Oliver Sweeney Meets: World Cup winning England Rugby Player Will Greenwood
How do you walk your own path?
Neurotically with a great deal of stress! I recently watched Michael Vaughans programme on what professional sportsmen do after they retire. I think anyone whos been a professional sportsman sees that fear of retiring at 34. Everyone thinks wow youre so lucky to retire at 34. Yes youve had a great time, youve played in front of 90,000 people and had your name chanted by people, but suddenly its like okay I need to get a job.
What have you been doing since you retired from rugby?
My works been very media based. I work for Sky and The Daily Telegraph and then I do 10 to 12 days for companies like Aviva, JP Morgan, Betfair and Canterbury. Ive written a couple of books too. So the real answer to how do I walk my own path is with great enjoyment when I go home and lock the door and Ive got the wife and three kids and I can just enjoy the day.
Whose shoes would you like to be in?
It was always Take That. Then I became a bit of a Westlife fan. Id like to be the lead on Flying Without Wings! JLS have now taken over. Basically I would have liked to have been in a boy band and done a concert at Wembley in front of 80,000 people.
Are you a bit of a singer then?
No Im totally tone deaf! Thats why I go to Tiger Tiger, rent a karaoke booth and sing like a muppet. To me it sounds great though!
Weve seen your collection of Oliver Sweeney shoes which is your favourite?
I slightly ruined my favourite pair and now you dont make them anymore. They had a black toe with a white bit in the middle and a black back. I usually use your polish but I cleaned them badly - there was some old black polish left on the brush. I still have them though and wear them for weddings. Clearly the England shoes from 2003 with the rose on the back are pride of place. I reckon Ive had those reheeled four times and properly reheeled by Oliver Sweeney so that shows how much Ive worn them.
Why do you have the relationship with OS in the first place?
We were introduced to Oliver Sweeney by Clive Woodward when he took over England. It was all about changing our mindset and feeling special. In the old days we used to stay in Travelodges and the kit was rubbish; you just werent treated as though you were an international athlete. Clive changed that. We started staying at Pennyhill Park, we were introduced to Hackett and then Oliver Sweeney came in with the shoes. I probably got my first pair of shoes in 1997 or 1998 when Woody first took over. Ever since then I genuinely think that other than a trainer Ive never worn a different shoe and if I see anyone with a tatty pair of shoes I tell them to go to Oliver Sweeney immediately!
Why do you like them so much?
They feel great, theyre very cool. Sometimes Im a size 11, sometimes a 12, sometimes a 13, but once I find the right size it fits like a glove. Theyre so well made and as you can see from my collection I still have shoes from 1997.
Youve talked about the different things youve been doing since you retired which do you prefer?
Theyre very different challenges. The Telegraph is a blank sheet of paper every Monday for 40 weeks of the year plus extra articles. Its 60,000 words a year and youve got to be different and interesting and youve got to have people coming back when it comes to the end of the season I like people writing in asking wheres Greenwood? So its that mental challenge to maintain the support levels from your readers. The adrenalin challenge is live TV stuff so that would be Sky. At the end of the Heineken Cup final I was out on the pitch interviewing Man of The Match Brian ODriscoll. The speakers were going out to 90,000 people in the stadium and it was also going out to all the countries taking part. If you start to think about whats going on you start panicking a little bit, but that also makes you feel very alive.
Does that give you the same sort of kick you used to feel on the pitch?
It does - all sports people try and find something that gives them that buzz without playing and live TV certainly does that. Sky are great to me they give me big and tough challenges and its sink or swim. We dont do media training - we just get on with it.
And what about School of Hard Knocks?
Hard Knocks is great. We do that for three months of each year where we go to inner city areas. Weve done North Wales, Liverpool and more recently London. We spent three months with unemployed guys whod never played rugby before. We turned them into a rugby team, got their CVs sorted and then got them job interviews. We try to give them a leg up in life, give them a second chance.
Talking of young guys playing do you think theres a danger of going pro too young?
Thats a great question. Rugby wise I think so. The problem is theres always the exception to the rule. Johnny Wilkinson came through at 19. There are guys that started playing at 18 so a lot of 16 and 17 year olds see that and go after it. They believe they can be the next one. In reality there are 400,000 kids that play rugby and theres one Wilkinson. These young guys get invited into Academies and think they are going to be the next Tuilaghi but then they get cut at 21 or 22 and theyve missed the best three years of their life. My genuine recommendation to most kids coming through is stay at your local club enjoy yourself. If youre that good theyll pick you up and put you straight in the first team which is very different from being in an Academy. Go to college, go to uni, live a little bit - rugby will still be there.
Youve just released On Rugby how did that come about?
A book yes! Lawrence Dallaglio has a publisher called Simon and Shoester so he introduced me to them and we decided it would be good to write two books. The first one is an amalgamation of all the work Ive been doing for The Telegraph for the last eight years. Ive probably done over half a million words for them in that length of time so a book was meant to pick out the best bits and adopt a storyline to put the different chapters together.
And finally whats the story behind your nicknames Shaggy and Twigman?
Twigman was between 12 and 15. Then I matured and became Stick Man as I put on a bit of weight. I would have like to have become The Log but as you can see I am still The Stick! Shaggy was from virtually the first day at Durham University so anyone who knows me from Durham its still Shaggy I had floppy curtains and couldnt grow a beard. Im a complete coward too so Shaggy was the perfect fit. Then I have sort of become Rodney Trotter as times gone on. The Welsh nicknamed me Nicholas Lyndhurst in 2003 so I get a lot of Rodneys when Im in Cardiff!
Oliver Sweeney Meets: Jeweller Joy Everley
We've just launched our beautiful Sterling Silver accessories range that we created with jeweller Joy Everley's help so we took a trip down to Newburgh Street just off Carnaby Street to meet her properly.
