107 Derek Redmond – 4x400m Relay World Champion

It’s one of the most iconic images in the history of the Olympic games.

Derek Redmond, being helped by his father, hobbling to the finish line with a torn hamstring in the semi-finals of the 400 meters at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Derek recalls that incredible story of grit and determination in this episode of the Best in the World with Richard Parr.

One year earlier, Derek and the British relay team had won gold in the 4×400 meters, surprising the American favorites.

Derek explains how the late decision to change the order of the line-up played a crucial role in that victory.

After athletics, Derek played professional basketball and has also competed at a high level in rugby, motorcycling, and kickboxing.

Derek reveals the transferable skill from athletics that has helped him be successful in these other sports.

You can learn more about Derek at Derekredmond.com.

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111 Gigi Fernandez – 17x Grand Slam Tennis Doubles Champion

Gigi Fernandez is a 17x Grand Slam champion in doubles tennis.

She won 14 of those titles with Natasha Zvereva and the other three were with Robin White, Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna.  

On this week’s Best in the World with Richard Parr, Gigi talks about how Jana’s decision to split up their team led her to her ‘invincible’ partnership with Natasha.  

Gigi also won two Olympic gold medals alongside Mary Joe Fernandez in 1992 and 1996.  

Along with raising her children, Gigi runs doubles.tv. Identifying the lack of doubles specific tennis coaching, the Puerto Rican created this online platform to help recreational players.  

By listening to this podcast you’ll get to learn about the Gigi Method and the five most important steps any doubles players need to know to be successful.  

Gigi is helping raise funds to power Puerto Rico.

You can learn about the Viktre Challenge here.

You can also follow her on Instagram @gigifernandeztennis17 

110 Tianna Bartoletta – Long Jump & 4x100m Relay Olympic Champion

Tianna Bartoletta is the reigning Olympic Long jump champion.

She also has gold medals in the 4×100 meters relay from both the 2012 and 2016 games. 

The 2-time long jump World Champion is our guest on this episode of the Best in the World with Richard Parr. 

Tianna opens up on the podcast regarding the break up her marriage and the reason why she is most proud of the long jump bronze medal she won last year at the World Championships.

The American admits that while it is still difficult to talk about she knows she needs to so she can help others.  

Tianna talks about her time competing in bobsled and how it helped her regain her confidence in jumping.  

The Ohio native explains the added expenses she incurs on the road so that she can stay in the best shape possible to compete.

Tianna goes further by saying that events can be won in the airport before the competitors even get to the track. 

Richard and Tianna also talk a lot about her writing and her blog which you can read here. 

If you want to continue the conversation on sports performance then join our new Best in the World Facebook group   

Plus, if you want to keep listening and learning from World and Olympic Champions then please support the Best in the World with Richard Parr podcast on Patreon .


Susan Francia is a 2-time Olympic champion and a 5-time World Champion in rowing.

On this episode of the Best in the World, Richard Parr asks Susan if she felt invincible between 2006-12 with all of those achievements? 

Susan talks about how she got started in the sport and how one coach could recognize her Olympic talent right at the start.  

The American reveals which NBA star she inspired with her first gold medal in the women’s eight at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.   

Also on the podcast, Susan gives her advice to any sports people trying to get sponsorship.

Now a coach Susan explains what she knows now and what she looks for when she is identifying new talent.  

All that and more on this episode of the Best in the World with Richard Parr. 

You can follow Susan on Instagram @susanfrancia. 

We’re continuing our conversation on sports and high performance in our Best in the World Facebook group.

Be a part of our community here.   

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108 Vincent Hancock – Shooting Olympic Champion

Vincent Hancock is a 2-time Olympic Champion and a 3-time World Champion in the sport of skeet shooting.

The American also hold National, Olympic and World Records and is our guest on this episode of the Best in the World with Richard Parr.

Vincent was just 19 when he won his first Olympic title at the 2008 Beijing games. After struggling with his motivation for the sport in 2011 a year later in London he retained his Olympic title by hitting every target in the final.

Vincent explains how he did that on this podcast.

