Amy Williams MBE

Amy Williams MBE

Bob Skeleton Champion

Synopsis

Travelling at 90mph on a sled called Arthur, Amy became the first British individual female gold medalist at the Winter Olympics for 58 years. She achieved the remarkable feat in spite of the fact that the UK does not have an ice track. Instead Amy trained on a dry-push facility with a bespoke device known as The Assassin. She explains the lessons in viewing problems differently, focusing on the things you can control, and how team effort is vital even in a solo discipline.

Biography

Amy Williams claimed Team GB’s sole victory at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and put the skeleton bobsleigh event firmly on the map. She became our first solo Winter Olympic gold medallist for 30 years and set the stage for later successes.

Having started her sporting career as a runner, her desire to achieve on the world stage led her to the often-overlooked winter sports. She focus on the skeleton bobsleigh, a ferociously fast event frequently likened to sliding on ice at 100mph on a metal tea tray. However, with few winter sports facilities and no ice track in the country, Amy was forced to train on a dry-push facility with a bespoke sled. She had to help build and maintain her own equipment, testing the sled and spending hours in a wind tunnel in order to perfect her form. Through trial-and-error, she eventually learned all aspects of the sport in a way few competitors from more traditional winter sports countries do.

Having learned technicalities like the effect of air temperatures and the intricate mechanics of steering, Amy also took on the psychological and physical challenges. As well as the pressure of competing against better funded, more experienced sportspeople, she raced on the same track that had killed a competitor only the day before. Such experiences both gave her a competitive edge but also made her achievements in Vancouver all the more impressive. She reached 90mph and set two track records, finishing more than half a second ahead of her closest competitor.

Amy discusses her achievements and explains that success is down to meticulous team efforts, even in a solo discipline. She offers advice for those who need to prepare mentally and physically for high-pressure situations, and talks about resilience, achievement, preparation and innovation. There are surprising benefits to adversity and uncertainty in sport, which Amy relates to any organisation. She asks what companies can do to develop the skills competitors are lacking, as she did in Vancouver where she had honed the ability to learn a track much quicker than the other nations and so had more time to fine tune the run. She considers the value of looking at problems with new perspectives and highlights the importance of focusing on the things you can change and control, rather than the things you can’t.

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