How did you first get into making jewellery?
People always ask that! Its been my life for over 30 years so I can really hardly say. Ive just always done it. From a tiny child threading beads up to now making diamonds and precious pieces.
Youve been on Newburgh Street for 14 years - how has the road changed?
Its stayed the same in that its cool and interesting and attracts individuals looking for something different to buy, what has changed is that there are more corporate brands. There used to be more independents but the corporates have jumped on the bandwagon.
How do you differentiate yourself from those bigger corporate brands and make Joy Everley special?
No one else sells our jewellery so far. There arent many jewellers who design and make only their own brand and we dont advertise on the side of buses!
Where do you take your inspiration for your collections from?
I find my ideas come from the customers. Even though I dont like to work in the shop as much as I used to I would hate to not do it all because youre working with the customers. We sell things individually pendants, chains and bracelets our customers will put together their own combinations and they will come up with things you would never have thought of so from that you get an idea of trends.
Oliver Sweeneys latest collaboration with you features little sterling silver cufflinks how did that come about?
Sarah Cooper (Oliver Sweeneys Tattooist-in-Chief!) and I have known each other for a long time. Shes a fan of Joy Everley and she had an idea that shed like to have something in the accessories range to complement her tattooed leather pieces. So we got chatting in the pub and I immediately knew what she was talking about. I came up with some ideas and then it just grew from there. We realised the things you sell in Oliver Sweeney lend themselves to having precious accessories that also relate to what youre already selling.
Were you familiar with our Anatomical Last and brogues?
Yes! I love brogues!
How did you recreate our intricate details on the miniature cufflinks?
Thanks to Emily Jacobs Oliver Sweeneys Accessories buyer. She is very meticulous. It really was such a pleasure to work with another designer because we were just hitting off each other the whole time. I knew the practical limitations and could also think of ideas knowing what we could do and how small and detailed we could go. Emily knew what she wanted and by pointing out the details that are unique to your Oliver Sweeney shoes we were able to reproduce that but in tiny form!
Where was the collection made?
The silver collection is all made in Thailand. Its a factory weve worked with for 20 years. Luckily I go out every year to visit them with my new collection. Weve become friends. Its a big operation. They mostly work for French designers and fashion designers because they also make costume jewellery.
In terms of the Joy Everley brand are you planning any more collaborations?
I would love to. It stretches me and gives me the chance to go in a different direction. My collaboration with Oliver Sweeney has been really fun.
OS Meets: Brighton band Paper Playground
How long have you been playing?
John: About a year now, but we spent a year before that structuring our music and our sound working on what we wanted to sound like.
Is this the first band youve all been in?
John: Weve all been in bands before and some of us have played in bands together as well.
Eddie: Adam and John are brothers and I went to school with Lloyd so we played in bands together there.
Lloyd: Between the four of us weve all played in bands since we were 14 years old together but not the four of us together.
How did you come up with the name Paper Playground?
Adam: Thats what took the year!
John: It was torture! Its a reference to the innocence of being a child. It was all about being young and spending your time making things.
Do you write your songs all together or is it just one of you?
Adam: Its a bit of a mixture really. We do a lot of stuff on the computer at the moment. One of us will come up with an idea and well email it around. We all live together so we go running upstairs and downstairs listening to things weve all played and the songs evolve from there.
John: If we like where its come from we push it further. Its done in a different way to just sitting down and playing together - its more individual.
Where do you get inspiration for the lyrics?
John: I write the lyrics. Every time I come up with something new I always promise myself it wont be personal but you cant really help it. The music always comes first and then I like to take it away and see how it inspires me. So yes its about personal aspects of my life really.
How would you describe your style of music?
Lloyd: Dream pop has been thrown about.
Eddie: I joined the group a bit later and before joining I put these guys on once and I described them as being part of the chill wave Brighton scene.
John: I think you have to put electronica in there too because its an electronic sound and we have songs of various speeds.
Where do you play most?
John: Its mainly Brighton at the moment as were still fine-tuning our sound, but we are starting to play a bit more in London too.
Lloyd: Were only just really finding our feet but now I think we are ready to venture out there.
Whats your opinion on Britains Got Talent and Pop Idol?
Eddie: I think shows like XFactor have ruined a few things but theyve also encouraged bands to rebel against talent shows. Bands think well just do our own thing so theres a lot of DIY music at the moment because the major record labels will only sign up the X factor rejects. So I think the shows have killed a lot of music but kids arent going to be into Paper Playground so the kids can love Olly Murs and people who like real music can love our band!
Whats the next step for the band?
John: Its just to play at the moment. Since weve actually got together in the proper line up weve done about four gigs. Weve been so busy writing songs and fine-tuning the sound that now we can go out and actually enjoy playing to people.
Whats the bands style?
Adam: I just wait til John has bought something and then copy him! Its much easier!
Eddie: Thats real little brother love isnt it! When we play live we all wear the same colour.
Lloyd: Thats only really happened since Eddie joined the band! Weve never actually said lets wear one particular colour!
Eddie: So was that just a coincidence then! So every time Id seen you before youd just happened to be wearing the same. Oh so maybe I have uniformed the band! Thats what Ive brought to the band no bass playing skills, just fashion!
John: We wear what we feel comfortable in.
Adam: We dont go on stage and put a different outfit on. We wear what wed normally wear.
How do you walk your own path?
John: We try not to follow any trends by just being ourselves.
Eddie: We make our own path.
Lloyd: We almost didnt want to worry about what people wanted to hear. We just thought lets do whats fun for us and play and thats sort of come across now. There are a lot more people dancing at our shows now!
