Nothing inspires others like a true success story…



Expertise, mentality, resilience; three factors that shaped Sally’s career. With them she hit some incredible highs and recovered from some devastating lows. There are many similarities between high performance in the worlds of sport, business and life. Topics Sally addresses in very keynotes include:

  • Change Management
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • The space between talent and performance – Mental attitude
  • Need to achieve Vs Fear of failure
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Synergy – surrounding yourself with talent
  • Importance of wellbeing

All of Sally’s keynotes are bespoke to your event. Below is a brief outline of what you can expect from Sally’s keynotes:

Inspiration & Motivation

In this keynote I will tell my story as a professional athlete, and how I realised that the skills that helped me become an Olympic champion are just as relevant in helping me succeed as a businesswoman and also supporting me on my personal journey. For example at my first public speaking engagement I was absolutely petrified, but I quickly understood that as an athlete I was a performer and therefore standing on stage was actually not that different from standing in the starting blocks.

I will explore the fundamental traits of winning, particularly focusing on mental attitude and goal setting. Learning how to emotionally perform at a high level does not come overnight, but by sharing my own experiences the audience will be able to translate them into their own lives.

Once goals have been reached it’s important to understand how to sustain this high level and to cope with setbacks and disappointment. This all requires resilience and a positive mindset and that in itself is a great challenge. I will talk about how I coped after my Olympic gold and what I learnt about performing under pressure.

Teamwork isn’t always associated with an individual sport, however my keynote will examine the importance of team work. I don’t believe it’s possible to achieve your goals without the support of others. A poignant moment in my journey to ‘Gold’ was putting a team around me who supported and prepared me for the moment when it was just me. The audience will see that the same can be applied to their own life and that we don’t have to do things by ourselves.

Finally I will discuss the importance of visualisation. This skill can be easily learnt and is often the last and most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to reaching our goals.

I love the synergy between sport and business. The five big lessons that I learnt from running I use in my everyday life, both at work and at home and I hope that the audience will be able to take these lessons and transfer them to their own situations. Like the audience I am simply trying to be ‘the best I can be’ in my business, at supporting my family and staying healthy.

Health & Wellbeing

In this keynote I will explore what I have learnt about nutrition, goal setting and building resilience during my time as a professional athlete and how I continue to use this knowledge in both my personal life and in my new career.

As a successful athlete I was under a huge pressure to stay on top. I will explain to the audience how I managed to deal with this pressure and how maintaining my wellbeing was such a huge part of that.

Finding a good balance between work and home can be tricky in these busy times, but it really is one of the most important things when trying to achieve wellbeing. I will discuss how putting simple boundaries in place can help you focus on different areas of your life separately, which will in turn increase productivity and reduce stress.

As a former athlete my body is used to doing a lot of exercise, but even I notice a difference in my wellbeing if I let my exercise routine slip. I will look at why it’s such an important part of overall wellbeing and discuss how to fit exercise in to our busy schedules. As well as exercise I will discuss the importance of eating well and sleeping. I will talk about my 80/20 rule for eating and share my tips for a good night’s sleep.

Finally, I will explain how if the audience can get all of these factors in place they will find their mental resilience improves, which enables you to handle the stress and demands that come with day to day life and stops your physical and mental health spiralling when challenges occur. Resilience is easily built if you follow a few simple rules which I will share.

I know that if all the key areas in my life, sleep/exercise/nutrition/mental resilience are in the right place I can get over any hurdles. I look at my life like a wheel, if one of these things is out of place then the wheel cannot turn smoothly. They are all vital to keep me going.

During this keynote I will also encourage the audience to look at their own lives and by using simple questions and exercises try and work out where the balance is off. Having done this they will be able to identify what changes they need to make to find wellbeing both at work and at home. The audience will leave the event with not only practical tips for increased wellbeing but with inspiration and motivation to put these tips in to practice.

Resilience & Sustaining Performance

Sustaining high performance and resilience is a popular topic. One that I am very passionate about and also often asked about. In today’s fast moving world, just when you think you have achieved what is required of you, someone moves the goal posts and you have to find a little bit more. More often than not this is a recurring theme in life.

In this keynote I focus on what it took for me to stay at the top of my game, and how I utilise those skills now, in business and day to day. Having achieved my dream of standing on the podium at an Olympic games winning gold, I asked myself ‘What’s next?’ I loved that sense of achievement so I decided to see if I could secure further major championship titles. I soon came to realise that in order to do that it took a slightly different skill set. I still had to maintain the basics but now there was a stronger focus on my mental strength, managing expectations, and a greater understanding of how to take care of myself to avoid injuries and setbacks.

Resilience was the key to my further success and I believe that resilience is something that everyone should have, and can have. It enables you to deal with life when things don’t go to plan, when you hit those bumps in the road. When I talk about the lessons I learnt in high performance sport the audience will be able to evaluate where their resilience levels are and how to improve them.

There are four key areas that are pivotal in achieving and sustaining a performance and a healthy level of resilience. I will look at each of these areas providing understand on how to improve and maintain them. With simple tips and tricks to take away from my keynote the audience will understand that building up your resilience won’t stop problems occurring but will certainly make it easier to cope when they do.

When I look back on my career I consider myself very lucky to have been able to achieve the goals I set myself, however I do appreciate that my story would have been very different had I not realised the importance of maintaining a high level of resilience. In the present I regard myself to be in a fortunate position that I can pass on those valuable skills and experience to my audience.

Reference: Sally Gunnell is the only female athlete to have held the Olympic, World, Commonwealth & European titles concurrently, and break a world record. (The world record has since been broken again).

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