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Featured Publisher: John Blake
Apart form its current publications, John Blake Publishing has a sizeable back list of acclaimed sporting titles. These include biographies of stars such as Roger Federer, WG Grace, Fernando Torres and Frankie Dettori. For more information, visit www.blake.co.uk



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The Talent Lab The secrets of creating and sustaining success By Owen Slot

Release date: 27th April, 2017
Publisher: Ebury Press

List Price: £20.00
Our Price: £14.88
You Save: £5.12 (25%)
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“Normal people do not win one gold medal, let alone a gold medal plus at least one more. Thus, it seems unlikely that super-elite athletes would have normal personalities, normal interpersonal relationships, or fit comfortably into a normal sporting system. Rather, one would expect them to have some idiosyncrasies that make them exceptional.”

The words are taken from a three-and-a-half year study conducted by Bangor University into athletes who had won more than 100 medals at Olympic and World Championship level. More than 1,400 hours of interviews were conducted with these successful athletes to create The Great British Medallists (BGM) study which would form the basis for identifying would-be Olympians. It is one of a number of fascinating asides provided by Owen Slot in The Talent Lab, a book he claims has been in the making since the Atlanta Olympics of 1996 when Britain won just one gold medal.

The turnaround in Great Britain’s Olympic fortunes has been nothing short of dramatic. From a miserable return on investment 21 years ago, in 2012, Team GB were third in the medal table; at last year’s Rio Olympics, they took second place. Yet, as Slot shows, it wasn’t as though sport was starved of cash between 1996-2012.

For instance, during the run-up to the three Olympic Games preceding 2012, a total of £52 million was spent on 282 members of the GB swimming team, yet only one of them, Rebecca Adlington (in 2008), delivered a gold medal – which she did twice.

The BGM suggested that the money needed to be targeted with even greater accuracy, but how? The report answered the question by identifying 16 super-elite athletes, every one of whom experienced a ‘significant negative critical event’ during their early years. This included the death of a parent, another parent who attempted suicide, bullying at school and a host of other motives that would become part of the force driving the child on to sporting success.

It all sounds a little like The Boys from Brazil, but rather than use the athletes’ negative experiences for sinister purposes, Team GB instead harnessed indigenous talent to great effect. Whether than means we’ll top the medal table in 2020 is another matter, although after reading this superb book, you’ll believe sports scientists could give Team GB a chance of doing so.


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