September’s TeamYSN® athlete of the month is TeamGB U15 National Champion Kayaker Georgia Carmichael.
Georgia started kayaking 5 years ago when she was 10 years old at a small local facility and now trains at Longridge Canoe Club.
2017 has seen Georgia competing internationally as she became the youngest to ever get to both sprint and marathon divisions. She was selected for the highest U18 junior sprint team (NTS - National talent squad) being the only 1 of the 8 girls who were all over the age of 17.
Georgia’s greatest success this year was the World Cup, where she was selected to compete for Great Britain in Belgium for the U18 K1 Marathon where she was had to race a 4K and 21k course in over 30degree heat! Despite being the youngest competitor in the squad, Georgia went in with an open mind and came away with 2 Golds!
Georgia now has her sights on the Olympics and TeamYSN® caught up with her to dig deeper into her routine, strategies and goals for the near future helping us #InspireAGeneration.
- How did you get into your first sport, and how old were you?
G: I had just moved to a new area and there was a open day at the local activity centre, I must've been around 10. At the open day I tried many sports from climbing to ice hockey but when I spotted the kayak ergo I was very curious as I had never seen one. I had a go on it and really liked the feel and idea of it and as I live on the river I thought it would be a perfect sport to do! I never knew how serious I would end up taking it.
One of the coaches invited me down to the local club to have a go on the water and that's what I did and I have loved it ever since then!
- Did you have any key idols or role models that you looked up to and wanted to replicate, and if so, why?
G: I have many role models because I believe that helps me to see what I wants to achieve and who I want to be and when I'm older I would love to be a role model for a younger athlete!
I look up to a kayaker called Lisa carrington, she is a New Zealand paddler and is incredible, he race plans and technique I admire but also she promoted her sport and has fun with it! She is so supportive of everyone else.
Another person who I consider as a role model is my coach Tom Daniels, he became my coach in 2016 and still is my coach. He gives up his evenings every night and weekend mornings but he is not paid for this, it is voluntary and he still has a full time job too! He also travels with us to both national and international races with us to show his support. I hope to do the same one day for a younger generation of kayakers because I could not of done it without him.
- How do you cater for your sports nutrition? What sort of meal plans/nutritional strategies did you utilise?
G: I have a big interest in nutrition, and I have done lots of research as I believe that it is a very important part of your sport. During national training days we have talks on nutrition and as we get older they help make our own plans but at the moment I haven't own personalised plan which I try to stick to most days however I am not too strict on it and I am still experimenting with different foods and quantities, but before I take any form of energy/cereal bars and training food I check the ingredients to make sure I can eat them safely without consuming any form of supplements.
- Let downs and injury are a common feature of being a professional athlete, can you tell us how you motivate yourself and what keeps you going through major incidents or tough circumstances?
G: Currently, I am still going through the end of an injury which I have had for a few months, I fell and cracked my head open as well as landing on my shoulder back in June. It was devastating as I did have to miss some events that I had trained for all year but my coaches always reminded me that I have 3 more years as a junior and I have completed all my targets for this year.
I'm not going to lie and say I was always positive because I wasn't and it was a very hard time for me, it is okay to have some bad days but you need to think positive as I know when people say it to you, you don't always believe them and don't see how it is possible to but it is and it helps so much! When I was being more positive I saw dramatic changes and that mentally I was a lot stronger.
My shoulder has now recovered in half the time they expected it to. I think that talking to people really helps during hard times, don't bottle it up and find someone maybe even a role model in your sport to help you! Some injuries and letdowns bring out the best in you and you come back a stronger athlete.
In sport you will have letdowns but that is all part of it and to be a successful athlete you have to had some failures as that's where you learn the most!
- As a very successful youth athlete, how often do you train, and how has this changed depending on your sport?
G: I now train 7 days a week, before and after school and weekends. As well as many national training days which I attend. Sometimes the training amounts vary with the intensity of the sessions and the events coming up, for example before an international race we have a taper week which means that the week before we go as hard as we can and have long and tiring sessions but the following week we have easier session focusing on tactics and skills so that we are rested but not too rested for our races.
For kayaking you have to train a lot because you can always improve which is the same on many sports but also we have a very precise technique which takes a lot of time and effort to master. We also need endurance to get through our marathons and fighting the pain!
- How do you stay healthy? Any Nutrition Tips?
