GB rowers take part in athlete mentoring programme

Former and current GB rowers will mentor younger athletes from different sports in a programme from the True Athlete Project

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Five current and former GB rowers are taking part in a pioneering athlete mentoring programme which matches young, aspiring athletes (aged 15-24) with world-class champions to develop skills beyond their sport performance.

Vicky Thornley, Benjamin Pritchard, Ollie Cook, Alex Partridge and Stephen Feeney will work together with their mentees for a year, with one-to-one mentoring sessions taking place every one or two weeks.

The True Athlete Project (TAP) aims to bring about a more compassionate culture of sport through a range of innovative, mindfulness-based programmes at all levels of sport.

Sam Parfitt, TAP’s CEO and founder, said: “The aim of the programme is to support the person behind the young athlete, and prove that when the person flourishes, so does their sporting performance.”

Olympic silver medallist Vicky Thornley will be mentoring 18-year-old Justine Sansom, a netball and lacrosse player.

Vicky said: “I decided to apply to be a part of this year’s TAP mentoring project as I am passionate about helping the next generation. I never had a formal mentor as a young athlete, but I can see how it would have really helped me in my early years, in terms of support, a sounding board and where appropriate some advice.

“Therefore, I want to provide that for someone else. I am also looking forward to learning from my mentee. She is a very driven and talented young woman, so I am very excited to be part of her journey this year.”

“It is a privilege to work alongside Tristan in what he’s sharpening and shaping”

Delighted to be a part of the True Athlete Programme, GB Para rower Benjamin Pritchard is paired with 15-year-old table tennis player Connor Green.

Benjamin said: “I was very fortunate growing up to be surrounded by great people and mentors and I’m hoping that I can draw on some of my previous experiences to help a young athlete in their development!”

Olympians Ollie Cook and Alex Partridge are both returning for their second year as TAP mentors. Ollie has been paired with professional snooker player Aaron Hill, while Alex, an Olympic silver and bronze medallist, will support GB fencer Louis Taiwo-Williams.

Last, but not least, former GB rower Stephen Feeney will mentor 18-year-old Tristan Marshall, British champion Nordic skier.

Stephen said: “The TAP journey is really exciting. It is a privilege to work alongside Tristan in what he’s sharpening and shaping. There is strength in numbers and gathering like-minds. TAP does this and I’m grateful to be part of it.”

These five rowers join 72 other athletes, from a total of 34 sports and 10 countries, who are taking part in this unique, global programme. To support the regular mentoring sessions there is a holistic curriculum based on five themes: Performance, Identity & Values, Mindfulness, Community responsibility and Nature & Connectedness.

Mentees get the majority of their ‘training’ through the mentors, supplemented with some group workshops throughout the year, whilst the mentors receive an array of training in mentoring and communication skills; how to work with their mentee on the themes of the curriculum, and the key elements of the TAP approach and philosophy.

Find out more about the True Athlete Project here.

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