Back to articles

Team GB’s Adam Gemili and jockey James Doyle give insight into mental health in sport

27 Sep 2019

Both athletes shared their stories of the mental side of being a top athlete, including handling with online abuse

Team GB athlete Adam Gemili and top jockey James Doyle opened up to each other on their approaches to dealing with mental health and social media abuse ahead of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Qatar commencing this week and QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 19th October.

With Adam beginning his World Championships campaign in Doha this Friday, the pair discussed at length the mental resilience required to reach the top of their respective sports in The Champion Mindset video.

The athletes drew comparisons about how they remain level-headed in both victory and defeat, while using negative comments received online to fuel their performance when competing.

Gemili, 25, was part of the Team GB 4x100m men’s relay squad which won gold at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London in 2017, and the team will defend their crown in this year’s Championships, which begin in Doha, Qatar on Friday.

After speaking at length with Doyle, one of the fastest men in the UK – he won the 200m at the British Championships in Birmingham last month in a championship and stadium record of 20.08secs – was impressed with the mental fortitude that jockeys show day-in, day-out during competition.

“Sport is all mental. Physically the body will do what the mind tells it to – if mentally you’re strong the body will follow. That’s what I took away from this video that jockeys like James are so mentally strong, tough and capable,” he said.

“Jockeys have got a lot of things nailed down. They race so much, they go from one race to another and another. Mentally they have to stay strong and prepared to give their best performance; even when they have a bad race they might have a race an hour later to make up for it.

“Mental strength will separate you from being ‘good’ to being ‘the best’ in your field.  Sometimes you need the bad times, to reflect on that and build up to the good times.”

One of the UK’s leading and most-talented flat jockeys, Doyle has an impressive 33 career Group 1 wins, including three victories in this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series, which culminates in QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 19th October.

He said: “If you look at the best jockeys, when it goes wrong for them in a race, they completely blank it out of their mind, forget it’s even happened and move on.

“I use social media abuse as a motivational tool. It’s something that might get some of the jockeys in the weighing room down, but I try to prove those people wrong.

“That’s where we’re lucky, in the sense that we have six, seven maybe eight rides a day. If one goes wrong, you’ll have these trolls on Twitter hammering you but then you might win the next race on a horse that wasn’t expected to win.

“It’s one thing that helps us mentally – we always have an opportunity to bounce straight back with a win after defeat.”