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EIS helps athletes expand coaching skills through #More2Me initiative

18 May 2022

A group of British Triathlon athletes took the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and skills recently, taking part in a coaching course that was part funded by the English Institute of Sport (EIS), which is encouraging athletes to improve their sport-life balance through its #More2Me initiative. 

“Your sporting career is just a small part of your journey; it’s an important part of you but there’s so much more that encapsulates who you are.” 

That’s the view of Claire Cashmore, four-time Paralympian and one of the attendees at the Level 2 coaching course. 

The coaching course captures the essence of the #More2Me campaign, run by the EIS through its Performance Lifestyle service, which is designed to help athletes develop a better balance between sport and their lives outside of it, and recognise the benefits of planning for retirement and life after sport. 

The course culminates in a qualification which enables participants to coach triathlon squads, and combines video, virtual and practical learning. The participants will tackle several assessments over the next year and also deliver some coaching sessions while continuing their own training. 

Cashmore was joined on the course by Olympic athlete Tom Bishop, who said: “We were able to be fast-tracked because of our career in high performance sport.  

“The coach educators were impressed with what we already knew, so we were able to go straight to Level 2. 

“This initiative [#More2Me] and putting on this coaching course is great; it’s giving people options and opening doors for us. I hope this will be the start of more courses like this.”

Claire Cashmore competes in the Women’s PTS5 Triathlon at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (Image: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

That positive reaction was echoed by Cashmore, who added: “It was great to gain a bit more knowledge and, as it was all elite athletes on the course, it was really good to learn from each other.  

“I decided to take part because I felt I’d like to learn more about the sport, having come in at a later stage in my career and missed quite a lot of the basics and the key skills.  

“I’d love to get more para athletes involved in triathlon, give them some of that knowledge and coach them into being the best version of themselves.” 

Coaching is a natural next step for Bishop, too, who said: “I spent a lot of time during the pandemic year to hopefully enable me to become a successful coach when I retire from the sport.  

“I’m 30 now, and there’s quite a few young athletes coming through, so I’m starting to think about setting myself up for when I do move away from the sport.  

“I already feel like I play a mentoring role with some of the younger athletes in Leeds, so to take that one step further would be pretty cool.” 

Encouraging athletes to develop interests outside of their current sporting endeavours – potentially unlocking talents for use in retirement – is one of the central aims of the EIS Performance Lifestyle programme. 

And Cashmore, 33, is aware of the importance of being proactive in that area, rather than neglecting it until retirement draws near. 

“With our sporting careers, you want them to be as long as possible, but you never know,” she said. 

“It’s really important to give yourself an identity away from sport, to round yourself as much as possible, between who you are and your values, and discovering what it is that interests you away from sport. 

“British Triathlon really encourage us to develop as people as well as athletes, which is great; it’s really refreshing that they encourage us to get out there and develop ourselves.” 

Cashmore, who lists travelling and trying new food among her interests, added: “Performance Lifestyle is critical in giving you the tools to go and develop yourself outside of sport, and help you to realise the transferable skills that you have as an athlete that you can take into the real world.   

“#More2Me is what it says on the tin – having that understanding that we are more than a medal, or an athlete, a swimmer, a triathlete; you have an identity outside of that, you are a brother, a sister, a niece or nephew, you are a mum or dad, whatever you might be.  

“Your sporting career is just a small part of your journey; it’s an important part of you but there’s so much more that encapsulates who you are and what you can offer to the big wide world. 

“Finding that out is so hard when you’re in your little bubble, so it’s about stepping outside of that comfort zone and finding those areas that interest you and you want to develop for the future.” 

Tom Bishop in action at the GE Blenheim Triathlon (Image: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Bishop, similarly, is keen that the skills he’s built up in elite level competition are used for the benefit of others. 

He said: “I’ve always known I wouldn’t be able to retire after my triathlon career and I’m quite pragmatic in that sense, but I’ve always known I wanted to stay in the sport.  

“I feel like I’m skilled and I’ve built up so much knowledge in this sport, so there’s no point for me in wasting that and going to get a job in another industry.  

“I’d hopefully be a useful resource for British Triathlon, or a club, so it would be great to get a full-time job in the sport.   

“[EIS] Performance Lifestyle is a really useful part of our support system. Being funded athletes and part of the system, we’re lucky that we have really good direction and that level of support.” 

#More2Me has been developed by the English Institute of Sport’s (EIS) Performance Lifestyle team which delivers a personalised support service to athletes from more than 30 UK Sport funded world class performance programmes. EIS Performance Lifestyle services are available to more than 1,200 elite athletes and are designed to provide them with a variety of personal and career development support opportunities. Further information on #More2Me and details of how athletes can access support are available via your sport’s Performance Lifestyle Practitioner.