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An interview with an Olympic Athlete – James Ellington

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Ever wondered what it’s like to walk in the footsteps of an Olympic athlete? Lifeplus has entered a sponsorship deal with British Olympic athlete, James Ellington, as he continues his incredible and inspirational journey to elite level athletic competition after a major road accident in 2017.

While we’ll be joining him on his journey from today, we wanted to know all about how he got here…from where he started, the wins, the falls, and the motivation!

About James Ellington

  • Sport: Men’s Athletics – British Sprinter
  • Event: 100m and 200m
  • Club: Newham and Essex Beagles

The wins

  • Two-time Olympian (2012, 2016)
  • Two-time Gold medallist at the European Athletics Championships (2014, 2016)
  • Silver medallist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games
  • Two-time champion at British Athletics Championships (2012, 2013)
  • National titles winner from a young age – under 15, under 17 and under 20
  • Finalist of 100m at World Junior Championships in 2004
  • Gold medallist in Junior European Championships

Turning the dream into reality…

James’ aspiration to become an athlete began from the very young age of three years old. He describes himself as hard-headed and it’s this personality trait that meant he always knew what he wanted. At the age of 13, it took him seeing athletics being shown on the TV to know that he wanted to take his love of sport to a professional level. Despite everyone around him telling him that being a professional athlete wasn’t a safe career choice, he continued to dream by pushing for his goals and promising himself to never lose the child within.

This mentality has been proven through the heroic journey James has been through to get to where he is today. A journey always has its ups and downs but what James has experienced is unique and it makes his path to success an inspiration to many.

Read his interview below to discover all about the journey he’s been on to turn his dream into a reality.

Get to know James Ellington…

  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

My biggest challenge has got to be the horrific motorbike crash I experienced in 2017 which left me with a fractured tibia, fibula and pelvis, placing my career in athletics in complete jeopardy. It’s been a long journey of recovery but I’m proud to be back to where I wanted to be. I’ve had many setbacks in my career but now looking back, I felt I had to overcome those barriers to prepare me for the biggest setback of all, which was the crash. They’ve all contributed to developing my mental strength and resilience for any obstacles that come my way.

It’s been an incredibly tough journey but my mind-set had a big part to play in getting me through. Throughout I kept believing in my childhood dream and persevered by keeping things simple and not overcomplicating things, putting too much pressure on myself and getting thrown off track. I took one step at a time and I’ve always said, if I can walk, I can run, and if I can run, I can sprint – and here I am today, back in training for my next big milestone.

  • How has it shaped you?

Fundamentally I still have the same drive and motivation that I’ve always had. The only thing that has changed is that I try to enjoy more of the here and now. As an athlete, you can often get caught up going from one competition to another and forget to take everything in. I try to focus more on living in the moment and celebrating achievements. This doesn’t have to be anything big, simply taking some time to mentally pause in the present and praise myself can be enough.

  • Who is your real-life hero?

This is a tough one. I’ve always admired people for their achievements and I like to see everyone as human. If someone else can achieve something, so can I. Anything is impossible. As a child, Linford Christie was the person I saw winning on TV so I always looked up to him. It’s crazy how things turn out as I ended up being coached by him. Tyson Fury is someone else I admire for everything he went through.

  • What is your mantra?

Be yourself and have integrity in everything you do. I like to think that, with me, what you see is what you get. I’m exactly the same behind the camera as I am in front and I think it’s important to show who you are.

  • What are you most proud of?

Sticking to my word throughout my career and achieving everything I said I was going to achieve – even when everyone thought I was crazy and my career was over. If I put my mind to something, it will happen. Manifestation is key.

  • What are your goals for 2021?

Before, my main goals were to get back running and compete again – and I’ve now achieved that! Now my goals are to make the Olympics team for 2021, and if I perform to the best of my ability, I believe I can win too. It will be tough but I believe in myself.

  • How has your training changed in preparation for selection?

My training has changed to focus more on quality rather than quantity. Instead of training more for the sake of it and risking injury, I’m training more efficiently and making sure every session has a purpose. Nutrition is also a big part of my training. Focusing on taking the right nutrition is something I always knew was important and continues to support me in both my recovery and training.

  • What does your training schedule look like?

I’ve gone from training six days a week to four days a week. Mondays and Wednesdays are the intense days with a track session, followed by a gym session. Thursdays revolve around easy recovery circuits and stretching. Then Saturday is another track session. It’s more intense as it was less compact doing six days a week but now I factor in more time for recovery time as it’s key to support my performance.

  • What do you do when you’re not training or competing?

Music, exploring the outdoors (when not in lockdown) and cars are some of my favourite things. It may come as a surprise to you that I actually love music from Hans Zimmer. I always listen to music whilst I’m training. I tend to listen to more up tempo music, like deep tech house and old school garage, to motivate me whilst I’m training. And if I’m gearing up for a competition, I start off with some of Hans Zimmer’s music and then build it up to some drum and bass. Music is powerful!

  • How do you give back?

I’m always looking for opportunities to give back – whether it’s getting into schools to speak to kids or giving out any boxes of kit. In the past, I worked with Met-Track Athletics to coach troubled kids from my local area. Although the main aim was to coach them in athletics, I took the opportunity to also offer some mental support.

  • What are your goals beyond Tokyo?

Next year will either be the European or World Championships. Whatever happens with the Olympics, as long as I’m physically able to, I won’t stop competing. I will go as far as my body will take me.

  • What makes you, as a high performing athlete, tick?

I focus all my energy on things I’m passionate about and make sure I don’t get distracted too far from that. A way to distinguish a high-level performer is easier to be seen when things get tough. You do see a lot of people crumble at the first hurdle. For me, when things get hard, there’s something in my brain that switches and drives me to carry on. And that’s why my mental attitude has helped me overcome my biggest challenges over the years.

  • What does high performance culture mean for you?

I’m tough on myself but I’m also realistic with my goals. A lot of people think I’m crazy when I say my goals out loud but they’re starting to believe me now. If I ever stop running, I know I will direct the same amount of energy into something else, whatever that may be.

  • How do you keep the team spirit going in athletics?

At the moment I have four or five training partners and throughout our sessions, we support each other by pushing each other through. Team work even in a single sport is so important.

  • And lastly, what is your advice for those starting out?

Forget things fast – it’s important to have a short-term memory when it comes to athletics. You can’t win all the time. I’ve taken many losses throughout my career and if I held on to them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Don’t let them define you!

Join us in following his journey!

We’ll be following James’ next steps as he prepares for his next big challenge of qualifying at National level to be on his way to reach the Olympics 2021. If you want to find out how important nutritional supplements are in his regime and how he’s worked on his mental strength to get him throughout his career, keep an eye out on our Wellness Centre for new articles. You can also keep updated on our social media channels to see how he’s getting on and what else may come from this new partnership with Lifeplus. The opportunities are endless!