Talent Isn't Enough. Paralympic Champion Danny Crates On Achieving Success
One of the world’s most inspirational Paralympic athletes, Danny Crates explains why talent plus hard work equals success. There is a lot of luck in life, both good and bad, but there is no luck in taking opportunities when they come your way.
It's funny, but when I completed my apprenticeship at the age of 20 and then took the decision to go off to Australia for a year, becoming a Paralympian had never crossed my mind, probably because at that stage I still did not know what fate had in store for me.
So as you can imagine, waking up in hospital minus an arm came as a bit of a shock. Now I am not going to go into detail of how I came to terms with my accident at this stage - you need to book me for that. But over the 2-3 years post accident, I had to completely re-evaluate my life. The biggest conclusion I came to was: If you want to achieve, you cannot simply drift along, even if you have the talent. Talent does not equal success.
Talent plus hard work equals success.
At this early stage, becoming a Paralympian was still furthest from my mind. My first goal was to return to the rugby field before embarking on a career as a shark display diver. (Yes I really was a shark display diver - always a favourite part of my presentations!)
Finally, I returned to the track, and my 12-year journey began with my newfound mindset and my 5 key elements to success - a focal point of my presentations.
Except for once or twice a year at major championships, all my athletics were able-bodied, and, back in 1997, disability sport was still in its infancy in terms of public perception. I still remember turning up to a race meeting for Thurrock and coincidently lining up in the same race as another British arm amputee. The other 6 competitors must have been left wondering what was going on. I still get people come up to me now, proudly stating that they once raced against me. Of course, it never takes long for the question to come out, “Who won?”
Becoming a Paralympic Champion was once furthest from Danny's mind
As a person, I always portray a very positive outlook, but don’t be fooled. I, like everyone else, have my dark days. The way I keep strong is one of the aspects in my 5 key elements, but put simply it's about reminding myself of the reasons I started a journey. In 2008, I was injured for 5 months and then again at the 2008 Paralympic games which resulted in me withdrawing. That was probably the toughest period of my career, but I refer to it as, “just another one of life’s hurdles - it's how you overcome these hurdles that enable you to go on and achieve greater things.”
12 years of my life was dedicated to Paralympic athletics. From 2009, when I retired, until 2011, I always felt that something was missing. Then, in 2011, CH4 secured me to work as an athletics pundit. Since then, I have covered 2 world championships and 2 Paralympic games as well as other international competitions. This has given me a new career within my sporting field. As well as the work for CH4 I have worked on many programs for the BBC and hosted an array of corporate films. I even appeared on CelebrityMaster in 2015, making the quarterfinals (just don’t mention the sugar). This was a great experience because it reminded me of how I lived my life as an athlete. I was reminded of the importance of stepping outside of our comfort zone - because how do we ever know what we are capable of if we do not push ourselves?
Danny appeared on celebrity MasterChef in 2015
Shortly after retiring from athletics, I found that there was a sporting gap in my life. My first and, to me, the most important step was to return to the rugby field, and I still play today. Well, I say play. The other 14 players may have a different view as I must confess the speed has gone!I have completed two marathons, slowly and the iconic John O’Groats to Lands end bike ride, what next for me, well I continue to work as a motivational and inspirational speaker, a profession that has seen me speak all over the world, probably the most surreal being when I was asked to speak at the British Ambassadors cocktail reception in Dubai. I approach every presentation I deliver the same way I approached my races, to perform at the very best.
I have completed two marathons, slowly, and the iconic John O’Groats to Lands end bike ride.
What next for me? Well, I continue to work as a motivational and inspirational speaker - a profession that has seen me speak all over the world, probably the most surreal being when I was asked to speak at the British Ambassadors cocktail reception in Dubai. I approach every presentation I deliver the same way I approached my races, to perform at the very best.
One thing I am sure about is that there is a lot of luck in life, both good and bad, but there is no luck in taking opportunities when they come your way.
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