G: To stay healthy I think you need to have a plan in place because it is a lot easier to have a treat or unhealthy thing when you are not following a plan but also to try and have your meals at similar times each days. And I do have occasional treats when I have achieved something or a special occasion and I believe it is still very important to do that. I try not to focus on the amount of calories but the right portions. When I get older I will focus more on my diet but at the moment I am still experimenting!
- What does it feel like to win competitions? Describe the emotion and senses involved during and afterwards.
G: Winning a competition is one of the best feeling in the world, you feel that all your training has paid of and even if it is not a big competition it builds my confidence each time.
Whenever I am not doing my best in training or getting tired I just think of the feeling I get when I win and it's gets me into a positive mindset.
When I won world Cup which was a huge surprise to me because I had gone in aiming for top 20 and just for the experience as I was only 15 in an U18 event where they were all so much stronger and more experienced than me, I cried after the race when because it was just such a big moment in my life and something I will never forget!
- What are your future aspirations?
G: I have many goals not all big such as improve my technique and get a faster time in my time trial but my huge aspiration is to win a gold at the Olympics!
As well as my personal goals I also have some team goals such as to promote kayaking and get more young kids into kayaking as it is such a unique sport and we are all such an amazing community.
- What is your favourite quote or inspirational quote? Or perhaps you like your own made up quote? What is it?
G: “Strength doesn't come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't.”
- What does your ‘internal chatter’ look/sound like in the run up to your event time. What strategies do you use to calm nerves and remain focused.
G: I used to get very nervous before competitions which wasted my energy so with the help of my coach I came up with a plan.
I would make a plan the night before of everything I was going to do on the race day before the race, with exact timings so I didn't have to worry about that on the day. For example to eat my pasta salad at 11:05.
I also use mental rehearsal where I would imagine the race and all the details and picture it going exactly how I wanted and remembering that feeling right up until I start the race.
The main things I focused on:
-The exact details of the movement in question;
-The exact details of a successful outcome;
-The ‘feel’ of the movement;
-Visualising the exact equipment used;
-Visualising the environment;
-Recapturing the emotions of being involved;
-Mental rehearsal should be practised frequently because it is a skill itself;
-Mental rehearsal should be used alongside physical practise;
-The use of appropriate relaxation techniques prior to the use of mental rehearsal could help the quality of mental rehearsal.
- What advise would you offer to Parents of youth athletes regarding their training, the pressure to perform (academic and sporting) and catering for nutrition? How can parents best support their training objectives?
G: I believe it is the athlete's choice in what they do and the parents should not try and push the athlete of pressurise them into it because in the end t will end up with the athlete not liking the sport most likely.
Parents are always wanting the best and so supportive but when my parents cheer for me sometimes I get out off so my parents and I sat down as discussed how we could work together and what involvement they had.
When I used to get very nervous before races I used to get angry at my parents for not leaving me alone which then meant I wasn't focused on my race so if it important to talk to them about the situation and what they want to do before hand.
With the nutrition and catering my advice is that even though you may not have much time and are in a rush don't pick an unhealthy option but don't always be too strict on the athlete on what they can and can't eat as we all want sugar sometimes!
- Any tips for balancing training, academic studies, competitions/games and a social life?
G: Especially going into my GCSEs year I found this very hard as I am not the cleverest and have to work hard to get the grades I need. My best advice is to talk to your school and let them know your situation as this makes it a lot more manageable but also try not to fall behind as this can cause more stress.
I made a big plan, with all my competitions and exams but also I planned my day out so when I would do homework in between session and training. My coaches also helped a lot with palming this as they understand that school does have to come first!
With my social life my friends are very supportive and I do make sure so am still involved with them and I do take the occasional night off to spend time with them because I am still young and I don't want to regret not having enough of a social life when I am older as you are only a teenager once!
- What are your objective thoughts on Youth Sport Nutrition designing PROTEEN®, the first safe supplement for high level youth athletes to support their recovery post training/match?
G: Many of my older teammates always use protein shakes but being younger I was never allowed because it could affect me more and they advise us not to take it but with PROTEEN® I do not have to worry about that and it is safe. It is an amazing product and the flavours are amazing too unlike many protein shakes. Also I do not have to be worried about taking something I am not supposed to as it is perfectly safe! I love it!
- What are your thoughts on using sports supplements, do they have a place in elite sport and how do you avoid compromising anti-doping regulations? What safe practices can parents or youth athletes take to ensure their safety and compliance?
G: I believe that as long as they are safe and doping free then supplements are a great thing to use because they can do amazing things but safely and not illegally. To avoid compromising anti-doping regulations I always check they have the informed sport logo on the product because this indicated they are safe to use!
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