Dr Steve Peters, psychologist behind GB's Olympic cycling success, switches track to join UK Athletics

Man who has been instrumental to rise of GB cycling looks to repeat the feat in track and field

by Simon_MacMichael   October 22, 2012  

Team GB Women's Team Pursuit London 2012 (copyright britishcycling.org.uk)

Dr Steve Peters, the sports psychologist behind Great Britain’s stunning Olympic cycling success is switching track from the velodrome to the athletics stadium after being hired by UK Athletics. 

Team GB’s track and field athletes won six medals at London 2012 – four of those gold – against a pre-Games target of between five and eight medals set by UK Sport.

Failure to hit the upper end of that target was one of the reasons behind the departure of UK Athletics performance director Charles van Commenee, with Peters hired by his successor, Neil Black.

“We are delighted to welcome Steve to the team, he is undoubtedly one of the world’s best sports psychiatrists,” said Black.

“He will add significant value and we must harness his expertise as we move forward and build towards greater success in the coming Olympic cycle.”

Peters himself is no stranger to the athletics track – he’s a past Masters World Record Holder at 200 metres – and commenting on his appointment he said: "I'm very excited to be joining the British athletics team and I am looking forward to working with the coaches and athletes on the road to Rio.

"It's a fantastic time to be involved in athletics and Neil Black is a great appointment as performance director.

"I will work hard to support him as he strives to maximise the team's performance over the next four years."

Peters joined British Cycling in 2001, and is also team psychologist and head of medicine at Team Sky. He will continue to work for both on a consultancy basis.

While riders such as Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Bradley WIggins have credited him with playing a vital role in their success, away from the athletes he works with he is perhaps best known for his identification of 'chimps' and 'gremlins' as parts of a sportperson's psyche that need to be controlled if they are to perform to their full potential.

"There are two aspects of your brain that work independently of each other," he has said. "One is quite emotional and irrational; the other is logical, capable of making good judgments. I call the emotional part 'the chimp'. I teach the riders techniques to manage or pre-empt what the chimp is going to do so you can stop the strike.

"As for the gremlin, that is a negative belief or behaviour which has the potential to inhibit performance. I also challenge the gremlin and remove it."

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Daley Thompson won't be happy. Wink

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
23rd October 2012 - 10:57

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