What makes your toes curl?
Eddie: I really dont like peanut butter.
Lloyd: I dont like it when youre eating a yoghurt and someone says can I have a bit of your yoghurt.
John: Weve been given the opportunity to talk about our band and youre talking about peanut butter and yoghurt!
Eddie: I think we make eachothers toes curl!
Which are your favourite OS shoes?
Eddie: I really like Wren: its a classic brogue but in boot form. Theyre never going to go out of fashion. They look like a classic Dr Marten and theyre made in Italy so theyre good quality.
John: We all appreciate good quality craftsmanship. Thats a sign of a good shoe. You can tell that its a brand thats made very well. In the same way that we are musicians and we craft songs Oliver Sweeney craft their shoes beautifully.
Sweeney for Winners: Gold Medallist & Cyclist Ed Clancy
Double Gold Medallist and Cyclist Ed Clancy
British Cycling has become associated with the words inspiration and participation; do you think youre going to play a part in getting people to participate in cycling from now on?
Perhaps when I retire. I think were already inspiring kids to get on their bikes and thats a good start. Ill do a few participation programmes involving kids and the talent team at British Cycling, but at the moment Im just enjoying riding my own bike too much. I want to keep doing that for another four years, but as soon as I finish cycling I want to something back into the sport. Its given me so much. Its transformed how I feel about life so Id love to put a bit back into cycling when Ive finished.
You mentioned the next four years so is Rio in 2016 definitely in your sights?
Going into London I wasnt so sure how Id feel afterwards. I figured that if things hadnt gone so well Id still have my medal from Beijing. Now Ive got my second gold it makes sense to go for a couple more.
Cycling and the velodrome became a focal point during the Olympics. Can you describe what the atmosphere was like inside?
In terms of the achievement essentially it was the same as what we did in Beijing but it just felt like so much more doing it in front of 7,000 people. It isnt a huge number but the atmosphere in there was so tight. The roof was so low on the velodrome it was just like walking out of a nightclub your ears ringing! It was a really special atmosphere and its fair to say well never have anything like that again.
And compared to your win in Beijing four years ago better or the same?
I think it was better. Obviously it was my first gold in Beijing, but being able to share this gold with my friends and family and the people of Great Britain was better. Its the place Ive grown up and Im quite patriotic. Its important to us that weve had a home Olympics to do our thing in front of the home crowd.
Dave Brailsford talked about the preparation the cycling team had even special pillows for each athlete do you think that attention to detail made sure the team was absolutely ready for the Olympics?
Absolutely. For British Cycling the Olympics is the only thing that really matters. The performances you saw at London 2012 were the result of how we go about our training and preparation. There was no stone left unturned whether in equipment, the way we were sleeping and what we were eating and drinking. We put all our eggs in the Olympic basket and it came good again.
It was an amazing time to be involved in cycling with the Tour de France setting the scene for the Olympics it was going to be a summer to remember for British Cycling wasnt it?
Bradley definitely kicked off the feel good factor amongst British Cycling and while he doesnt ride Team Pursuit with us anymore I remember him fondly from Beijing. He was quite an inspiration for me and Geraint Thomas at the time as the younger lads of the team. It was great to see him go off and win the Tour. It seemed a bit like an impossible challenge so I think that inspired the whole of British Cycling and the way we think.
So now youve finished are you still training or having a rest?
I ploughed straight into training after Beijing and looking back six or seven months post Beijing I regret not taking my foot off the gas, so I think Ive not got a lot to lose by having a bit of time off now. I think Ive got time to swagger about in gold shoes before I get down to the serious training for Rio!
How do you walk your own path?
I cycle for a start! I think its important to choose your own route and not follow others like sheep. Im quite well known for not towing the line and having my own ideas in training. Just as long as youre happy doing what youre doing then thats all that matters.
What makes your toes curl?
Cabbage, broccoli, sprouts - anything green. Im not big on salads and vegetables.
Whose shoes would you like to be in for the day?
Your shoes obviously! Im pretty happy just being me to be honest. You cant change who you are so just try and be happy being yourself.
OS Meets: Olympian and Presenter Kriss Akabusi
What have you been up to since retiring from athletics?
I was a TV presenter for The Big Breakfast and Record Breakers they were my main programmes, but Im now a professional speaker. I do corporate engagement, keynote, endnotes, workshops and after dinner award evenings. Anywhere they want a bit of energy, entertainment and a sense of humour!
Whats the key message you try to get across?
That for peak performance you need to step into an arena. We all have an arena and whatever it is you need passion, a can-do attitude and a focus on the goal. Sometimes things go wrong so you need to be innovative and creative in order to get the task done, but at all times you have to find your role within a team. Weve all got gifts and talents, but all of us know more than any one of us so once youve found your own particular gift and talent learn how to serve your team and youll achieve great things.
Talking of serving you were in the British Army before athletics how did that help you with your running career?
If I hadnt joined the Army I very much doubt Id have been an international athlete. It was a guy in the Army, Sergeant Ian McKenzie, who actually spotted I had a bit of a talent and more importantly didnt just spot that I had talent but was prepared to give me the time and his expertise to develop my talent. A year after joining the Army I was the Army Junior Champion which is insignificant in so far as global athletics is concerned, but very significant to me. It made me realise that with application, the right attitude, discipline and determination and the right people around me I can achieve great things. Five years later I was an Olympic Silver medallist.
You mentioned nurturing talent; do you think the young people competing in the Olympics today have enough support behind them?
Most of the athletes will have had a loved one somewhere along the line who has introduced them to the sport whether its a parent, a carer, or Sergeant Ian McKenzie, someone who cared for them and got them into that sport. Therell be some people who havent got the right backing, but sport is an event where you end up having a coach that for many people can become a father figure and they give 20-30 hours a week to half a dozen people. Thats a lot of nurturing!
