Swifter, Higher, Stronger

Blake Skjellerup has a winning mindset.  He is one of only two New Zealand speed skaters competing at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Blake started skating at the age of 10 when a broken arm sidelined him from rugby for several months and he found himself killing time at the skating rink. He began skating twice a week, and first represented New Zealand in 1997, at the tender age of 12. In 2002 he went to his first Junior World Championships where he finished 56th (second last) and through determination and hard work clawed his way up to 21st the following year.  He came 10th in the 1000m Junior Worlds in 2004, 10th in the 1000m World Cup in 2008, and holds the titles of NZ Speed Skater of the Year and NZ Junior Maori Sportsman of the Year.

His incredible journey so far, at 24, displays three hallmark characteristcs of all successful people.

  • Master the details – anyone can learn how to skate.  What separates winners from losers is their ability to master the minute details. Those details that come from intense training and practice over a long period of time. The NZ Winter Olympians each spend an average of 1629 hours training each year – that’s over 40 weeks a year.
  • Find good mentors – Blake has had six coaches in his 14 year skating career and all have provided expert advice, encouragement and support to help develop him into the athlete he is today.
  • Focus – to get to the Olympics requires absolute focus, and sacrifice. To see your dreams come true you’ve got to give it everything you’ve got. Injuries and lack of financial support hasn’t put Blake off his goals. It’s made him more determined to succeed.
  • On 21st February Blake competed in the quarter finals of the 1000m short track speed skating race at the Olympics. “I got stuck at the back and there wasn’t much I could do,” he said. “It was a very fast race from the start with Sung Si-Bak and JR Celski in particular. I had decided that if I didn’t get up front at the start I was going to look to make the race in the tussling in the final laps but that didn’t happen.” Blake is looking forward to Sochi 2014 and hopes the support from New Zealand he’s received over the past year will continue. “It has been a great step,” he says of the support. “If we can continue (across all sports) New Zealand will have a great games in Russia.”

    Blake’s winning mindset also views failure as an opportunity to improve. How does your mindset stack up?