Amy Connell European Bronze Medalist talks training and support

This Karate Blog is from our latest Podcast and is part 3 of 6

Amy Connell is one of Britain’s top fighters. She is a WKF European Bronze Medalist in Kumite, and represented Team GB at the European Games in Minsk. She now has her sights set on Tokyo 2021.

What role do others play or have others played in your development to this point in your career? You mean people around me? 

For me I have been really lucky. I personally have a great little group around me. I think most people do when your up at that high level and so for me my coach has been with me since I was tiny and we have a really, really good relationship which i’m so grateful for. He comes with me to different competitions, reduces me to tears in training, in a good way so, yeah, i’ve been really lucky with Martin Douglas, that’s who I have as my coach. We also have an amazing squad in Shitokai Scotland that’s my dad’s club. We grew up there and all the competitors just bounce off each other,  we have a really good energy i’m so grateful for my teammates, again it depends on who you have got around you but you need people to push you in training. I’ve got so many people that are just pushing me to become better and because they are wanting to get better themselves, so again the people around me are really good.  We are such a good team everybody genuinely does play a massive part and I think that everybody in a club plays a part whether it’s someone who you train with every day or whether it’s the people that you fight with when you do little tournaments. I believe that you can take something from from everybody, so i’m going to step back and not name any of them, but there are so many I have an incredible squad from Shitokai Scotland the full team they all know who they are. I have also got good family around me my mum, my dad, my sister and my sister coaches as well. So just having people to understand what you do and why you’re doing it makes a big difference.

Not everyone has access to a competitive club. So what kind of things do you do outside of the dojo that helps you be a better performer on the tatami?

I personally do a lot of Olympic lifting, that type of thing so in the gym i’ve got strength coach, I do exercises for plyometrics to create a power base, as well as just general fitness, like your normal gym cardio work, but I do a lot of explosive power stuff because it translates really well into karate with the skills that we do for our kicking and punching and being really explosive sharp movements.

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Have you had any unexpected moments in training or competition that challenged your understanding of how good you are as an athlete and competitor?

Definitely. I think, in training that’s when most of the time you doubt yourself, I think a lot of the the hard work and the kind of sacrifice and the tears and emotion all comes out in training, the tough training sessions. So I think a lot of the time in training I would say that there are doubts there, all the time moves aren’t working properly in those training sessions, and sessions that just don’t go your way and it’s not because you are a terrible athlete, its just because on that day things were not working for you and it is the same in competitions. Sometimes things just don’t go your way in competition but it doesn’t affect you, (or you shouldn’t let it) it does not mean you are the worst athlete, it just means that you were not your best that day. You could not bring your best A game that day. So I think that there has been a lot of times when I have doubted myself.

I think if you speak to any athlete there has been times where they will have thought can I really do this, can I overcome this? Will I get better? Will I actually be able to do this? But it is just being mentally strong in those moments and thinking do you know what? I’m doing my best! it is all I can do! When you turn up for training you do leave everything there on the mat and if you do that time and time again then I think that helps build that mental stability you need to succeed in competition.

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