The Texas resident also opens up about his relationship with his father, he gives us a technique to get kids interested in shooting and talks about his time in the U.S. Army marksmanship unit.

You can follow Vincent’s journey on Instagram @vincenthancock.

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Failing Forward

“The year that I won the Olympics in 2000 I actually lost five matches that year,” wrestling champion Brandon Slay tells me on the Best in the World with Richard Parr podcast. “I went to a couple of tournaments and I didn’t even place and got beaten by some guys.”

“That attitude of realising I can’t let a loss, I can’t let defeat define me, I can’t let it destroy me; knowing that it is part of failing forward, struggling well and taking those necessary lessons to make me stronger. I think all of that was really important for my career.”

Brandon Slay is now the Executive Director and Head Coach and the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center in Philadelphia. Before he coached the USA wrestling team for two Olympic cycles for the 2012 and 2016 games.

“Success doesn’t come overnight,” says Brandon.

“Most people in our culture nowadays have the desire to start something, to try something whether it’s a sport, a hobby, a new job whatever it maybe. I think there’s this idea that they’re going to become successful and really good at something immediately. And that’s not the reality.”

“Anybody who starts something for the first time, specifically a sport – you don’t walk into a basketball court, take a basketball and shoot three pointers and make every one of them. You don’t pick up a football and start throwing perfect passes or get a soccer ball and start kicking it in amazing ways. It takes time and effort. It takes making good decisions. It takes extra hard work.”

On the way to becoming an Olympic champion, Brandon earned a business degree from the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania while at the same time becoming a two-time NCAA All-American. It wasn’t easy for the man from Amarillo, Texas.

“You have potentially five to six wrestling workouts a week and you’d lift weights three to four times a week so you’d potentially be working out 8-9 times a week. So you add those eight to nine workouts with your academic responsibilities, that becomes really challenging.”

Life became easier for Brandon once he graduated so he could fully focus on the Sydney Olympics.

“When I moved out to the Olympic training centre after graduating from college I didn’t have, four or five classes, I wasn’t writing three or four papers a week, I wasn’t studying for mid-terms and finals.”

“All I was essentially doing was being ultra focused on becoming the best wrestler in the World”.

Part of that focus included visualisation. The three-time Texas state champion explained to me what he would do before a competition.

“The mental preparation is what I would call visualisation. A lot of that would have to do with visualising specific opponents that I would want to beat. So I would see myself scoring on points on say the guy from Russia or the guy from Iran or the guy from Bulgaria or even from the United States and certain Americans I’d need to beat. I’d see myself taking them down, turning them, pinning them, seeing myself get my hand raised against them at the end of that match. Seeing that over and over and over and over again, whether it’s during the day when I’m day dreaming or whether it’s a specific time I’d set aside to visualise or whether it’s when I’m laying in bed at night before I went to sleep. I think it’s just seeing my self succeed, seeing myself do what I’ve been drilling and preparing to do was very, very important for my success. If you can see it then you are able to do it. I think if you are not able to visualise yourself doing it and you just can’t fathom that you can actually do something like that I think it’s going to be a real challenge to pull if off. If you can see yourself doing it then I think it’s possible to accomplish.”

Beyond visualising the actions he would take to succeed, Brandon would visualise the result and success.

“I saw myself with the gold medal. I saw myself bending my head round and somebody putting a gold medal around my neck saying ‘you will forever be Olympic Champion.’ I told people that’s what I wanted to accomplish. I visualised myself singing The Star-Spangled Banner. I visualised myself beating the Russian who hadn’t lost in six years and knowing that I was going to have to beat him. He was the reigning Olympic champion; knowing I was going to have to beat Buvaisar Saitiev from Russia to win the gold medal. I knew that was the case and so I saw myself, I visualised myself beating him over and over again. And again I think it’s a really healthy thing to do mentally because if you can visualise yourself doing it then it’s achievable.”

