“We are students of life” - the words of an Olympic gold medalist
Being an Olympic gold medalist is certainly not a feat just anyone can achieve. David Smith, 2012 Olympic gold medalist for Team GB in rowing, is more than just an athlete though. A man who has achieved sporting greatness, the pinnacle you could say, is also a man of inspiration off the race course and training.
After surviving cancer, Smith has taken his life teachings and is now passing them on to others. His passion for mental health is something that drives him and has made him an inspirational figure.
“I have a huge passion in positive psychology”
Despite winning a gold medal on the grandest sporting stage in the world, Smith’s true passion is in positive psychology. It is through his experiences in sport and recovering from a life threatening illness, that allowed him to realise how passionate he was about psychology.
“It’s probably something subconsciously I’ve been interested in. I’m consciously experiencing stuff around mental things,” said Smith.
His sporting career provided him with lessons, as he said: “Sport teaches you the value of persistence and courage.”
“It’s something that has organically flourished”
Smith touched on the fact that sport teaches you lessons along the way, not just competitively though. However, he also speaks about more of his interest in positive psychology.
“It's something that has organically flourished, being diagnosed with a tumour was a turning point for my life,” said Smith.
In recent years, there have been moments where Smith has thought of the highest points of his career and life, whilst he was in hospital, saying: “Laying in ICU in November 2018 I was thinking of all those memories, standing on the podium, all the training sessions.”
Adopting and understanding his philosophy - “We don’t own tomorrow”
Talking about his career’s almost definitive moment in his career, competing in the 2012 Olympic games, Smith said: “In the moment it was an incredible experience, it was mixed emotion. You are under an extreme amount of pressure. I wish I could go back and live it again and not take it for granted,”
He said his achievements in sport are not his drive: “My achievements in sport do not drive me at all, my real inner drive is knowing my philosophy. We don’t own tomorrow.”
Overtime, Smith adopted philosophies: “I didn't have those philosophies before, I am a different person now to what I was then.” said Smith
With his closing words, Smith expressed that anyone struggling, only has to reach out and ask for help.
“If someone is struggling it is so important to reach out, it can be a friend or professional person. There is no shame in vulnerability.” said Smith.