ATHLETE OF THE MONTH - GB STAR - GEORGIA CARMICHAEL

Introducing Georgia Carmichael! The most inspirational youth athlete we've ever met. 

Here is a list of her results from 2018:

- 5x National Champion in Sprint Racing

- 2x National Champion in Marathon Racing

- 2x Gold Medals at International European Sprint Regatta Piestany

- 2x Silver Medals at World Cup Marathon for Junior category and the youngest to compete at the event at 16 in a U18 event, so still 2 more years left as a junior.

- 7th World Ranking in Sprint Racing at Olympic Hopes in the age category above.

- Achieving a GB junior record in Sprint in U18 at 16, so fastest time to ever be recorded in Great Britain from a Junior girl in Sprint.

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Photo credit Iain Mclntyre

We caught up with Georgia Carmichael (GC) to dig into the tactics, techniques and mindset of a very successful youth athlete. Hopefully, she will inspire many other young athletes to pursue their dreams of rising to the top.

YSN: When did you first hear of Youth Sport Nutrition? 

GC: I heard about Youth Sport Nutrition through researching a protein shake suitable for younger athletes and I found YSN which was perfect as it is aimed at youth athletes.

YSN: How did you get into your first sport, and how old were you?

GC: Since I was young I was always involved in sport from hockey to netball and horse riding, until I was 11 and I found kayaking. I went to a local sports clubs open day and they had a kayaking section which really interested me because I had never seen it before and that was the start of my kayaking career.

YSN: Did you have any key idols or role models that you looked up to and wanted to replicate, and if so, why?

GC: I have 3 main role models; My mum, Lisa Carrington and Stephen hawking. Each for three different reasons. My mum is the most inspirational woman and continues to impress me day by day even though being a typical teenager I don't always show her how grateful I am for everything she does because if it wasn't for her I would be unable to train and she inspires me day on day to keep going and to prove people the impossible is possible. Lisa Carrington is my second inspiration because she is one of the best female kayakers, she has two Olympic Gold medals and multiple World Championship medals, as well as a world record. And finally Stephen Hawking, he is someone I look up to because he shows us that no matter what people say it is what you believe and its up to you to prove people anything is possible. In 1963 he was given two more years to live yet he lIved on many, many more years and achieved great things. Stephen Hawking defied the odds, anything is possible.

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Photo credit Georgia Carmichael

YSN: How do you cater for your sports nutrition? What sort of meal plans/nutritional strategies did you utilise?

GC: Nutrition is a big part of my training and I enjoy learning new things to help improve my training with nutrition. Due to it being the winter training currently, we have a higher calorie intake, high in protein especially. I try treat as healthy as I can however occasionally I do have a treat as I feel its important to enjoy my rest time too and have fun. I always ensure I have 3 meals a day as I feel you have to fuel your body to get your full potential out of it.

YSN: Let downs and injury are a common feature of being a professional athlete, can you tell us how you motivate yourself and what keeps you going through major incidents or tough circumstances?

GC: I have had a fair few injuries especially over the last 2 years. In June 2017 my life changed after sustaining a brain injury. Over the few weeks after my injury I found myself stripped of all my independence, lying in a hospital bed paralysed from the neck down, unable to breathe on my own or eat and with very little of memory of my past life and worst of all no one knew what was wrong. Long story short after many months and gruelling physio and treatments we got the diagnosis of Functional Neurological Disorder (FND).

FND is when your brain can not send or receive messages properly, affecting your nervous system and comes with many unpleasant symptoms and challenges. After weeks of intense physio I relearnt everything from breathing to walking and talking none of which people thought were possible however I truly believe my sport saved me as I had been taught through training that you have to work hard to get the results so I transferred that into my physio and proved people wrong. Through it all I could not of done it without any of the people who helped me a long the way, each person made a huge impact on getting me back to being me.

One of the things keeping me going was the thought of being back in my boat and I set my goal to do that, in January 2018 I did just that and I will never ever forget that feeling, the best day of my life. I had got somewhere that no one ever thought I would. I still had and still to this day have so many challenges I have to face on a daily basis as my condition is chronic but I will never let it define me or tell me what I can and can't do.

Facing a setback can be heartbreaking and seems like the end of everything but I found setting small daily goals to reach my overall aim helped me along the way. Your mind plays a huge role in your recovery so the important thing is to stay motivated and positive and things do get better. Over the past 18  months especially I have faced many setbacks but each one makes me a stronger athlete and teaches me more ways to be the best athlete I can be. Injuries are our best teachers, they teach us how to face challenges and that nothing comes without hard work and dedication. I will never let FND determine who I am or what i'm going to be.

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Photo credit Georgia Carmichael

YSN: As a very successful youth athlete, how often do you train, and how has this changed depending on your sport?

GC: Currently I am training 7 days a week including 2x a day during the week, including before school. As I can't kayak as much during the week due to the dark, I run instead or swim and I sometimes find other alternatives for training and I like researching different ways to improve each component of fitness.