Youve competed in the Olympics, what tips and advice would you give the athletes competing at London 2012?
Thats a really good question. 70% of athletes who enter the Olympic Games for the first time perform below par. Thats often because they get carried away with the Games oh my gosh its Usain Bolt and they go to get his autograph! This time for example being at home in London, UK athletes will be taking their Mum and their Dad and their cats and their dogs around sightseeing and so theyll be walking around doing things they wouldnt normally do in preparation for a Games. Or they go to a training venue and they see all their contemporaries and their competitors so they train that little bit harder and they tweak muscles. So Im saying youre here by design not by default enjoy the moment, but recognise its a competition where you want to get the best out of yourself, stay focused on your task! Most importantly though enjoy the moment.
Theres not too much pressure on the TeamGB athletes given its a home Games?
It depends very much on where you are in your athletics cycle. And it depends who you are. Someone like Jessica Ennis, theres a load of pressure on her. Shes the golden girl and theres a lot of hope for her. What I tend to think is theres a lot of youngsters at the moment who are competing who you and I dont know right now and they are going to happen at the Olympic Games. They are going to have their best day ever they are going to be 25-30% better than theyve been before. Theyre going to get medals, the big G the gold and the pressure is what they need. They need that this is it, once in a lifetime, must do no second chances to really fire them up and deliver. There are other athletes who have got a whole heap of pressure and for them it might be the straw that breaks the camels back. We all deal with pressure and stress differently. Some people it breaks us some people it makes us. Youve got decide who you are going to be.
You mentioned Jess Ennis and perhaps Tom Daley could be another example of someone doing too much publicity in the lead up to the Games. Whats your opinion on this?
Its horses for courses, but I would always err on the side of caution. Someone like Tom Daley he gets this right hes going to be the poster boy ad infinitum, a multimillionaire going forward. He gets it wrong and I think he could experience a side of the press he wont like. Weve gone through the emotional journey of his father passing away and now this is his moment. Whether the media attention and all the dinners have affected him or not will be immaterial. The press will never let the truth get in the way of a good story. So it really is important that athletes realise this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that only comes around in your country 50 to 60 years so youre fortunate to be able to compete in your generation so grab it with both hands. Theres a time to be in the media and theres a time to step back. Now is the time to step back.
Dai Greene is competing in your discipline do you think hell win Gold?
Hes done phenomenally well so far British, Commonweath, European and World Champion. You dont become World Champion because youre a mug, but hes now got a target and everyone now knows hes a serious contender. Dais shown that every time theres a major championship he steps up and performs so I do expect him to step up and perform. I expect him to break my British record. Hes going to have to break my British record to make a medal. I think its going to be a real tough one to get the Big G! I think hes going to have a couple of Americans, a Brazilian, Cuban, South African who can all run 47.7/47.6 which means one of them is going to pop up to 47.3. I dont think Dai has got the flat speed to run 47.3 but I know hes got the heart to run 47.6 so if his competitors bottle it and hes run a 47.6 then itll be Sir Dai Greene, Olympic Gold Medallist, British Record Holder. Check you out!
Its amazing that you still hold the British Record after so long isn't it?
I became British record holder in 1990 and because its my personal best when I broke it I didnt realise how good it was. I expected someone to come along in the next generation and take it to 47.5 but its lasted 20 years. For me to think that me, and I know who I am and I know where I come from, to think that I can be the British record holder is just phenomenal.
Are you a little bit jealous of people competing in London?
A little bit jealous is an understatement! Massively jealous! The only negative thing about the Olympic Games is that Im 20 years too old! It would be an honour and a privilege to put on the uniform, step into the arena, feel the partisan crowd and that this is your moment. And its the moment where destinies are going to be developed.
Will you be a bit sad if someone breaks your record?
Record breakers! No to be fair the records are important to you, but you always know youre only borrowing it, youre only building an edifice for other people to do the things you couldnt have done yourself. No one can take away my records. Im a European Champion, a World Champion and Olympic Silver medallist and no one can take away those things. A record is different you stand in the annals of history as someone who chaperoned it for a while until someone else came along. Dai Greene for example, I know he knows Kriss Akabusi and he knows 47.82. I know hes got it in his diary and I know his coach talks to him about 47.82. I know therefore that I am part and parcel of him striving to be his best. Im the only one hes got to beat in the UK. Hes beaten every other British athlete and one day hell pass the record on as well.
Which are your favourite Oliver Sweeney Shoes?
You got to check these out! (Pointing to his Oliver Sweeney Royale golf shoes) Little bit of the special O and S stitching on them. Its a beautiful golf shoe, a real brogue with fine leather. I really like brogues; when I was a kid at school I used to envy the boys who had enough money to wear brogues. To find this fine brogue in a golf shoe with the black and the white contrast. It makes me feel like Im dancing on the golf course!
How do you walk your own path?
I live what Id call an episodic life. That is Im a man of the moment, I enjoy the present, I dont worry too much about the past. I have a saying that the pasts for reference not for residence. Its tough the past does affect our lives and does help shape us, but you cant and shouldnt live in the past. You shouldnt live too far in the future either because if you live too far in the future you begin to have fear and doubts. So I ask myself on a regular basis to live in the moment. If I live in the moment happiness is in the palm of my hand. I live for today. Ive got great people in my life today, got great experiences in my life today and dont worry about tomorrow.
OS Meets: Olympic 400m Hurdler Jack Green
How does it feel to be part of TeamGB?
Obviously its a great thing to be selected and Ive been thinking about it for years and years. I was 14 or 15 at the time we won the Olympic bid and it was kind of a dream that you didnt really think would happen and now Im in the team.
