Updated: May 16
This week Neurodiverse Sport stepped into the world of video/audio recording and editing to bring you the story of Greg Searle MBE!
Greg is an Olympic rower who has raced at four Olympic Games and medalled at three; winning a gold in the Men's Coxed Pair in Barcelona 1992, and a bronze in both Men's Coxless Four in Atlanta 1996, and the Men's Coxed Eight in London 2012. He also has dyslexia. He talks to us about the unique strengths he feels his differences have afforded him, and the importance of knowing how you learn best - especially as a neurodivergent person. We also discuss the importance of having a coach who can intuitively adapt to different learning styles in a non-judgemental manner, and how integral this is to a neurodivergent athlete performing to the best of their abilities.
Watch the interview highlights below:
About The Interview
We are very grateful that Greg reached out to us, and I was particularly grateful that my first attempt at interviewing was with someone so personable and also so practiced at public speaking! The interview is far from perfect - the intro/outro music is laughable (but free), I had to cut my introduction because I called Greg old (#autism), and the audio is not the greatest quality (recorded in a shed). BUT the important thing is the message, which in my opinion is one of understanding and collaboration, and we hope that on watching or listening, you are led to a similarly positive conclusion.
I should mention here that Greg wanted to highlight the particular importance of two influential coaches in his life. The first, Steve Gunn coached Greg very early on in his sporting career, and was responsible for ingraining the basic principles of 'how to be a good athlete'. Having
been coached briefly by Steve myself, I can see how his extensive use of imagery, energy, and an ability to tell the stark truth in a humorous way, could prove to be a very effective combination when coaching neurodivergent athletes.
The second coach Greg made a point to celebrate was Harry Mahon, who Greg built an extremely strong bond with over his early career as a Great Britain athlete, and who he was utterly devastated to lose on 2001 when Harry unfortunately died of cancer. Harry's coaching style was very person-centred, and he not only used imagery extensively when coaching Greg (perhaps intuitively picking up on Greg's proclivity for this type of learning), but also afforded him with the freedom and responsibility to make his own decisions or determinations. This seems to be a recurring theme when it comes to neurodivergent athletes, who perhaps because of their differences, appear to thrive when given slightly more freedom or individual attention.
If sports teams as a whole had a greater understanding of neurodivergence, and if the coaches were better equipped to adapt 'in the moment' could these athletes be better included rather than inadvertently left out or driven away?