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Brighton sports psychologist coached Team GB's first gold medallists
1:12pm Wednesday 1st August 2012 in News
A Brighton sports psychologist has helped rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning to win Great Britain's first London 2012 gold medals.
The Great Britain rowing team's sport psychologist Dr Chris Shambrook, a University of Brighton graduate, was watching the pair triumph today.
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.
“Winning is critical, being constantly on top of things, being on top of your competitors, that obsession comes to life in different ways.”
Family and friends roared in the stands at a sunny Eton Dorney as the medal-winning day began.
The pair high-fived before lying back in the boat after a deafening roar saw them cross the finish line.
Glover, 26, a former PE teacher from Penzance, has been rowing for only four years after starting through the Sporting Giants scheme, which was set up by UK Sport to identify British sporting talent with a view to London 2012.
Stanning, 27, from Lossiemouth, Moray is a captain in the Royal Artillery and the women were paired together in the Bath training programme only three years ago.
Their dominance this year was born out of the frustration of being beaten into silver by New Zealand at the 2011 world championships by just eight-hundredths of a second.
The pair were home favourites for the race after setting an Olympic record of six minutes 57.29 seconds as they won their heat.
Dr Shambrook’s role was to keep the athletes focused and to maintain a tried-and-tested routine. 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.”
Dr Shambrook attended the University of Brighton from 1988 to 1995.