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Project pairs Olympians with young athletes

Copyrights: The True Athlete Project

Project pairs Olympians with young athletes

The True Athlete Project is giving seven lucky athletes the opportunity to be mentored by an Olympic champion for one year.

The project, which “develops the whole person through sport”, provides young athletes with a personalised mental skills curriculum developed by their world-class team, including the head of performance at the Danish Fencing Federation, Laurence Halsted, and the director of sport psychology at the University of Arkansas, Dr Mike Jonson.

The holistic curriculum has five key areas, designed to improve athletic performance, nurture good mental health, and cultivate a healthier sports culture:

  • Performance
  • Identity and values
  • Mindfulness
  • Nature and connectedness
  • Community responsibility

Athletes also receive a six-week Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement course, delivered online, by its creator, Dr Keith Kaufman. This is the world’s first manualised mindfulness for sport programme, and pilot studies have shown enhanced well-being and “flow” – or being “in the zone” - which is considered the holy grail for athletes.

Athletes must be aged 14 to 24, and can play any sport.

The founder of the Chattanooga-based non-profit, Sam Parfitt, says “Not only is this a truly innovative programme for athletes serious about their athletic performance, it also provides them with an amazing network and is a superb resume-builder. Above all, though, athletes need to know they have a team who has their back, and our world-class team provides just that, offering high quality mental and emotional support which can otherwise be very costly.”

The programme director is Pam Boteler, a 32-time national canoe champion and the first woman to defeat men in the U.S canoeing nationals. She works in leadership development at the department for defence, and says, “It’s exciting, and personally very rewarding, observing the immediate, positive impact on the lives of athletes we have the privilege to serve.”

The programme’s first relationship paired a young, blind, British sprinter with the world’s fastest blind sprinter and Rio gold medallist, David Brown.

The programme costs $450 per year, but scholarships are available. In addition, the team is seeking individuals and organisations to sponsor a young athlete onto the programme with a scholarship in their name.

  • For more information, contact Sam Parfitt at


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Wednesday, July 5, 2017 - 14:47