Your biggest rival is Dai Greene and yet hes your training partner how do you manage that relationship?
Were good friends but obviously its competitive on the track; I help him and he helps me. Obviously training together brings us both on, taking us to the new level and that will be the Olympics.
So would you say that every training session is a competition in a sense?
Yes totally. Neither of us wants the other to win on one run whether its 20 metres or 200 metres. It doesnt really matter!
The fans in the Stadium will be screaming your surname which ironically is also Dais surname although its spelt slightly differently!
Im the real Green I dont put an e on end!
So will you be using Dais cheers as well?
Ill pretend! Yes lets pretend theyre mine!
Youve had quite a fast track training programme over the last year do you feel slightly rushed because of it?
No Im feeling fine. I was patient when I was young. I was always too scared to train because I didnt want to burn out and be that young kid who didnt really do anything when he was older. So I only really started training when I went to my coach Malcolm Arnold in Bath. Hes the best in the world and he knows what hes doing. So I just say yes ok Ill do this, listen and get on with things.
Are you too young to be competing in this particular Games?
If youre good enough youre old enough! Thats what we always say at training.
How do you combine being a normal 20 year old and being an elite athlete for Team GB?
I dont! I wish I could! I train every morning at 9am so going out doesnt really come into it. We get a month off every year where you should probably keep away from athletes as we get to do what we like. We get to put the 11 months that weve missed into 1 month so I am looking forward to that.
What plans have you got after the Olympics?
Im going to go to a few festivals and enjoy myself.
Do you get a designated amount of time off until they want you back on the track training?
Yes we start back on October 1st which is a shame as my birthday is 6th October so I go straight back into a hard week.
Will you keep your fitness ticking over?
No we have a complete break. You need it. Obviously with 11 months of hard training and especially with the Olympics this year and all the excitement you need that break.
Youve had a couple of races where youve knocked over hurdles is that something youre going to put an end to before London 2012?
Well in my last race I didnt knock over a single one so hopefully I can keep that up! Its just a stride pattern thing. In the 400 metre hurdles you have a stride pattern and I havent done the one I shouldve been doing all season. Because youre not doing what youre meant to you get a bit too close to the hurdle or a bit too far away which results in hitting hurdles - which isnt fun!
Whats the penalty?
Theres no penalty but theres no advantage either. One it hurts and two it slows you down.
When did you decide that it was hurdles rather than running that you wanted to do?
When I was 15 I was doing the 400 metres and I was pretty tall, Im 6ft4 now and I thought I can get over these hurdles. Im not the best of hurdlers but in the 400m hurdles you dont have to be you just have to be efficient and in my first race I ran a UK record for my age. So I thought ooh I think I should probably stick with this event!
What are you most looking forward to about competing here in London?
The home crowd. Its probably a familiar answer but thats such a huge thing. Theres a reason why in football and rugby they love playing at home and win more games and its the same in athletics. If youve got the crowd behind you youre going to run better.
Any worries or nerves about competing in front of the home crowd?
No. Theyre going to jump on your back if you dont do very well. I dont really want to think about that side of things though.
What do you think are the chances of a GB one two on the podium?
If I get it right I can run really well, but the 400m hurdles is extremely competitive. No ones really taken it on thats the plus. Theres a big group of guys that could all medal and hopefully Im put into that group. Ive got a few things that I need to sort out which Ive been doing.
Dais just been named Captain of Team GB are you going to be taking advice off him first hand?
I always do. Last year when I first joined the sport he was brilliant with me and I learned as much from him as I did my coach. Things are a little different this year because Im hopefully in a position where I can challenge him. Im still learning from him and hes always there to ask any questions that I have.
Whose shoes would you like to be in for the day?
David Beckham just because of the whole side of the fashion icon and hes more than just a sportsman and thats what Im aiming for myself.
What makes your toes curl?
People wearing tracksuit bottoms outside sport. I absolutely hate it. I dont think it should be allowed, ever.
Whats your favourite Oliver Sweeney shoe?
The Mellin Tan. This now my ninth pair of brogues! I like the end of the shoe theyre rounded off but youve still got the flared edge. A lot of brogues are just rounded off and they look too much like ballet shoes but these are a bit more masculine!
Sweeney for Winners: Team GB Rowers Sophie Hosking & Kat Copeland
Sophie Hosking & Kat Copeland
You havent rowed together in a boat for very long only since March - were you quite nervous going into such a huge competition?
Sophie I dont think so we had a lot of confidence from what wed done in training and although we were quite new in the boat wed trained together every day so we were always progressing and always learning. I think we were also really happy with our training camps leading up to the Olympics so we knew we were going fast.
Kat I had a lot of confidence in us both individually and we didnt have any pressure. Ive raced Sophie loads so she was who I wanted to be a boat with and I had confidence in the training that Id done.
Talking of pressure the Greeks did put you under quite a lot of pressure in the final was there a moment when you doubted yourselves?
Kat This was the first year Id ever done the event so I was a little bit intimidated by them at first but then when we raced them in the first World Cup I just realised theyre just normal people so no I didnt doubt ourselves.
Sophie I think as World Champions they had all the pressure on them and we were going in knowing they had everything to lose and we had everything to gain. We knew how our race plans fitted in with theirs. In the final we were the most focused on what we were doing of all the races. We just focused on what stage of our race we were in not just oh theyre leading us weve got to react; it was just all about what was in our plan.
Obviously as you came down towards the finishing line you had the home crowd cheering you on can you describe what it was like having as they say the extra person in the boat?
