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For Parents

A Q&A With Dame Sarah Storey

Britain’s most successful Paralympian and Fennies partner, Dame Sarah Storey, answers questions about everything from parenting to her career and keeping children active.  

Sarah Storey showing gold medal to child at fennies nursery

Throughout the last year, we’ve partnered with Dame Sarah Storey on a variety of exciting events, including a sports day. We decided to sit down and speak to Sarah about how she navigates her successful sports career as well as being a mum of two. 

Do you think it’s important for children to get into a sport from an early age and why?

Children are made to move, so they naturally want to be on the go. Sporting activities provide a semi-structured way to introduce them to the different ways they can move their body and will help them master new skills. The best way to introduce children to sport is to give them the age-appropriate tools and let them experiment, then ask if they’d like to see how you might play with the equipment. If it’s a ball, then they’ll naturally want to throw it, and you can help them learn to catch it. Whatever the activity, it’s vital the time is curated around play and fun. Children don’t need instruction at first, they just need the time and space to experiment, and they will ask for instruction when they are ready. 

How do you encourage an active lifestyle in your children and lay the groundwork for future healthy habits?

Fennies pe coach playing football with child

Children model the behaviour they witness, so doing activities together as a family is the best way to support their life-long love of the outdoors and develop healthy habits. Making it the normal choice, so that it’s not a chore, is also a good tip. Children that witness parents complaining about having to exercise or creating a transaction between only exercising for weight loss, will be less likely to have healthy habits of their own. 

What sports were you interested in as a child?

All sports! I literally did everything I could and never said no to an opportunity to try something new. 

You changed sports from swimming to cycling. How did you find the confidence to do this, and did you have to overcome any obstacles in the process?

Doing so many different activities as a child was the basis for me having the confidence to try a new sport as an adult. We know the experiences of our children in their first 3 years of life really set them up for the rest of their life, and I was always outdoors and experimenting with different activities, so it didn’t seem strange to me that I would try something new as I got older. 

As a Paralympian, you, of course, have to have excellent mental resilience. How do you achieve this in both your sport and daily life?

Seeing obstacles as an opportunity to learn, grow and find solutions is something that sport teaches you that resonates well in daytoday life. I’ve always been a very solutions driven person and enjoy the challenge of piecing together a performance or reaching a goal.  

Dame Sarah Storey talking at Fennies nursery event

I think this also comes out in everything I do. Whether that’s supporting my own children, providing opportunities for the athletes I coach or mentor, or working with clients to get the best out of their own staff. I enjoy breaking down a challenge and finding the process driven approach that will result in success.

What’s been your most memorable moment in your career?

Probably winning gold in front of the home crowd at the London 2012 Games. I was the team’s most successful athlete at the Games with 4 gold and a world record. I will never forget singing the national anthem with 10,000 people singing too! 

As an incredibly busy mum, how do you navigate making sure your children are active and eating balanced meals?

I work as a team with my husband, Barney. He does all the cooking and has done since our first child was born in 2013. As a fellow athlete, he is very careful about diet too. We are also both very realistic about the changing palette of young children and plan meals in collaboration with the children. We have always been very careful never to use food from an emotional perspective, and there are no clean plate awards in our house as we want the children to understand the importance of eating to their appetite. We talk about what makes us healthy and eat with the children every day too, it’s a very good time to reconnect after a busy day. 

What made you choose to partner with Fennies?

Sarah Storey showing gold medal to child at fennies nursery

Since having Louisa, I have been very aware of how challenging life can be for young families and how difficult it can be for those parents who don’t have a support network on hand. Fennies have an innovative approach, not just for caring and nurturing the children who attend their settings, but for also being that extra pair of hands for families when they need them. From Fennies Fresh, a meal service for parents to collect when they collect their child, to supporting outdoor learning with some inspired and tranquil spaces, the holistic approach of Fennies is great to see and work to support.

What exciting projects are you currently working on?

I’m working with my cycling team to try and regrow after the pandemic. We lost significant sponsorship during the pandemic when companies were struggling to balance things in the lockdown, so we are now back in the position of reconnecting with new leads and trying to grow again. We work with 12 female riders who have the potential to make it at the international level, and it’s exciting to be able to put back into the sport after having been an international athlete for so long myself. 

Olivia Jones

Olivia Jones

Content Writer

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