Thursday, 4 August 2016
2inspire Inspirational Woman: Olympic Snowboarder, Zoe Gillings-Brier
Olympic snowboarder Zoe Gillings-Brier is the brand ambassador for defibshop, who are the UK’s number one supplier of AEDs.
Zoe has just announced that she is pregnant and she’s still very committed to her training, and believes that she will be able to come back stronger and better for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. What an incredibly inspirational woman!
Please tell us what is a typical training day for you?
A typical day of training for me can really vary as I travel a lot - from Austria, France, Italy and back to my home, the Isle of Man.
With plenty of competitions throughout the year and around the world, I’m often working towards one particular event but I’ve currently got my eyes set on the Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018.
In the summer months I’ll focus a lot on fitness and I love to try other sports to increase my fitness levels, such as mountain climbing, kayaking and BMX racing. I love giving new things a go and challenging myself so I like to keep it varied and try out anything to get my adrenaline pumping and keep me engaged.
In the winter months I can focus on my skills, so I work towards really improving my positioning in the air as well as my landing. You can still snowboard down glaciers in the summer, but the winter gives me more of a chance to focus on honing my skill even further.
What made you start snowboarding and how did you get started?
I started snowboarding when I was ten, but started out as a skier at first. I won a few ESF races and picked up a few snowflake badges.
I entered my first competition shortly after I’d started snowboarding at ten years old, and then at 16 I did my first winter season and started racing internationally.
I’ve come a long way and it’s always been hard work, but I’ve loved every minute of it. Every day I get to train and work towards my next competition and see myself getting better and better. It’s such an exciting and unpredictable sport and it’s a great chance to get your adrenaline pumping, particularly when you’re reaching high speeds on the track!
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the sporting world to date?
I am so proud to be on Team GB and it makes me feel very proud to stand alongside my teammates. To be stood in the start gate, waiting to race, with ‘Great Britain’ on my back, is one of the best feelings – and it gives me so much pride.
I’m very patriotic and proud to be British, and I hope to inspire other people to get into sport – of any kind.
What has been your biggest challenge in sport so far?
I had a setback way back in 2005 when I hurt my foot jumping over a car for a photoshoot, but I’ve come back stronger.
Initially the doctors were worried I wouldn’t race snowboard cross again but I didn’t listen and was determined to come back fighting – and I did!
It took me some time as I found I had to relearn a lot of stuff and it took me a while to get back to full fitness as everything felt different after recovering from my foot injury. I do sometimes wonder what kind of rider I would be had I never suffered that injury and had to take time off from training, but it’s a dangerous sport and you have to allow yourself to recover come back stronger.
What are your future plans for snowboarding and your sport?
Right now I am still focused on my sport but with my due-date in August, I’ll be settling into parenthood and getting to grips with it before looking to qualify in December for the Winter Olympics in 2018.
Everyone is constantly improving in sport so I think it’s really important to make sure I come back strong and ready to give it my all. You can never tell what’s going to happen in a race and it’s so unpredictable.
I also plan to continue with my brand ambassador work, I currently work with defibshop who have provided myself and my teammates with two defibrillators to ensure we’re safe in the event of a cardiac arrest. I think it’s such an important message, and one that I’m glad to be able to represent as a brand ambassador.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
When I look back I like to think I’ve done everything that I could do and explored every avenue possible. I think I’ve tried as hard as I can, and I’m proud in what I’ve achieved.
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
I think it’s important to inspire everyone – not just women – to follow their dreams and achieve their potential. Whether that’s in snowboarding or skiing, or another sport entirely.
What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start snowboarding, or any sport in particular?
I think the best advice is just to get involved and try your best. I started sport at a young age but I think if you want to try something at any age it’s best to just get stuck in!
What or who inspires you in sport and why?
I’ve been hugely inspired by many women in sport, and particularly Jessica Ennis and how she returned to sport after pregnancy. It was hugely motivating and I think it sends a great message to women, in sport and otherwise.
I’m keen to emulate Jessica’s success and come back fitter than ever in time for the qualification period for PyeongChang. There are so many women who do amazing things whilst pregnant and afterwards too, and research even suggests they come back stronger so I can’t wait to see what benefits I might pick up!
Even just in snowboarding, there are so many amazing women and I’ve got a lot of respect for all of them. Jenny Jones, who also snowboarded for Team GB, is a really lovely girl and somebody so worthy of the medals she’s won, and I was delighted when she won back in 2014 for her event at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
I think to ‘Always try your best’ is a brilliant motivational quote, and as long as you know you’ve given it your all you can look back and be proud.