Creating champions

Creating champions

Creating champions

We strive to be ‘the best we can be’ every day at Lobina. So, it was inspiring (and fun) to attend a new event, which explored what businesses can learn from elite athletes.

The new, monthly Connect evenings are being organised by Derbyshire Institute of Sport (DIS) and we were delighted to be invited as one of their major sponsors.

Simon Lobina was super-excited because one of his passions is badminton, and the guest speaker on the launch night was Andy Wood, probably the best badminton coach in the world and co-founder of the unique DIS organisation.


Andy has managed national teams through FIVE Olympic games, starting with Sydney in 2000 where Team GB won its’ first-ever badminton medal – a bronze. Four years later they went one better and won a silver medal. He certainly knows a thing or two about creating champions.

Secrets of achieving high performance

Andy highlighted three elements that contribute to high-performance:

-Creating the right environment and culture. Andy said he worked at creating a fun, dynamic, creative environment and a culture that got the maximum out of everyone by making them feel engaged and involved in everything that was happening.

– Building relationships. Andy said: “Every real achiever will tell you that there was someone special around them – a coach, a mentor or a role model – and that the strong relationship with them was pivotal to the success that followed.”
He added: “We used profiling and insights to understand group dynamics better and manage conflict. At the time, this was new territory for coaches as a way to make players better.”
Andy spoke about how people need different approaches and communication styles to understand goals and their role in achieving them.

-Continually working on performance gains. Andy said that at every training session there is a need to try to get better by training wisely and pushing the boundaries. There is a continual cycle of feedback, debrief and amendment. Questions are asked constantly: ‘Are we on track?’ ‘If not, why not?’ ‘Could we do it better?’ Anything that’s not quite right needs to be corrected as soon as possible.

“Failure is the only way to learn and we should never be afraid of it,” said Andy. “I learned by trial and error as an athlete and as a coach. Don’t have the fear, but instead say, ‘Let’s go again and let’s do more’. I’m always glad when we make mistakes and have the chance to put them right. If you don’t make little mistakes along the way, you can be sure that there’s going to be a big mistake when you least want it.

Focusing on long-term goals

After Andy’s inspiring presentation, we heard from medal-winning swimmer Mia Slevin and her coach Jamie Main.


Mia is only 16 and joined the DIS programme when she was 14. She is currently Great Britain’s number one ranked swimmer in both the 400m and 200m freestyle. She was selected to represent Great Britain in the European Championships in July 2019 and came away with a silver medal. Her sights are now set on winning medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the Olympics in 2024 and 2028. We heard about her demanding training schedule. Most weeks she puts in between 60 and 80 hours on training and working towards her dream. She told us how much she loves what she does and how she keeps focused on her long-term goals.

It was great to hear how sponsors like us are help athletes like Mia to be the best they can be.

Sleep – the greatest aid to high performance
The next event will be held on October 16 from 6pm to 7.30pm at the University of Derby on Kedleston Road. We are looking forward to meeting up with sports psychologist Dr Phil Clarke, who wrote an exclusive article for us back in July about why failure doesn’t exist. He will be talking about sleep – the greatest aid to high performance.

If you would like to know more, or book a place, contact Chloe Maudsley at DIS on 07974 231564 or email her at chloemaudsley@derbyshireis.co.uk.

Kudo to telecoms company Invictus Communications, who are sponsoring the Connect evenings.


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