November 2023, Articles

Empower workshop targets Paris 2024

A small group of 10 athletes aspiring to be in Paris for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024 came together earlier this month for a two day workshop, Empower, which aimed to provide skills in a safe and secure space for athletes to share some of their hopes, dreams and fears.

Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls were nominated by their NSOs for the workshop, facilitated by HPSNZ’s Performance Life team headed by Chris Arthur and supported by Carolyn Donaldson.

The group ranged from experienced Olympians and world champions, international representatives through to junior world champions just beginning their performance journey.

Chris says the mix allowed athletes to share their stories and the learnings were hugely powerful.

Over the two days, the group unpacked the 10 behaviours of successful people using the approach of David Keane, looked at communication styles based on DISC profiling, explored French language and culture and started the development of wellbeing plans.

A fifth place at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games has given Kiwi javelin athlete Tori Peeters a real appetite to become a first time Olympian in 2024.

She says she absolutely loved the weekend, spending quality time with athletes from other sports who all share the same dream.  “While the sports were different and challenges highly individual, there were certainly common themes which we had the space and time to share.”

A highlight for Tori was the session exploring French language and culture.  “I had tried to learn some French on my own but had found that really difficult.  This session not only helped give some important context, especially to French culture, but also learning how to respond politely to general courtesies.  It was a fun challenge.”

Fellow first time Olympic prospect, three times Commonwealth Games diver Liam Stone, says his first reaction when he arrived at the workshop was amazement at how small and intimate it was.  “I must confess I initially had a bout of imposter syndrome and just felt so honoured to be part of the group.”

Liam also voiced similar thoughts and highlights from the workshop as Tori.

“Connecting with other like-minded athletes was really valuable,” says Liam.  “Even at events like the Commonwealth Games it is rare to connect and engage with lots of other athletes as you tend to be very focused on your own thing.  Empower demonstrated how we can all grow and help each other, regardless of sport and experience.”

At the other end of the experience spectrum, canoe slalom’s Luuka Jones, in her fifth Olympic cycle, says it was a real highlight coming together with so many amazing athletes, sharing stories and taking cross sport learnings away.

“The workshop was extremely well run and at a personal level it did a number of things – helped me confirm the things that are important and that you never stop learning,” says Luuka.

“There were lots of learning for me to take away and introduce into my planning and preparation which I’m dubbing the ‘leave no stone unturned’ campaign.”

Chris says the energy and enthusiasm in the room throughout the two days was palpable.  “I feel incredibly grateful to be facilitating an amazing group of athletes that talked about the legacy they want to leave, how they could achieve high performance in life and how they will support their communities.

“Our objectives for the Empower workshop were personal development, introducing new skills, new thinking and motivating new hope as well as creating some cross sport connections.”

According to Tori, Liam and Luuka, it would seem objectives achieved.