I get knocked down… and then what

Reading about the fall-out from UK Sport’s decisions about funding for the different governing bodies in this country on the BBC website today, I was sad to hear that some sports – handball, basketball, table tennis and wrestling – have lost all of their central funding up to Rio in 2016. The headline news story on the BBC, which you can read here, is the reaction from a GB handball player, saying that he feels betrayed by UK Sport because, in his mind, their actions go against the legacy aims of the London Games.

UK Sport and the government say, however, that the GB Handball team came last in their group and have very little chance of qualifying for Rio in four years time so the money is better spent on sports that might have a chance of winning something.

Paula Radcliffe winning World Cross Country Champs in Ostend (© Allsport)

So what does this have to do with running. Well, the point I want to make is this: life will not always run smoothly and there will be setbacks. I was told a while ago about Paula Radcliffe’s first race at a national level, when as a 12 year old in 1986 she placed 299th out of around 600 in the girls’ race of the English Schools Cross Country Championships. Fifteen years later, Paula won the World Cross Country Championships.

I am sure that coming 299th was a disappointment for Paula but she was not deterred. She worked harder and trained smarter until she became the best in the world. GB Handball could take a leaf out of her book.

No one, and no National Governing Body, has a right to succeed – it always comes down to a few things:

  • hard work
  • luck (and it is funny how the harder you work, the luckier you get!)
  • support from people who believe in you
  • self belief
  • hard work

So when you are faced with a set back, don’t grumble and don’t fold. Regroup, take a deep breath and think about how you are going to take a step forward. Then take that step forward. Finish the next race in 298th place and keep going forwards until you – whether ‘you’ is an individual, a team or a national sport – is standing on top of the podium having achieved what you set out to achieve. It can be done, I promise.





  1. I’ve been feeling a bit low as I’ve been injured and ill for three months now. It’s been one thing after another. Just as I’ve felt things have been going well again something else has happened. Read this and it gave me a little boost. The bad patches don’t last forever. Just pick yourself up and keep going. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway. Thanks for this post Simon.

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