

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