Going into the 2000 Sydney games, Buvaisar Saitiev was the reigning Olympic champion and a three-time World Champion. In Australia, Slay was drawn with Saitiev and the Bulgarian Plamen Paskalev in the elimination pool stage. Victories over Paskalev for Slay and Saitiev meant their match would determine who was going through to the quarter-finals.

With the match drawn at 3-3 at the end of the two three minute rounds, overtime was needed. 30 seconds into the additional period what Slay had visualised became a reality. He managed to get the winning point to cause a sensational upset. Slay’s 4-3 victory would be the only time Saitiev would ever lose at the Olympics. The Russian would go on to win two more Olympic gold medals in Athens and Beijing, along with three more World titles.

But in Sydney, Slay celebrated the first round victory like he had just won the gold medal, yet he still had three more matches to go.

The American then defeated Gennadiy Laliyev of Kazakhstan in the quarter-finals and former World Championship bronze medallist Adem Bereket of Turkey in the semis.

To become the first American Olympic welterweight champion since Kenny Monday in 1998, Slay had to defeat Alexander Leipold of Germany in the final.

But he lost 4-0 in what he considers controversial circumstances. “It’s a very ominous match,” Slay says.

“I got called for things there that I had never been called for in my whole entire wrestling career, which was very strange to me.”

“It was a very frustrating period of time. I felt it wasn’t really refereed correctly.”

“I didn’t cry over Olympic spilt milk for too long. I realised that I gave my best effort that I could in that tournament. I didn’t have any regrets.”

“Although I didn’t have the gold medal that night I did have a silver medal from an Olympic games.”

“I realised that night that there is more to life than gold medals.”

However there would be more than a silver medal for Brandon Slay in his life.

A few weeks after the final, it was revealed that Alexander Leipold had failed a drugs test during the games. He had tested positive for using the banned substance nandrolone. Leipold was stripped of his medal.

On 16 November 2000, just over six weeks after the final, live on NBC’s Today Show, Brandon was presented his gold medal outside the Rockefeller Center in New York City.

“They did give me my gold medal and I did get to sing The Star-Spangled Banner, and I did hear them say ‘you will forever be Olympic champion.’ No it wasn’t in Sydney the night I wanted it to happen but it still happened and I’m still thankful for it.”

Having achieved his goal, did Brandon Slay’s life change?

“Most people, I think they feel that if they become Olympic champion or they become wealthy or they get a certain type of job or they get a certain type of home or they become a pro soccer player or professional football player or if they marry a specific person or if they get into a specific college. Whatever that goal or summit it is for them. I think there’s a lot of people who feel that once they reach that point in their life then they will have made it, there’s like this panacea and there will be no problems and everything will be smooth sailing for the rest of their lives. I would say that is a lie.”

“What happens is you accomplish your goal and it’s very special and you enjoy your view at the top of the mountain, so to speak, you enjoy the view. But ultimately you can’t stay on top of the mountain for the rest of your life. You have to take your pictures, breathe some fresh air but then you have to walk back down. You have to go find another mountain to climb. You have to find another set of goals to accomplish. The danger is though that some people reach that summit, they want to stay up there and they don’t want to come down and they draw value in that and that’s what defines them and it ends up being kind of sad because when it defines who they are and they draw value on that I think they really miss out on the rest of their lives.”

“The what’s next for me was a positive thing. It wasn’t like ‘well I won the gold medal now there’s not going to be any more joy for me the rest of my life.’ It was like ‘well ok I’ve accomplished my goal. The view is really, really nice. Let me take some pictures of the view so to speak but let’s go walk down the mountain and find another mountain to climb and I think that’s how we should view goals.’”

According to Brandon there is a need to set objective goals and process goals.

“It‘s pretty easy to set objective goals. What I mean by that is: say athletically speaking, I want to be a state champion, I want to be a national champion, I want to be Olympic champion. It’s easy to write those down. But the challenge is to set process goals. What I mean by that is if I say I want to be Olympic champion well what’s that going to take? Well it’s going to take me wrestling in high school; it’s going to take me wrestling in college. There’s going to be a lot of things that take place before I even get to the Olympics before I can accomplish that. Well what else is it going to take? I’m going to have to get better at my offence on the mat. I’m going to have to get better at my defence, I’m going to have to get stronger, I’m going to have to get faster so there is all those other things that are needed to be accomplished before I can be Olympic champion. So I then have to set up all these other process goals along the way to help me accomplish those.”

