Kevin Mayer, the world decathlon record-holder and world champion from France, looks back on his pre-teen years and gives himself a serious pep-talk.
Dear Little Kevin:
I know you like your food, but please try to be careful with your sugar intake. Each morning I know you enjoy cornflakes, spreads, buns and breads for breakfast. However, I’m not so sure such a nutritional regime is ideal preparation for life as an athlete.
Now I know each athlete differs but you, Little Kevin, have a very low tolerance to sugar. I’d advise you quit sugar as this will put you in a better mood and help you avoid injury. Of course, you can allow yourself the occasional guilty pleasure but just try to avoid food that does not agree with you. Listen to your body and try to eat good food as often as possible.
Also, I realise that you are still 12 years old and you have not yet fully matured, but I have some sage advice. I don’t mind the fact that you want to look good around everyone, but over time it is far more important to impress only those who genuinely care for you.
Little Kevin, you are also very reliant on your seniors to guide you and give you the right advice. Now, there is no harm expecting a lot from others, but it is far more important to expect more from yourself. Taking on this philosophy will ask more from others around you. Unless you set the example, no one will follow.
Try to question yourself more rather than blame the whole world for any problems you may face. If something is not going well, it is not because of the actions of others. Take on a greater responsibility.
Finally, Little Kevin, I know you are a huge Harry Potter fan and you love JK Rowling’s beautiful balance between description and action. I also understand that each time that you read her books you are transported to another world. I’m sorry to bring this news to you, but try not to wait around too long to receive your invite to Hogwarts, because, as you will come to discover, it is all pure fiction!
Steve Landells for the IAAF