#93 – Siobhan-Marie O’Connor | Playing the Hand You’re Dealt

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor is an Olympic Silver Medalist & World Champion Swimmer who was forced to retire from her sport at the age of 25 due to health complications caused by Ulcerative Colitis.

Siobhan’s story is one of how against physical struggle she was able to make it to the top and achieve success. Lewis and Siobhan talk about how she grew up with the condition and how life was before and after the diagnosis, the issues that it causes, competing in the world championships and Olympics at a young age, second chances, self-belief, her amazing relationship with her coach and a brilliant system to track her progress and leave her feeling confident she had done everything that she was able to perform to her best.

Siobhan’s story is one of triumph against physical challenges which she embodies the belief that if you want something enough you really can achieve it.

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This episode at a glance

  • What Siobhan-Marie has been up to lately. [3:14]
  • What Siobhan-Marie has discovered about herself in the last few months. [6:17]
  • When Siobhan retired, she received a lot of kind and supportive messages. [10:44]
  • Siobhan-Marie talks about the letter she wrote in (Dec 2020) that went viral. [11:14]
  • Siobhan talks about her condition, ulcerative colitis and how she struggled with the illness that led to her retirement. [13:38]
  • How Siobhan-Marie managed to accept retiring from sport at an early age. [19:08]
  • Sometimes, setbacks need to happen so that the person can discover how far they are able to go. [25:53]
  • Siobhan recalls how she qualifed for the World Championships when she was 15, and how her coach said that she was scared to win. [31:32]
  • Be respectful of your opponents before or after the race, but during the race, you should do your best and not give your opponent the advantage by respecting their achievements too much. [34:40]
  • How Siobhan-Marie got started in the sport, swimming. [39:38]
  • Siobhan-Marie shares more of what happened after she discovered she had ulcerative colitis. [43:22]
  • It took Siobhan-Marie a year to accept her diagnosis and she struggled physically and mentally because of her symptoms. [51:05]
  • The role of Siobhan’s coach, Dave Mcnulty and her parents to her success in sports. [52:58]
  • Siobhan shares what she and her coach did to prepare for the Rio Olympics after they found out about her condition. [57:53]
  • Siobhan shares how working with her sports psychologist and using a training tracker helped her overcome self-doubt of not having trained as hard or as long as other athletes her age. [1:03:40]
  • Siobhan talks about how her mental preparation almost won her the gold for her event at the Rio Olympics and how she felt in that moment. [1:07:34]
  • Siobhan’s story is proof that mental strength and focus is as is, if not more important, than overtraining. [1:16:18]
  • Values and Siobhan-Marie has lived by to be a good person and a great athlete. [1:17:49]
  • Siobhan’s book recommendation and inspiration. [1:20:52]
  • What the future looks like for Siobhan-Marie. [1:23:26]


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