YSN: What does it feel like to win competitions? Describe the emotion and senses involved during and afterwards.

GC: The feeling of winning a competition is the best feeling, when I am feeling less motivated with my training and struggling with the early mornings or training in the cold at weekends I remember the feeling I get when I cross that finish line in 1st and that's what keeps me motivated to keep pushing. After the World Cup this year, achieving two silver medals, which I was told was never going to be possible, crossing that line was the best feeling everything seemed worth it and it showed me anything is possible. I will never forget that moment in my life.

YSN: What are your future aspirations?

GC: My ultimate aspiration is to win a Gold Medal in the Olympics and to help promote kayaking to get more young people into the sport. My aspirations next year are to get to the World Championships in K2 (2 people in a boat) with my amazing K2 partner Kate Hipkins. As well as sport I have future aspirations with helping other with FND and have recently become an ambassador for the charity FND. I hope to help inspire others and show them there is more to life than FND.

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Photo credit Georgia Carmichael

YSN: What is your favourite quote?

My Favourite quote is:

"The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible"

- Joel Brown

YSN: What does your ‘internal chatter’ look/sound like in the run up to your event time? What strategies do you use to calm nerves and remain focused?

GC: I use many techniques before a race, if it is a sprint race I will listen to upbeat music as well as using imagery, I imagine my race going well and go through my whole race plan so I'm prepared for my race. For a marathon race I listen to focus music and run through different race tactics as well as checking all my equipment through and preparing for the long race. I always try to motivate myself before the race and have some individual time before I start my races.

YSN: What advice would you offer to Parents of youth athletes regarding their training, the pressure to perform (academic and sporting) and catering for nutrition? How can parents best support their training objectives?

GC: A balance is very important, with training, school and social life. Usually I don't get home from training until late and therefore meals have to be quicker to cook, which limits our options, however, my mum always puts the effort into making sure I have the correct meals to get the full benefits out of my training.

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Photo credit Georgia Carmichael

YSN: Any tips for balancing training, academic studies, competitions/games and a social life?

GC: Forming a balance is vital and I found that having a structured routine has really helped me with this. I have a timetable for each week for my training, school, study time and free time because at the end of the day I'm still a teenager and can only be a teenager once so I make sure I do not miss out too much, its all about a healthy balance. I have to admit I do occasionally miss training for important social events such as prom or a school event and also if I am behind on school work because I want to have a good education, it is just as important as my sport. During my GCSEs I found that my sport helped get through the stressful time and was a way to get my mind of all the revision and exam pressure, but I did have to reduce some of my training so I could focus on my exams. 

YSN: What are your objective thoughts on Youth Sport Nutrition designing PRO-TEEN®, the first safe supplement for high level youth athletes to support their recovery post training/match?

GC: I think PRO-TEEN® is an original product which is so useful for youth athletes which helps us to get the best out of our training, and it tastes good too! PRO-TEEN® is a unique product that delivers helps youth athletes to meet the unique nutritional demands that participation in top level sport requires. Being a youth athlete we have different requirements, as we are still growing, and we put our bodies through a lot of physical demand. PRO-TEEN® is batch tested, so I feel good using it as I know I'm being a clean athlete and I'm getting all the nutrients I need after training safely.

YSN: What are your thoughts on using sports supplements, do they have a place in elite sport and how do you avoid compromising anti-doping regulations? What safe practices can parents or youth athletes take to ensure their safety and compliance?

GC: I feel there is a big debate whether sports supplements are beneficial or not, I believe that some are unnecessary, however, it varies with each individual athlete as we all have different needs, from my experience PRO-TEEN® benefits me as it has the nutrients and vitamins I need. PRO-TEEN® is necessary after training as I don't get enough protein through food so this helps to keep me healthy and keep my body fully functioning. Anti-doping is something that all athletes should be educated on as it is a very important part of sport. There are trusted websites such as global dro to check any medications and Informed Sport for supplements. I use this regularly to check anything from medication to cereal bars and herbal remedies because I am often surprised by the products that are banned, but I feel it is necessary to check to ensure you are being clean in sport.

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Photo credit Georgia Carmichael

Thanks Gerogia! You are a true inspiration, and we're behind you all the way to achieving your Olympic Gold dream! 

#TeamYSN

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4 comments

  • An inspirational article and thoroughly deserved! Georgia has weathered all kinds of challenges that life has thrown at her over the last 18 months, her dedication and perseverance in the face of adversity is an example to us all.
    Maggie Heywood
  • What a great inspirational artcle. The challenges Georgia has faced and overcome is such an achievement and I I hope her success continues. Well done Georgia you are truly a role model to teenagers and adults alike! Keep up the training and the gift you have x

    Sarah Kumjim
  • Georgia is an positive young role model for all young woman and a much needed amazing example of perseverance, courage and hope for the FND community. Thank you!

    Bridget Mildon

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