Tales of the Top Two Inches is a free-to-attend discussion series about mental wellbeing in High Performance Sport, featuring various speakers who have been involved with High Performance Sport.

Our next talk will be taking place in October of 2021. Stay tuned for updates and future speaker announcements at @talesnz
Our events are proudly supported by the good people at Grey Roasting Co., and the 

Sam Dakin - Co-Founder of ACL, and Tales of the Top Two Inches, Elite New Zealand Track Cyclist, 2020 Tokyo Olympic Team Member

I'm a 24 year old, professional athlete and young entrepreneur originally from the City of Sails. Currently, riding a bike in circles in the lovely town of Cambridge as a member of the NZ National Track Sprint team. I have a passion for problem solving, sport, coffee and seeing how I can squeeze the most out of life. I love sharing stories about my journey in the hope that it will inspire or help people along the way. 

For me it has been a battle of OCD, Anxiety, and depression. I was diagnosed in early 2020 after coming back from my first World Championships in Berlin. The OCD was causing me to have disturbing thoughts that attacked who I thought I was as a person. It started when I woke up one day in 2018 and it just continued to get worse and worse. To the point where I was having these thoughts on repeat 16hrs a day. It nearly took me to the pointt no return. Thanks to a few google searches, DG, talking to my mum and a man called Jock Matthews I was able to start my journey of becoming 'Sam Dakin' again. 

I never understood how someone would want to end their life until I went through this. It enlightened me to how scary people own thoughts are. Your mind is your greatest strength, but also your worst enemy. I'm outgoing by nature and wear my heart on the end of my sleeve; so, after hiding this for so long I thought there must be so many more out there that are struggling, particularly in sport. 

This is what motivated me to join forces with Callum and found Tales of the Top Two Inches. The vision to change, and elevate the conversation surrounding mental wellbeing in sport in New Zealand, and around the world. 

Sport is a challenging space in itself. You are measured everyday in all areas of what you do; How you feel affects your performance. How you ate last night affects your performance. EVERYTHING affects your performance. This is why is it so important to look after your mental wellbeing in sport. And this balance, and journey is going to be different for everyone. For me, it was about talking about how I felt. Ensuring I did the things that made me happy even it if may compromise my sport slightly. The trade off of doing that resulted in a greater increase in performance. As they say - a happy athlete is a fast athlete. 

Sport is tough but it is rewarding. You want to be able to enjoy those tough moments and the highs too. It is about the journey. Every single part of it. If you are working on your mental space you will be better in all areas and most importantly you'll be better equipped to handle the highs and lows on the rollercoaster that is high performance sport. 

The greatest learning I've taken from my struggles is that you just need to be how you feel each day. Don't fight your feelings. When you're sad don't try to be happy. When you do that, you give the day a chance to be what it wants to be. Some of the days I woke up the saddest I ended the happiest based on this learning. 

Talk to those people close to you. It may seem scary to talk about what is going on inside your head. I can promise you thought that you are not the only person going through it. You might even find that your parents or friends have had the same struggles. As a young athlete enjoy what you do, be driven but kind to yourself. Parents, ask your kids how they are really going. Share a story about when you've struggled in your life. As humans, we tend to be open if someone else is open with us. Take that step and show your kids how to be vulnerable. It is the strongest thing you can do.


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