'You're always moving your goalposts' - Olympic champion Amy Williams on juggling motherhood and post-skeleton career
Amy Williams, who won a historic skeleton gold for Great Britain at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, is the latest guest on Eurosport's 'The Breakdown' podcast with Orla Chennaoui and Greg Rutherford. Williams, who also won World Championship silver in 2009, discusses life on the track and beyond as she juggles the demands of motherhood and a busy post-retirement career.
The Breakdown episode 7: Team GB legend Amy Williams
Olympic skeleton gold medallist Amy Williams has opened up about learning to "control the controllables" in both her career in sport and then as a mum, author, business owner and TV presenter after her retirement from the sport.
Team GB legend Williams was the latest guest on Eurosport’s The Breakdown podcast with Orla Chennaoui and Greg Rutherford, and explained the demands involved in maintaining a busy lifestyle since hanging up her sled.
Having won gold in spectacular fashion in Vancouver in 2010 following silver at the World Championships in Lake Placid the previous year, Williams called time on racing in 2012 and has since forged a successful career as a media personality, released a book ‘Talent to Triumph’, and has her own Personal Training business, as well as being a Team GB ambassador.
The 39-year-old, who also received an MBE following her Olympic heroics, married soldier Craig Ham in 2015 and the pair have two young boys.
Williams spoke candidly about the challenges of balancing a busy life of motherhood and her career.
“I'm trying to juggle motherhood and sort of almost being that full-time mum because of my husband's work hours,” she revealed. “I'm trying to juggle my PT business. I'm trying to juggle you know, daily life admin of being a mum of a family, I'm trying to juggle all other admin that comes in from being an ex-athlete, podcasts, to interviews, to setting up other work, TV work. I've had my book that I've done recently, so that was a lot of admin.
“So you must feel like you've got all these different things that you need to do, and there's never enough time to do it all.”
The bubbly, energetic Williams, who wears a beaming, near ever-present and infectious smile, admitted that she does sometimes suffer from stress and anxiety with so much on her plate but says she has started to openly acknowledge her issues as well as taking steps to overcome them.
“As an athlete, I don't think I did [get stressed],” she added. “Because you were so in this different mindset. Where I think now, as what I think is just a crazy working mum who's a scatterbrain, I do feel like I get a bit stressed and anxious.
“I am more aware that I get more snappy. I definitely feel like I'm a bit more snappier with the boys, I'm probably a bit more harsher with Craig, my husband, and I reckon that's because I'm feeling stressed and anxious and worried. And I'm not prepared, and that's when I realise 'OK, take a deep breath, lower my expectations, 100%, you're just expecting too much from yourself'.
“I wake up and my shoulders are up here, and I'm clenching my jaw. And I'm like 'OK deep breaths, take three big deep breaths and just lower everything down and not worry about things so much'.”
Amy Williams of Great Britain poses for a photo with her Gold Medal after winning the Women's Skeleton event on 19th February, on day 10 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics on February 21, 2010 in Whistler, Canada. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty
Image credit: Getty Images
'I've nailed it, I know my formula, I know what works for me.'
At the winter games in 2010, Williams wrote her name in history as she became Britain’s first solo gold medallist in any event for 30 years - and first woman for 58 years - when she triumphed in the skeleton.
The now ex-athlete accepts that sometimes the concerns about always striving to be better might have clouded her own appreciation of her incredible achievement - similar to her subsequent life off the track where she continues to push herself to do so much.
“The sports psychologist I worked with just before the Olympics, was like ‘Amy, you're always moving your goalposts. Your aim for this race was to come third, you've come second and you're still not happy. Because you're telling me you could have done X Y Z. You should pat yourself on the back because you got the result you wanted'.
'Always looking to achieve more' - Amy Williams opens up about trying to recognise happiness
“And I think we're very programmed into never taking a breath saying ‘I did everything that I wanted to do today or whatever, pat myself on the back and be happy’.
“Because no, you're always looking to achieve more. ‘Yeah, rubbish. I didn't do a post’ or, ‘Yes, I still haven't done that'. And I think maybe that's a British thing. Maybe it's a mum thing. Maybe it's a little bit of everything that you're always trying to push yourself and strive for more and more and more, instead of just being happy.
“The fact that you've got through the day, you ticked off everything in your diary to whatever level and now be happy for it.”
Olympic Skeleton Gold medalist Amy Williams poses with her medal at theTeam GB Welcome Home Press Conference at Heathrow Airport on March 2, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
The inspirational Williams also discussed how she came to terms with walking away from the sport and following her instincts despite the belief she could still yet accomplish more.
She explains learning to appreciate her success and recognising the various factors that would allow her to move on to what has been a varied and busy career away from competing.
“I think, half of me was like, ‘OK, I've done it. That was what I knew I could do. And I did it when it mattered. And you know, I ticked all my boxes, great'. And then you're like, ‘Well, actually, I still know now I could be a better athlete. I've nailed it, I know my formula, I know what works for me. Everything was working towards that one moment, these two days of racing in that four-year period. And I did it. Great. Now I can keep going'.
'Stop thinking about them!' - Amy Williams on changing room tactics to maintain focus
“And then I took a bit of time out, I did keep competing. And you know, politics, this and that equipment, technology, coaching, everything did fall apart. And I guess for me, it was like, ‘Actually, I don't need to do this anymore'.
“And my body was falling apart. I was in pain every day. And I just sort of re-assessed because I know I can shut the chapter on this and go to the next chapter. Even though half of me truly believed I could go to the next Olympics and win a medal. I truly believed that.
“But everything wasn't working anymore for numerous reasons. And so yeah, I decided 'OK, I can walk away and switch to the next thing'.”