It’s easy to forget that the athletes we see on our TVs gunning for gold at the Olympics all started out as amateurs. They made their way to the top through sharpening their skills, pursuing a passion and demonstrating a discipline towards training that knows no bounds.
Through one of its categories the upcoming Birmingham, Coventry & Warwickshire Sports Awards will hone in on those currently competing at an amateur level giving them the chance to shine in the spotlight.
The Amateur Sportsman of the Year Award is one of 13 categories currently open for nominations and welcomes entries from any man aged 19 and above who is making a name for themselves at district, county, regional, national or international level.
As well as championing competitors at this level, the category is also a celebration of the diverse world of sport and is open to all disciplines from football, rugby and cricket to more niche pursuits such as rock climbing or even ultimate frisbee.
When nominations close on Friday 13 September, all applications will be passed over to an expert panel of judges whose task it is to choose just three finalists the winner of which will be announced during a special awards ceremony at the ICC on Thursday 24 October.
Here, the sports kits will be replaced with occasion wear and the training diet will be on temporary pause as hundreds turn out to enjoy an evening of much deserved celebration.
Among the sportspeople who will of course be out in full force for the night, guests will also come in the form of the sponsors who have generously lent their name to one of the categories. And it is Thomas International who has proudly extended their support to the West Midlands’ community of amateur sportsmen.
Thomas International has been working together with businesses since 1981 to help them recruit, retain and develop the right people through its psychometric assessments. They take an interactive approach to their people assessment training by encouraging teamwork, self-reflection and personal development.
And nobody is better to comment on the skills it takes to succeed in sport than Group Performance Director and former Olympic athlete, Derek Redmond.
“A core skill to succeed in sport lies in self-awareness,” he said.
“Athletes come in all shapes and sizes, but each one is wired in a different way. Despite an athlete's composition, having the drive and desire to do your best with an understanding of your own emotions and behaviours is a vital step in enhancing performance.
“The more you know about yourself, the more chance you have of making improvements to your game, building relationships and breeding motivation.”
The former World, European and Commonwealth champion went on to explain the reasoning behind Thomas International’s support of the Amateur Sportsman of the Year award.
“The cornerstone of any successful sports person or team is the ability to understand themselves, their behavioural preferences, how they communicate and how they are motivated,” he said.
“An important piece of the work Thomas does is to utilise the power of psychology in sport to empower athletes, teams and coaches, so it seems only fitting that we would sponsor the category that celebrates high performing sportspeople.”
In 1992 Derek displayed the ultimate act of Olympic spirit when he completed a lap at the Barcelona 400 metre semi-final with a torn hamstring. On the world stage he demonstrated true grit, passion and dedication – something he hopes will also be on show during the awards evening.
“Here at Thomas, our expertise lies in identifying and developing high potential top talent,” he added.
“We are looking for sportspeople who can demonstrate a real dedication to their sport and are committed to consistently being at the top of their game.”