Champs share their tips for well-being

The Chat with Champions series is still going strong into the second week of the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG), and this time, the Olympians spoke to a packed out Yodli Cafe about nutrition, body image and recovery.

  • Canadian curler John Morris shared his secret to keeping a clear mind thanks to nutrition.
  • American freestyle skier Hannah Kearney discussed her road to recovery from injuries.
  • For Greek cross-country skier Maria Ntanou, avoiding burnout was key to success.

Doing your own thing

For John Morris, Olympic curling champion with Canada, his secret weapon is a blender which he brings with him to competitions!

“If I have a morning game, I put together a smoothie and that makes my mind clear and I feel really good going into the game especially if I’ve given myself enough time to digest.” John’s theory is that there is a strong relationship between the stomach and the brain.

“I’ve discovered that I play better on different foods. It can make your brain foggy [when not eating the correct food],” he continued.

Learning how to step away

The champions then responded to a question about burnout and how to make the most of resting between competition. Hannah Kearney knows more than most about breaks from sport, as some of hers were forced by injury. Nevertheless, the Vancouver 2010 American freestyle skiing champion used the breaks to her advantage.

“I learned that injuries are actually the best kind of break,” she told the young athletes. “Doing the things you can’t do when you’re training is great. And you learn about your body with injury – you have people around you providing support, too, which is important.”

Maria Ntanou, two-time Greek Winter Olympian in cross-country skiing agrees, and took a significant break from the sport to come back stronger.

“I actually suffered from burnout last year. I combined sport and work and I came out with fatigue, so I took a break of six months.”

“It’s important to love your body”

All three Olympians recognised the importance of taking care of yourself, and especially making sure that you are comfortable with your body image.

Hannah told the audience about when her own mother had remarked about her weight gains in the past, but when she took on sports tests, she had never been performing so well.

“Ultimately, you don’t need to look like ‘that’ person on Instagram, you need to look like what your body needs to look like to perform to its best,” Hannah said.

This was a message that shone through in the responses of all three champions: it’s more important for your body to be in its best condition to do your sport than for it to just look like everyone else. Maria also reminded those in attendance that loving yourself and being comfortable in your own skin is more important than what others think of you.

“It’s important to love your body and appreciate what nature did for you. I made this mistake, I used to compare myself to others in the past.”

If you’ve enjoyed hearing some of the insight from the champions, why not read about some of their advice on injuries and training by clicking here.