As I reflect on my journey as a triathlete, one figure stands apart in shaping not only my career but also who I am today – Grant Giles, or as many of us fondly know him, Gilesy. Grant was more than a coach; he was a mentor, a confidant, and a pivotal force in my life.
Grant entered my life during a period of uncertainty. I was navigating the complex world of professional sports, filled with its highs and lows. It was a time when victories were not just about crossing the finish line first but about discovering oneself. This is where Grant's role transcended the traditional coach-athlete relationship.
The Mentorship Beyond the Sport
Grant's coaching philosophy was unique. He believed in nurturing the athlete as a whole, focusing on mental and emotional well-being as much as physical strength. His approach was holistic, recognising that a sound mind and a healthy emotional state were critical to athletic performance.
I vividly remember my first panic attack in New Orleans. It was a new and terrifying experience. In that moment of vulnerability, it was Grant I reached out to. This decision marked a turning point in our relationship. He became someone I could confide in, share my fears with, and seek guidance from. Grant listened, understood, and supported me unconditionally, helping me navigate through those challenging times.
A Coach With No Ego
Grant's humility and selflessness were the cornerstones of his coaching. He fostered an environment where every athlete felt valued and respected. Unlike many others, he never let ego dictate his methods. He celebrated our victories as if they were his own and shared in our defeats, always looking for lessons rather than casting blame.
Under Grant's guidance, our team, Aeromax, experienced what can only be described as a golden era. We dominated races across Australia, not due to individual talent alone but because of the collective spirit Grant nurtured within us. He created a culture where collaboration trumped competition, even among the best of us.
Grant was the most influential coach I ever had. He will still remain one of the most influential people in my life. Once we started connecting on that deeper level, that was when the results started to come. I didn't really have all that much success until I opened up about my own struggles with him. Grant shared his own struggles with me, and I quickly learned that he was a coach and a person that has no ego whatsoever. This deep connection and understanding went far beyond just athlete and coach—it was a relationship that profoundly influenced not just my career, but my entire approach to life.
Clayton Fettell (as told on the Diary of an Age Grouper podcast)
The Deep Connection
Grant's impact on me went far beyond the tactical aspects of triathlon. He taught me the importance of emotional intelligence, of understanding and empathizing with others. These lessons were invaluable, not just in sports but in every facet of life.
Our training sessions were more than just workouts; they were lessons in life. Grant often delved into philosophical discussions, making us think and reflect on our purpose, our goals, and our approach to life. This depth added a layer of richness to our training that I hadn't experienced before.
A Legacy of Excellence
Looking back, I realise how Grant's teachings have shaped my own coaching style. He instilled in me the belief that a coach's role is to stand in the shadows, allowing the athletes to shine. He emphasized that true success comes from helping others achieve their dreams.
Grant's legacy extends far beyond the numerous titles and championships we won. It lies in the lives he touched and transformed. He taught us that there's more to life than winning races. He showed us that true victory lies in personal growth, resilience, and the ability to overcome life's hurdles.
A Lasting Influence
Today, as I coach aspiring athletes, I carry Grant's teachings with me. I see each athlete as a person first, understanding their unique challenges and aspirations. This approach has allowed me to connect with them on a deeper level, helping them achieve success both on and off the track.
Grant was more than a coach; he was a visionary who saw potential where others saw limits. He believed in the power of the human spirit and the importance of nurturing it. His influence on my life has been profound, and the lessons he imparted continue to guide me.