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What makes an athlete?

16 July 2021
shutterstock gold medal

Lillian Mckeague, Senior Marketing Executive 

As we make our way through July and the peak of summer hits, it’s clear to see that sport has filled the air recently. Rugby Union summer internationals are in full swing, whilst the British and Irish Lions tour South Africa. Wimbledon returned and, of course, England made it to the Euro’s football final. With sport at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we spoke to LGT Vestra’s very own ‘sporting legends’, to share their personal stories and find out what motivates them.

Matthew Windows, Wealth Manager and former English cricketer, played as a batsman for Gloucestershire in his 15-year sporting career. Starting young, Matthew attended Durham university to pursue cricket alongside his studies. He then went on to score over 9,000 runs, including 16 centuries, and was selected for the England A tour to South Africa and Zimbabwe, one of many unforgettable achievements.  Matthew’s sporting career enabled him to build a “transferable skillset, allowing me to progress successfully from sport into a working environment, having met people from all walks of life across the globe”. Matthew added that hard-work, dedication and an ability to accept knockbacks have been crucial: “there will always be hurdles to overcome, whether that be loss of form, injury or business related – it’s an uneven path to the top .”

Former Great Britain Skeleton athlete and Business Development Director, Eleanor Leonard-Walters, understands this more than most. Dedicated to sports from an early age, Eleanor swam competitively before sailing Hobie Cats for Great Britain with her brother. Whilst at university, Eleanor was introduced to Skeleton and was selected for the finals in Norway in 2014.  Eleanor says, “Making the British team was probably one of my greatest achievements – I don’t think any of my friends or family believed it would be possible. I think they all thought I was mad! Winning three gold medals, one track record, and achieving third overall on the Europa Cup circuit in my last season was special. Hearing the national anthem whilst stood on the podium is a very emotional experience, one I don’t think I’ll ever forget.” Eleanor still holds the track record in Norway.

Approaching his ten-year anniversary at LGT Vestra, Andrew Newman, Business Development Director, also has a triumphant history in sport, having played rugby professionally. Although originally a football enthusiast, his father saw his potential early on and took him to a local club to pursue his gift. Despite not taking to the sport at first, Andrew shared that his father motivated him to “never give up, and for that I am forever grateful.” He went on to play for the Northampton Saints where he won the European cup aged 22, counting many more wins in the years that followed. Through rugby, Andrew learned that teamwork, having faith in others, persistence and a desire to succeed are crucial not only in sport, but in life thereafter. He adds, “Don’t be too hard on yourself when things aren’t going well – always push yourself.”

Life after sport

Andrew came to London to play one final year of semi-professional rugby with London Scottish before joining LGT Vestra. He says, “Not many other things are like rugby, you can carry on being a boy until later in life, but still learn the importance of taking risks and applying yourself to opportunities.”

Unfortunately, Eleanor had to retire due to injury: “Sport is something that, at the time, fully engulfs you into a ‘sporting bubble’. When you’re in that bubble and your sporting career comes to an end, whether you are prepared for it or not, you are thrown into the deep end and suddenly forget how to swim.” After two years at LGT Vestra, Eleanor has realised that sport gave her the ability to overcome challenges, to adapt to change and, her favourite part, to build relationships. “Having been through a lot in my sporting career, I have also become much more resilient as a person and have a drive that I believe really helps me progress my career.”

Resilience is key

Clearly, these passionate individuals are adaptive to change and constantly focused on ways to improve.  Eleanor says, “There are a lot of setbacks in all careers, but it is the ability to adapt and overcome that sets a good athlete apart from a great athlete.” Matthew agrees, “Resilience is a key component in sport and in life.”

At LGT Vestra, we champion ambition and resilience, and we celebrate our successes as individuals and collectively.  In talking to our sporting legends, consistent themes emerged - of resilience, determination and collaboration. We are proud that these qualities are so evident in our firm’s culture.

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