July 29th saw our Chase Your Dream, No Matter What ambassador Chris Mears partnering with Team GB to help people face and triumph over their fears. Chris is no stranger to struggle. He was told he would never compete again after a life-threatening illness landed him in a coma for 3 days, but Chris proved his critics wrong and fought his way back to health, and to Olympic gold at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Having overcome the obstacles he encountered in large part due to the having a ‘fighter mentality’, Chris is dedicated to helping others realise how self-belief and a positive mental attitude can be their greatest strength in battling and overcoming life’s challenges.
After welcoming the participants at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds – his local gym and where he trains – Chris revealed the challenge they were to face, a jump off the 10m diving tower. As the words sank in, the emotions on each of their faces spoke volumes about the magnitude of the task at hand. To provide support and crucial coping techniques to deal with fear and anxiety, Chris enlisted one of his own team psychologists, Laura Cosgrove, and former Olympian and sport psychologist, Greg Whyte OBE.
During the psychological coaching session Chris, Laura and Greg prepared the participants by teaching them breathing and mental exercises, and walking them through the mechanics of the jump itself. Encouraging them to visualise the jump as well as its aftermath, Greg talked about harnessing the feeling of elation they would feel upon overcoming the challenge:
“Just think about how incredible you will feel when you land in the water, you come up to the surface, and you’ve actually done it.”
Fiona Rawes, intent on regaining her confidence and self-belief after a battle with cancer shared her thoughts and doubts about the task at hand before the jump:
“I think it’s an incredible challenge and it is something want to do. Whether I’ll be able to do it is something else."
Michael Weir talked about what it would mean for him to defeat his fear of heights and take the plunge:
“It will mean I’m not going to let myself be ruled by things that scare me.”
Mark Grimmett, a maths teacher who travelled up for the event from Guildford, has struggled with the pressures and anxieties of being a perfect role model for his students. He wanted to complete the challenge to show his students that “Anything you can set your mind to, you can achieve.”
The day proved to be full of excitement and soaring emotions as each participant, supported throughout by Chris, Laura and Greg fought their battle with the diving tower and their own fears and insecurities. Chris supported our battlers on their journey, walking them through the dive, and providing inspiration and encouragement by talking about the obstacles he faced whilst fighting to achieve his own dream.
At the end of the emotional day Chris commented:
“It’s a long way to the top of the 10m diving tower but having the right attitude and spirit lets you overcome obstacles in life to reach your end goal; like jumping off the tower! It was great to share this with the group today to help them understand that they can chase their dream, no matter what.”
This grassroots event was the first of a series this year to be hosted as part of Bridgestone UK’s Chase Your Dream, No Matter What campaign, which seeks to inspire everyday battlers to share their dream and chase it, no matter what. Keep an eye out for two further grassroots events, hosted by Double Olympic gold medallist Daley Thompson and number 1 female British golfer Charley Hull later this year.
To find out more about Chris Mears’ inspiring story, watch his video here.