Turning silver into gold

Feeling the pressure to win back-to-back gold at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, I went to Malcolm Blight, former coach of the Adelaide Crows, who gave one of the best pieces of advice given to me as an athlete.

“Just go out there. Forget the scoreboard and forget the results. Know exactly what you want to achieve. You have to know exactly what your goal is. Don’t spend time thinking whether I am going to win gold.”

I won the silver medal in 2000. But I know it was the right advice. I just hadn’t lived it properly. I didn’t have the right “process”. To get back on track for the next games, I followed these four steps – which every company and team member can do – to turn a silver performance into gold.


Looking back at my preparations for my second Paralympic Games, I did not have enough time to get my process right. On top of my 20-hour-a-week training, I was studying for my final year of physiotherapy full time; I was working part-time and running a home simultaneously.


I had a serious look at all my activities and I realised some things can wait. This allowed me to have the time to perform the extra tasks to get back my A-game.


This was difficult for me and it still is. But short of spreading myself too thin, I did two things to help with this step: I got a manager to say ‘no’ for me and when I said “no”, I began to celebrate it as it means more time to work on my goal.


Even though I compete in an individual sport – athletics – I knew I could not achieve a gold medal performance without a team of experts around me. People who were positive, encouraging, motivating and honest, and who were interested in helping me reach my goal.

When the 2004 Paralympics Games opened in Athens, I was mentally and physically fit. I was in the best shape. I knew my process worked and there was nothing else I could have done in my preparation. All I had to do was follow my race plan.

After eight long years, I won a gold medal again.

Now during leadership programmes, I give companies the same four steps towards achieving top-level performance.

These same principles can be applied towards organising gold medal events. These are the things meeting planners need to get in place to make sure their event is the best that it can be: you need to have the goal, you need to have the process and you need to stick to it.

An important part of the process is getting the right people into your team who have the skills you don’t have. Be prepared to spend money and get good professional help to make sure your event has the gold standard.

Katrina Webb is a veteran of three Paralympic Games, winning gold, silver and bronze medals in Atlanta in 1996, in Sydney in 2000 and in Athens in 2004. Webb uses her unique story dealing with cerebral palsy to inspire companies on how to improve the performance of their teams through keynote speeches, team-building events as well as corporate health and well-being programmes. She can be reached at www.katrinawebb.com.au



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