Sophie Its something you dont experience very often in rowing. It was the closest to the atmosphere in the athletics stadium that we are ever going to get. There were 30,000 people surrounding each bank producing this wall of sound - it was an amazing experience. The cheering was something we used more and more to our advantage through the regatta and by the final it wasnt something that was normal but we knew that it was going to happen and we knew how to react to it in a positive way.
Kat - It gave you butterflies. When we got to the really loud bit it gave you butterflies in your tummy. You just had so much adrenaline you didnt even have a chance to think you were tired. It was so loud that it gave you so much energy. Having my family, some of my coaches from home and my boyfriend there really made it for me.
Sophie, that moment when you crossed the line and you turned around and hugged Kat could you actually believe youd won?
I could believe wed won but I think it was just the realisation of all our hard work that weve put in and even though weve just come together in the boat weve been putting in the hard work individually for years and years and thats a moment that you dream of. You dont know quite how youre going to react. Its very impromptu because its not anything weve had before or planned. It was such a special moment and then obviously the cameras captured the rest of it! Not necessarily flattering!
Kat, I think your smiley face is pictured everywhere!
It was like our dreams had come true. It sounds silly but that was our dream and it happened so it was just a bit surreal.
So do you think its something youd like to recreate in four years time?
Sophie I think we both have a lot of thinking to do before we make any decisions. Four years is a long time and rowing is a sport that we both have to invest a huge amount in and its not something you can take lightly. I think when the excitement has all calmed down thats the right time to start making decisions.
Kat I think Im the same and if you talk to anyone on the team I think were all the same. I think we just need a bit of time to think.
Inspiring a generation is the strapline for London 2012 is that something you feel youve contributed to?
Sophie Its funny when I saw all the hoardings I didnt know how that would apply to me personally but having seen the crowds and seen the excitement of the country and then having achieved the ultimate of winning I think its something you have to take on. Its going to be really important to get back out there in schools and clubs because theyve got to see that were just normal people and its just something weve worked towards and that anyone can achieve it if they really want to put the hard work in.
How do you walk your own path?
Kat I guess for me its being proud and always keeping links with where I come from in the North. I love Teeside and its whats made me so I think I have a lot to be thankful for. I also think keeping happy if you are happy doing something youll do well.
Sophie For me its about living in the moment. I think when I was younger I was always thinking about whats next whats next. Now Im just trying to enjoy every moment that Im in some are much more enjoyable than others - but I find that makes you much more at ease with what youre doing and if you can make the most out of every situation you are in you can turn around and think Ive done all I could.
What makes your toes curl?
Kat - I dont like getting injections. I dont like seeing things pierce your skin sounds a bit morbid I know!
Sophie Id probably say mackerel. The pepper on it, the oily skin and the vacuum-packedness of it all! I will eat most things but mackerel no way!
Whose shoes would you like to be in for a day?
Kat Kate Middleton just because I love her. I think she is the most gorgeous person in the world and she just gets to joke about with Harry and Will all day. She got to see all the best things in the Olympics too. I think shes great!
Sophie I think it would have to be someone well known in history. Maybe Winston Churchill. When he was really under pressure in the War and he came through. Yes Id like to be Winston Churchill!
OS Meets: Olympic Backstroke Swimmer Liam Tancock
Oliver Sweeneys slogan is Walk Your Own Path - how do you walk yours?
Thats a good saying and one I would follow in my life too. I think Im a bit of a leader. In terms of swimming I want to be pushing the boundaries and pushing my limits. Im current world record holder in the 50m backstroke and thats almost a target for everyone else. Once someone breaks the record theyve just stepped it up and thats what I want to do. Thats the target for me but its the target for everyone else to follow as well.
As a swimmer do you have to look after your feet?
Before I get into the water I actually stretch my toes. You need very flexible feet for swimming the pointier your toes are the better it sounds strange but you get better propulsion through the water. So before each training session I actually stretch out my toes in a weird position on the floor using my hands as well so curly toes are good for swimming!
Whose shoes would you like to be in for a day?
I dont think Id want to be in anyone elses shoes really it sounds bad but I quite like my life! Obviously I look up to people and especially people who do great things in their sport, push the boundaries and always give back so probably someone like David Beckham. Obviously hes a world class footballer, but hes also brought football even more into the light in Britain which is fantastic. Or Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton; theyve made Formula 1 exciting and people are interested in it again. So Id like to be someone like that within the world of swimming. If I can get anyone to even think about going to the local swimming pool to have a go that would be amazing.
Home turf is usually considered an advantage - are you finding the build up to London 2012 in your favour or is it distracting?
Ive only ever had home crowd advantage once and that was in Manchester in 2008 and I actually became World Short Course Champion there. That was in front of about 5,000 people. People were chanting our names as we were getting out of the pool; it was mega exciting. In London were going to have 17,500 people in the crowd and I cant help think that its going to be a positive. Were talking about 100ths of a second between winning and not winning, getting a medal and not getting a medal, making a final and not making a final and home advantage could make the difference. We train all the time for these 100ths of a second so if I can gain advantage from the home crowd then Im going to try and lap it up!
Some athletes have been criticised for doing too much in the lead up to the Games how are you managing your time?
I understand that swimming is the most important thing without swimming I wouldnt have anything else that sounds bad Ive actually got a lot of things! What I mean is if I didnt train I wouldnt be successful so I dont really want to do too much outside of the pool because I wont be as successful in the pool. Obviously its nice to do other things and if I can help promote the sport I will, but ultimately I know my goal is in the water.
What do you think about during the race? Anything at all or just go fast!?
Its weird you think about it all more during training so when you get to your race its almost like you dont need to think about it. You get in the water and do it. Its almost natural and I believe when you swim naturally you swim faster. There are obviously key things I think about I want to get a great start and a good turn. I want to work on key areas on my race so I do think about those sorts of things through the race but were talking about a race that last 52 or 53 seconds thats not that long so there are a couple of key points that I look at but ultimately I just want it to be as natural as possible.
