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Interview with trampolining icon and Olympian Kirsten Lawton

One great thing about the League is that we get to speak to some incredible people from the sport – past and present. We caught up with Kirsten Lawton, former member of Team GB and second female trampolining Olympian. Here is what she had to say:

13 years since retiring, what are you up to now?

Well I am now married to a member of the French national tumbling team and we live in France with our two children Lola and Milo. I set up and run an international au pair agency meaning I find placements for au pairs wishing to spend time abroad in a host family.

What was your biggest achievement in trampolining?

I’d say my biggest achievement in trampolining was to be the second woman ever to compete for Great Britain in trampolining at the Olympics (Athens 2004). I am also proud of my unbeaten world record in synchronised trampolining.

When training, how did you set your goals?

I worked out my goals with my coach, from short term training and competition goals, to long term career and skills goals. They were always performance orientated instead of results driven. This was to keep me focused on how I was competing and training rather than how everyone around me was doing, and what the judges were giving me in terms of scores. The good results always occurred if the performance went well!

What was your biggest challenge and what did you do to manage this?

I think my biggest challenge was fear. From the age of about 16 I had times where I became scared in training. I worked with my coach (and the year of the Olympics with sports psychologists) to try to find techniques to help me work through and around my fear. During the periods of time where I felt more confident, I optimised my training doing as much as possible and also worked very hard on physical preparation off the trampoline at all times. Fear was not easy to live with and in the end it caused exhaustion, but I never regret pushing through it for years to achieve my Olympic goal.

Where did you draw your inspiration from?

I drew inspiration from athletes in the older generation (when I was younger) aspiring to do the moves they did and the way they did them. Admiring those that had gone before me and learning from them. I also took a lot of inspiration from my training partners and the rest of the team – sharing experiences, encouraging one another, pushing each other on, team victories, the list goes on. It was all inspiring to want to perform even better the next time.

What was the best advice you were ever given?

Throughout my whole career my coach instilled in me the importance of correct focus. She would say: “The only person you can control and work on is yourself. Focus on your competitive performance and do your best. Don’t waste time worrying about how well everyone else is doing. It only adds stress and shifts your attention to something you can do nothing about.”

How different is the sport now compared to when you were jumping?

I think the sport has become more and more ‘professional’ over the last few years. Changes to funding and long-term inclusion as an Olympic sport means that demands are possibly higher in terms of results. Changes to equipment has meant new training styles too.

It is clear that media interest has grown and for some top performers it is now possible for them to call trampolining their job. One thing that remains constant despite changes in the sport is the athletes who succeed in any generation are the ones with talent, hard work and who are passionate about the sport.

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