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25 November, 2013

Former Jaguar Rising Star looks back on her first Commonwealth Games

One of the first group of Rising Stars selected for the Jaguar Academy of Sport is now passing on her advice to the next generation as an Alumni for the Academy and Mentor for Kelly Holmes Education. Sheree Cox shares her top tips and memories of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where she competed in Shooting.

As a Jaguar Academy Rising Star, I count myself very lucky to have been given the opportunities that came to me as part of the Mentoring and Education Programme delivered by Kelly Holmes Education. I have also been fortunate to work with my Mentor Anna Hemmings, as one of the Rising Stars that achieved the Special Recognition Award a few years ago.

It was a real honour to be named as an Alumnus for the Jaguar Academy earlier this year, the journey from being selected to join the Jaguar Academy has really helped my confidence as a person and sports performer. Being chosen as a Rising Star was a huge honour. When I attended the first event with my Mum, I just thought this is amazing! I was so proud to be part of something so prestigious.

I made some good friends and it is amazing to think someone like Jade Jones who joined the programme at the same time, is now an Olympic Champion! Through the mentoring support I received from Anna, we tried lots of new techniques to help me with my mental preparation; including breathing techniques and plans the night before a competition. All of them really worked and I have taken the ideas forward and tweaked them for my best preparation. Shooting is a mental sport and small changes have made all the difference.

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Looking ahead to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, I thought I would share some of my experiences to sporting performers perhaps pushing for selection to compete in Glasgow and beyond.

The Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games was my third experience of a multi-sport Games and my first as a Senior. The buzz of the Opening Ceremony was just fantastic! I was on such a massive high after the Ceremony which led to breakfast at 3am, it was so exciting. My advice to anyone is to take the opportunities you have in sport, they don’t come around too often and you never know what is around the corner, so you can’t take anything for granted.

For me, the Commonwealth Youth Games was the perfect stepping stone to the Commonwealths and probably my most successful Games as I took one Gold and a Bronze medal. Preparation is so important and it can be hard to replicate the pressure of competition on the world stage. You need to be aware of the steps and procedure before you compete, as far as possible. In my sport of shooting, relaxation is so crucial to achieving the best performance. I remember hearing the announcement – welcome to the 16th Commonwealth Games, it hit me and sent chills down my spine! That is tough to simulate but mental imagery has worked for me.

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With regards to preparation, I would say prepare for the best and worst that could happen with your support team. Think of all the scenarios and solutions to fix problems. If a scenario comes up that is not on your list, I would say most sports performers will freak out! I always write my plan for competition day and think about various factors that could change it.

As part of a big team, sharing a room is something that takes some getting used to. I would suggest really getting to know whoever you are sharing with, so you are aware of their routine, which can affect yours. Snacks and food that you are familiar with can make a big difference if you are competing abroad, so take some with you.

My aim in Glasgow is definitely to make the final after coming 7th in the Pairs in Delhi. I know Wales and Scotland will be very strong, as they have been training together for a while now and Scotland seem to have all the extra investment with added Sports Nutrition and Sports Science support leading up to the Games already. As Christmas is fast approaching, I can’t wait to compete at a home Games in Glasgow, fingers crossed it will be a great year, as I’m getting married too!

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