What do you think of your Oliver Sweeney shoes?
Smart. Theyre really comfy and they look cool too which is key. Everyone says that you can tell a man by their shoes too. Obviously its the same in sport as it is in life. If you look good you feel good.
OS Meets: Olympian Sir Matthew Pinsent CBE
Youve been a fan of Oliver Sweeney for quite a while why do you like the brand so much?
I like Oliver Sweeney because Ive got a bit of a challenge in the foot department in that I have large plates of meat which need to be shed in nice pieces of leather and Oliver Sweeney a. caters for my size and b. has a range that encompasses classic through to not just casual but also trendy and relaxed at the same time which is a very difficult act to pull off especially when you have large feet like me!
Since retiring from rowing what have you been doing to fill your time?
I retired from the sport in 2004 after the Olympics. I then moved into media and journalism both with the BBC and The Times and Ive been there ever since. I cover lots of different sports with a slant towards Olympic sports. Ive stayed in touch with rowing, but havent been actively rowing for quite a while. I go to Henley each year and enjoy watching the results pour in from the current Great Britain team.
Would you be inclined to make a comeback like Greg Searle whos going to be competing in the Mens Eight after eight years in retirement?
No comebacks on the agenda for me! A very simple answer to that question! No.
Youve won four Gold medals - which was your favourite?
Its hard to choose. I think my favourite Olympics was probably Sydney because it was the combination of winning, the place and the people. The fans definitely revolutionised that Games for us as athletes. So yes it was probably Sydney.
London is obviously looming large on the horizon do you wish you were still rowing so you could row in your home country?
No Im not worried Im very happy with where I am. My rowing is done and even if I wanted to make a comeback I couldnt and I dont so Im happy!
Do you think there will be extra pressure for the athletes as its a home Games?
Hopefully. I think pressures good in the sports sense. If youre good and youre experienced and youve done quite a bit then you perform well in that sort of situation so I hope for the vast majority of the British athletes the pressure will be a good thing. I hope theyll see it as their moment and the most important day, morning, hour or minute of their life and theyll have the freedom and enjoyment that means theyll do really well.
Do you think what happened at the World Cup is a tell tale sign for the Olympics or is there room for a shake up?
Theres always room for outsiders. I think its something like 60 or 70% of people who win during the season go on to win at the end of the year but as soon as you say that you think well hang on then 30-40% are going to do it on the day and they dont worry what goes beforehand. Its only the Olympics that matters. If you cross the line in the Olympics first then youre remembered. Thats the only thing that matters.
The rowing teams been having a bit of a shake up with Pete Reed and Andy Triggs-Hodge being moved out of the Pair into the Four - do you think thats going to affect the mindset of those that have missed out on a place in the Four?
No I think weve now morphed what was essentially a top boat in the Pair that wasnt winning into a Four that should now win and hopefully an Eight that could win. I think thats about the balance of it and I still think theres a chance for the Pair who are now in inverted commas bottom rank boat to do reasonably well. Weve now got two great chances in the Four and the Eight to win a Gold medal.
Do you think it was always Jurgen Groblers plan to keep Andy Hodge and Pete Reed in the Pair for as long as possible?
I think it very much depends on the results you get. If you carry on trying and trying in the Pair and they carry on winning Silver after Silver then the writing is on the wall. I dont think Jurgen or anyone within that setup would be happy with Silver - thats not why they are there.
You were involved with the London 2012 bid its now here explain how youre feeling?
Ive been at fever pitch for a long time. I think this a genuine chance for London to change quite dramatically. I dont think there will be a force for change in London in our lifetime thats as big as the Olympics. Weve got a chance to update ourselves a little bit. Weve been famous for double decker buses, Grenadier Guardsmen, taxis and bobbies with their helmets. Thats all a bit dated now so London 2012 will be a chance for us to project ourselves in a way thats new and hopefully quite different and modern. Theres a nod to the past its no secret or surprise that were using a lot of our historic story as a backdrop - thats our heritage, but weve also got to be forward facing. I think its about time London had a new facet and forward looking event.
If you were a betting man who would you put your money on to win medals?
I think well do slightly better than we did in Beijing. I think well do better at rowing. We need to win two Golds in Track and Field, Swimming Im chalking up for two to three, Cycling maybe four, Sailing three maybe four and then youre off into the land of Modern Pentathlon, Judo, Taekwondo, Hockey, Equestrian, and Boxing. If we start getting those guys coming then suddenly a target of 20 Golds is within range. Its very exciting!
How do you walk your own path?
You walk your own path usually by backing yourself and taking a riskier route. The vast majority of people go through life playing it safe. I think the most successful people are those who once in a while or very consistently take a riskier route because the rewards for taking the riskier route are obvious if it works, but even if it doesnt work whatever it is career, sport or life, you still learn a huge amount about yourself and your chance of succeeding next time. I would always say to walk your own path back yourself even if its riskier or less likely that youre going to be successful. Its more rewarding.
What makes your toes curl?
Usually what makes my toes curl is either good comedy so acutely observed that is kind of nails down a chalkboard. The Office is a good example I like it, I realise the craft in its creation, but I literally cant watch it. Its too toe curling. And Ive never worked in an office! And the other extreme is comedy thats so bad its toe curlingly bad someone dying on stage thats awful!
Whose shoes would you like to be in for the day?
Whose shoes would I like to be in for the day? Hmm thats a question! Ill go Bubba Watson who won the US Masters in Golf. He seems like he has a nice attitude. He seemed very loose, very free and can drive the ball like no man on earth!
