Dubai: UK’s star speed skate champion and three-time Olympian Sarah Lindsay has moved to Dubai, citing the city’s irresistible warmth and positivity as the main reasons.
Five weeks into shifting base, Lindsay, who also runs a roaring business as a celebrity personal trainer back home, told Gulf News: “I am brand new in Dubai and I am here for good.”
Soaking in the comfort of the winter sun, the 43-year-old Lindsay said, “There’s something about the feel of the sun here. Just look at the quality of life and the level of positivity that the city provides. It’s a perfect fit for me.”
Evidently, that is no rhetoric.
As someone who was grounded for 13 months after rupturing her spinal disc in an ice rink crash in London, Lindsay knows what it literally takes to rise from a fall.
“It’s only the power of positivity that can see you through,” said the European gold medalist, 2x world silver medalist and 10x British speed skating champion.
Lindsay’s journey since the 2007 mishap is inspiring. She talks of how the incident made her determined to do the best in her skating career, and subsequently transformed her from a “selfish athlete” into a “privileged coach”.
“It was in my last Olympics in 2010 that I achieved record pace. I was at my best and peaked in my career that year,” said Lindsay, who was a professional short track skater from the age of 16 to 29.
She recalled how just a few months earlier, she lay on the hospital bed, with the doctors telling her that she could never skate again. “No doubt the accident was bad. I tripped and flipped, hitting the barrier of the rink head first. I suffered a serious injury on my vertebrae. But to hear what the doctors said was very difficult. So in my mind, I chose to ignore the words. I knew I had only a couple of years of active skating left, so I resolved to bounce back as soon as possible.”
Road to recovery
The road to recovery was not easy. “In the five weeks that I was at the Olympic Medical Centre in London, I remember days when I would get very depressed. I was used to exercising six-nine hours a day, and suddenly to be completely immobile was shattering. At one point, I even felt like I did not want to live anymore if I could not skate again. And that’s when I pushed myself to firm up my resolve to recover. I started with small goals – standing up for a few seconds longer, taking a few more steps, staying in the pool for a few more minutes and so on.”
Lindsay believes that the real lessons in life are drawn from failure. “Everytime you lose, you learn. And believe me when I say this, because as an ice skater, one loses 100 out of 105 races. No doubt, winning makes you feel good, satisfied and accomplished. But if you are not challenged, you will never know what you are capable of.”
Lindsay said the premise held her in good stead even when she reached the end of her skating career. As she pointed out, “I retired at 29. When I finished sport, I felt like I was just out of school. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Most of my peers were in good jobs and well settled. But it was up to me to rise again.”
The former Olympian has no qualms about saying, “I failed aplenty, made mistakes many times. So I was fearless and not risk averse. I was ready to put myself out there and make a new beginning.”
Having qualified as a personal trainer for 10 years at Britain Team GB, she decided to channel her skills into an enterprise that she could drive herself. All the learnings from the past ensured things fell into place, even as she realised that her new calling was to help not herself, but others win; To put it in her own words, “A selfish athlete became a privileged coach.”
Lindsay, who offers exclusive personal trainer services at a chain of centres called ROAR in London, said she feels genuinely thankful that she can share her learnings with her clients, including celebs like Dame Kelly Holmes, Pixie Lott, Millie Mackintosh, Vogue Williams and Piewrs Morgan.
All set to launch a fourth centre here in Dubai, she said, “Again, Dubai is big on fitness and well-being, so it made a lot of sense for my husband Rich Phillipps and me to look at a global expansion in the UAE.”
Like she pointed out earlier, there’s something about Dubai that draws people to its shores, it’s positivity allowing them to dream big and turn those dreams into reality.