Turning Talent into Gold

The recent European Athletics Championships, held in Berlin recently, delivered some amazing personal and team performances. While there’s a lot to be said for the correct focus and mindset to conquer the nerves of the big stage, the successes we witnessed were all based on thorough and lengthy planning and application. Turning talent into gold is often a long road, and in many ways, it mirrors our journeys to academic success.

Dina Asher-Smith achieved a stunning 3 gold medals at the Championships at the age of just 22. It may be easy to think this is someone for whom success just happened, or that winning gold medals for sprinting is all about the last 10 metres or so. However, that’s far from the case. In fact, Asher-Smith has been involved in competitive sport for many years already, having begun racing whilst at primary school.

She later joined Blackheath & Bromley Harriers Athletic Club, where she is still a member. In a recent interview, her coach shed some light on Dina’s rise to success. Having arrived at one of her earliest club sessions, people thought she was too small to compete. That was, until she won her first event, which was cross-country.

And so the story began, where natural talent and no small amount of good genetics have combined with consistent coaching, effort, training and improvements, to produce one of the greatest performances British athletics has seen.

A quick Google search will show you that the list of Asher-Smith’s sporting achievements is a long one, as a child, teenager and as an adult. For those that know her, this comes as no surprise.

What many people may not know, is that as well as focusing on her athletics career and all that goes with developing and sustaining sporting excellence, Asher-Smith also achieved a BA (Hons) from Kings College London in 2017.

This is clearly someone prepared to put in the work to achieve the desired outcome in her chosen endeavours!

Earlier I referred to parallels between sporting excellence and academic success. This is because great exam results and gaining entry to schools of choice or one’s desired university aren’t built upon effort expended in the previous term or two.

Just like Asher-Smith’s athletics career, the foundations for academic success are built over time and with continuous application, dedication, persistence and high-quality teaching.

Each and every year, I am approached before exams by anxious parents looking for support. By then it’s often too late to provide meaningful support. Whilst it’s possible, with the right tutor and structure, to revise an entire curriculum in a short timeframe, teaching huge swathes of material and ensuring it is absorbed through testing recall and reasoning is another matter entirely.

With this in mind, I urge any parent who may considering private tuition to do so as part of a long-term plan for success. Just as I do not advocate last minute cramming, with few exceptions, last minute tutoring can also be a lost cause.

Planning for academic success should of in school years and not terms. If one does not wish to leave results to chance, or to risk the perils of anxiety caused by a lack of preparedness, it’s never too early to speak to an appropriate tutor.