Which are your favourite Oliver Sweeney shoes?
Farfalle. Theyre my favourite Oliver Sweeney shoes and the first Oliver Sweeney shoes I ever owned. I walked up the aisle to marry my wife in them, Ive still got them and they still go well!
Hopefully so is your marriage!
Yes my third wife didnt like them so well!
Sir Matthew Pinsent wears our Saunders Brogue, shop the look here
Click here for other interviews in our OS Meets series
OS Meets: Dancing on Ice Goes Gold Stars
Dancing on Ice Goes Gold stars
Steve Williams & Jamie Baulch
Steve, how did you find ice skating compared to being out on the water?
Steve: I think both Jamie and I found it really difficult. It's completely out of our comfort zone, but I think we were both up for that because it was such a challenge. My background is rowing; I sit on my backside, I sit this far off the water so being on my feet meant I was completely out of my comfort zone. I'm not good on my feet anyway - all my mates will tell you I'm the last one on the dancefloor and when I am it's absolutely embarrassing. I enjoyed it so much though but I fell over so much as well! I lost count of the times I fell over, but it was all worth it in the end!
Have you been out on the rink since filming the show?
Steve: After filming I took my niece and nephew who are five and eight skating, but even a couple of days after the show I felt I'd completely lost everything! The kids are only little and I was holding on to them for support! Today is the first time I have been on the ice in 10 weeks!
Jamie: I know I thought I would be struggling today. Even though I'm not amazing I thought I was going to go completely back to Bambi on ice! I was quite pleased with that!
Steve: You're not off the rink yet mate!
Jamie: No you're right!
Why did you get involved in Dancing On Ice Goes Gold?
Jamie: I've always wanted to ice skate ever since I saw Robin Cousins as a kid. I was absolutely rubbish at first - like Bambi on ice - but I can't wait for this Christmas so I can go down to Cardiff to my local ice rink and show off.
What was your favourite move during the show?
Jamie: My favourite move was what I like to call the Usain Bolt on ice travelling forward. I enjoyed practising that! I also did the caterpillar - do you remember that?! I did that as well!
Was it different from being a sprinter Jamie?
Jamie: Totally! The training was really hard. I was getting up at 4.30 in the morning to be on the ice at 5am because that was the only time I could do it. Two months of training, intense, but brilliant.
|Any chance of becoming a professional ice skater?
Jamie: You never know! I could battle it out with Robin Cousins in the future! I feel like I could take him! Ur...but no! It's been one of the best experiences I've had in a long time. I'm just so pleased I can do it now and hopefully go with my children at some point!
What about Strictly Come Dancing - would you do that if the opportunity came along?
Jamie: If I got asked to do it I would be straight on there! I want to get that top on right down to the hairy chest! Go for the 70s look! I'd definitely do it - I'd love to do it!
If you aren't so keen on the dancefloor Steve can we assume Strictly Come Dancing would be a no?
Steve: Well you know when they called me up to do Dancing on Ice Goes Gold I said thank you, but no thank you. They called three or four times! I only went down to see whether I could actually stay on my feet and not fall over. Then somehow a couple of months later I woke up and realised that I had actually done it so never say never!
Jamie Baulch in the hotseat:
Why did you set up the Jamie Baulch Academy?
I set it up to inspire kids. Everyone's talking about legacy and I don't know how big that's going to be for the Olympics but I know what I am doing is creating that spark with school children across the country. I've been in schools today and everyone loves it, the kids love it, the teachers love it. I bring Olympic athletes into schools and inspire the school children. It's fantastic and I love it.
Dai Greene's one of the athletes you manage at your company Definitive Talent Management - you must be proud of him especially now he's been named Team Captain for Team GB?
Dai's doing really well. In fact I think I have about five or six athletes that should get medals at the Olympics and Paralympics this year so yes I'm really looking forward to watching them.
You experienced the effects drug taking can have on sport at the 1997 World Championships when your medal was upgraded as a result of the USA admitting taking banned substances -should we be worried about drugs ruining London 2012?
There's always going to be drug cheats out there which I think is really sad for the sport and I just hope they all get caught. My personal opinion is that I don't think they should be allowed back into the sport, but unfortunately it's not my decision.
|Steve Williams in the hotseat:
How do you walk your own path?
For me it's about always having a goal to aim for. I'm with that great 1980s philosopher who said "you've got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true".
What makes your toes curl?
I have to confess I've got a fairly serious case of OCD from my rowing days so any kind of hygiene issues. It even makes my toes curl when I see ladies get on the tube and put their handbag on the floor!
Whose shoes would you like to be in for a day?
Either of my two nephews Ollie 9 or Josh 12 - their days are full of lots of fun, adventure and getting up to childhood mischief. They're constantly running around, climbing trees and mucking about. Who wouldn't want to be a kid again?!
You've just started with Ipswich Town football club as a fitness consultant - is that because you're a fan of the team?
The connection was through the Olympics actually and then there was obviously an interview process and the rest is history. It's a very proud club with a proud history. They've had a lot of success in the past and they're ambitious again.
Why did you want to take this new role on?
It's the next chapter in my life and it's a whole new world. It's going to be a steep learning curve but I'm up for learning.
What can you bring to the role?
Hopefully I will be a fresh pair of eyes and will be able to bring all the experiences I've had whether that's in rowing or later in mountains or the North Pole to the job and we can figure out how we to apply it to the world of football.
So you're the man for the job?
High performance in sport and high performance in all worlds just comes down to the tiniest of margins. So even if it's just 1% difference in performance that I can bring then maybe that will be enough.
If you missed Steve and Jamie's peformance on Dancing On Ice Goes Gold watch them again here on ITV Player http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=321555
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