Sport and Social Media

Carl Fogarty combines mental strength and athlete popularity to win I'm a Celebrity 2014

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Carl Fogarty, a four-time Superbike World Champion, has won I’m a Celebrity 2014 - and it should come as no surprise to anyone.

Sportsmen and women are competitive people by nature, and whether it’s racing around at 200mph or eating bizarre foods in the jungle, they will always look to beat the competition. It’s the same story in Celebrity Strictly Come Dancing, Celebrity Masterchef and any other show you can think of.

Will to win

‘Foggy’ is a fine example of an athlete who pushed himself to the limit on his bike, retiring in 2000 with a severe shoulder injury. 14-years later, he employed a personal trainer months in advance of the TV show to make sure he was up to strength for the challenges that lay ahead of him.

A quick glance back through previous winners shows that athletes are regulars in the final places on the 'get me out of here' TV series. Phil Tufnell beat John Fashanu to the ‘crown’ in 2003, whilst Martina Navratilova, Jimmy White, Fatima Whitbread and David Haye have also finished in the top three.

The popularity of the sports star can also not be under-estimated, although it seems they need a little more than just their past exploits to go beyond the first stages of a reality competition.

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Jimmy Bullard was perhaps a shock victim in the jungle this year, but the likes of Steve Davis and Linford Christie have also failed to gain support in the past. Are either of these figures less popular than Fogarty?

Judging the mood of the nation and popularity of individuals is another debate for another day, but the psychology and mind-set of an athlete is something very much in the spotlight in the world of sport right now.

Psychological successes

Ronnie O'Sullivan, arguably the greatest snooker player of time, turned to Dr Steve Peters in an effort to manage his demons, and the results have been staggering with another title now in the bag after this weekend's victory over Judd Trump in the UK Championship final.

The acclaimed sports psychiatrist has also worked with Sir Dave Brailsford's all-conquering Team GB cycling squad, the slightly less successful Liverpool football squad and the England national team.

Steve Black is another name regularly mentioned in sporting circles relating to psychology, although his own website describes him as a motivational speaker and mentor. Either way, he helped Jonny Wilkinson become a goal-kicking metronome, got Danny Cipriani back in the England fold and relaxed the mind of Joey Barton.

Innate ability

Despite this list of illustrious teams and individuals, the vast majority don't employ the help of a sports psychologist, instead calling upon their own innate ability to persevere in the name of competition.

That's something all top athletes share, and as Peters himself noted, there are certain characteristics that must already be in place for any sportsman or woman to achieve.

"I can't take someone off the street and make them a world champion in whatever sport they wanted. That's not possible, as you need skill and ability with it," he told CNN.

The will to win

Skill and ability are two important factors, but what about the will to win? A desire to push on in search of victory, whether it's in a high-pressure sporting environment or on a reality TV show.

It's clear that individuals at the top of sport are driven to succeed and motivated by that potential success. Whether it's a desire to win or fear of failure, something pushes ordinary athletes to the next level. More often than not, it's self-belief.

Growing that belief is something Peters and Black are experts at, but once a career is over, what does the athlete do next? With alarming regularity, the answer is now to become involved in television talent shows.

A competitive advantage

This is not a Rocky film. The veterans don't go toe-to-toe with a better man and somehow come out victorious. They do however, go up against actors, singers, politicians and, on occasion, journalists.

Of all the professions and possibilities, it's the athlete who is most competitive, having been brought up in the environment of challenging to win. In many ways, that's an unfair advantage in their favour.

However, the British public love their sporting heroes and want to see them on-screen, ideally in bizarre situations. That's where Fogerty found himself alongside Jake Quickenden and Mel Sykes in the final three down under.

Put that trio together in almost any circumstance, and your money would be on Fogerty to come out on top. It just so happens that the British public agree. 

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