Ultimately Brandon says only one thing matters to succeed.

“The most important question is what are you willing to sacrifice to get there?”

105 Casey FitzRandolph – Speed skating Olympic Champion

Casey FitzRandolph is the 500 metres Olympic speed skating gold medallist from the 2002 Salt Lake City games.

The American broke the Olympic record in the process. 

Casey now works in insurance in his home state of Wisconsin helping companies manage risk.

On the Best in the World with Richard Parr podcast Casey explains whether risks are needed to become a champion in sports.

He talks about the difficulty of life after sports and what he used from his athletic career to adjust to his life in business.  

Casey talks in depth about his relationship with his father.

How his dad motivated him to win as a child and how their relationship changed when Casey began to compete at a World level. 

The American also opens up on why he decided to train with the Canadian team and the lessons he learnt with them. 

To continue to follow Casey’s journey head to Caseyfitz.com. 

We discuss even more about high-performance sport in our Best in the World Facebook group 

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104 Tanja Frieden – Snowboard Cross Olympic Champion

Tanja Frieden was in second place in the snowboard cross final at the 2006 Turin Olympics until the leader Lindsey Jacobellis fell in the penultimate jump.

Tanja would cross the line first to complete her dream of becoming the Olympic Champion.

Tanja tells her story on this episode of the Best in the World with Richard Parr. 

Tanja is now a personal development coach for both sports and business people.

One of the methods she teaches is Logosynthesis.

Tanja explains what it is, how it helped her win her gold medal and how it can help you.  

Tanja tells Richard how her life changed when she became Olympic champion, why she had prepared differently for the 2010 Vancouver games and;

She talks about the injury she sustained that forced her to miss those Olympics. 

Having represented Norway and Switzerland, Tanja also clears up the inaccuracies on Wikipedia! 

You can learn more about Tanja at Tanjafrieden.ch 

 You can continue the discussion on sports and high performance in the Best in the World Facebook group 

Paul Gerhard is one of our fantastic patrons supporting our podcast.

You can do the same at patreon.com/bestintheworld 

103 Stefan Groothuis – Speed Skating Olympic Champion

In 2014, at the age of 32, Stefan Groothuis became the 1000 metres speed skating Olympic Champion.

Stefan is our guest this week on the Best in the World with Richard Parr. 

Stefan opens up about his battle with depression in 2011.

He talks about how he managed to get over his mental illness and eventually win Olympic gold 

He talks about the injuries he suffered throughout his career including slicing his Achilles with his skate.  

The Dutchman tells us what a World-class speed skater requires from his equipment and his thoughts on the Norwegian skaters wearing blue suits.  

You can learn more about Stefan at Stefangroothuis.nl. 

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Plus, if you want to keep listening and learning from World and Olympic Champions then please support the Best in the World with Richard Parr podcast on Patreon at patreon.com/bestintheworld. 

102 Dominique Gisin –Downhill Skiing Olympic Champion

In 2014 after a career filled with injuries Dominique Gisin became Olympic champion. The Swiss won the Downhill Skiing event at the 2014 Sochi games. 

Dominique reminisces about the dramatic finale that saw her share the top of the podium with Tina Maze.  

She tells Richard what mental trick she used to change her fortunes. We also learn about her diet, what it’s like to crash at 120 kilometres an hour and who inspires her.  

Having now retired we hear that Dominique is now studying physics and for her commercial pilots licence. 

You can learn more about Dominique including her book ‘Making it Happen’ at Dominiquegisin.ch.  

If you want to continue the conversation on sports performance then join our new Best in the World Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/528892100811980/ 

Plus, if you want to keep listening and learning from World and Olympic Champions then please support the Best in the World with Richard Parr podcast on Patreon at patreon.com/bestintheworld.