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The Great British Gold Medalists Research Project: Implications for Applied Practice

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Session Length: 75 minutes


Aaron Goodson, PhD, CMPC, LPC, Duke University Athletics
Peter Haberl, EdD, CMPC, Private Practice
Karen Lo, MEd, CMPC, ISSP-R, Inner Edge Limited
Anne Marte Pensgaard, PhD, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences/Norwegian Olympic Training Center
Tim Rees, PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, BASES Accred., FHEA, Bournemouth University


UK Sports recently tasked a team of acclaimed international researchers with taking a deep dive into the development of elite athlete talent in order to support evidence-based decision making. In this webinar, Professor Tim Rees, a member of the research team, will present the results of this multi-year investigation, with particular focus on the psycho-social discriminators between Super-elite and Elite athletes. Super-elite athletes are often repeated medal winners at the Olympic Games, whereas Elite athletes usually qualified for the Games but did not medal. As we look at understanding the achievements of these athletes, what discriminates Super-elite athletes from Elite athletes? What are the experiences that shape athletes to attain the Super-elite level? What do we understand about their personalities, and how do they approach the sporting context in ways that allow them to achieve repeated success? Are there any downsides to this approach? How do these findings inform our approach to talent development?

In the spirit of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris beginning in about one year, the aim of this webinar is to present key research findings of the Great British Gold Medalists project and to utilize a scientist-practitioner approach in discussing how the research can inform applied practice at the youth, collegiate, and Olympic sport levels.

This webinar is sponsored by the AASP International Relations Committee and the AASP Special Interest Group (SIG) for International Olympic Sport Psychology Providers.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the key findings of the Great British Gold Medalist Research Project and what they mean for CMPCs and AASP members who work at the youth, collegiate, and Olympic levels of sport
  • Understand the difference between Elite and Super-elite athletes
  • Understand factors that discriminate Super-elite Olympians from Elite Olympians (i.e., positive and negative life events; motivation and commitment; outcome and task orientation; performance under pressure)
  • Understand the concept of “counter-phobia”
  • Gain insights from research to incorporate into their applied practice


  • Güllich, A., Hardy, L., Kuncheva, L., Woodman, T., Laing, S., Barlow, M., Evans, L., Rees, T., Abernethy, B., Côté, J., Warr, C., & Wraith, L. (2019). Developmental biographies of Olympic super-elite and elite athletes: A multidisciplinary pattern recognition analysis. Journal of Expertise, 2(1).
  • Hardy, L., Barlow, M., Evans, L., Rees, T., Woodman, T., & Warr, C. (2017). Great british medalists: Psychosocial biographies of super-elite and elite athletes from Olympic sports. Progress in Brain Research, 232, 1-119. 10.1016/bs.pbr.2017.03.004
  • Hardy, L., Barlow, M., Evans, L., Rees, T., Woodman, T., & Warr, C. (2017). Great british medalists: Response to the commentaries. Progress in Brain Research, 232, 207-216. 10.1016/bs.pbr.2017.03.005
  • Rees, T., Hardy, L., Güllich, A., Abernethy, B., Côté, J., Woodman, T., Montgomery, H., Laing, S., & Warr, C. (2016). The great british medalists project: A review of current knowledge on the development of the world’s best sporting talent. Sports Medicine, 46(8), 1041-1058. 

CE Credit
This program has been approved for 1.25 CEUs to partially meet the continuing education recertification requirement for Certified Mental Performance Consultants® (CMPC). 

Program Format
You can attend an AASP webinar from your home or office. All you need is an internet connection. You can see the presentation slides on your computer or mobile device, and listen to the audio through your device, or call in with a phone. Registrants will be provided with login information the day prior to the session. The webinar will also be archived for those who wish to watch it at a later date.

About the Speakers

Aaron Goodson, PhD, CMPC, LPC
Aaron earned a PhD in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology from West Virginia University in 2018. During his time as a doctoral student, Aaron worked with teams within the West Virginia University Department of Athletics as well as the counseling center at Fairmont State University. During his time at West Virginia University, he completed a M.S. in Sport and Exercise Psychology, a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a graduate certificate in University Teaching. Prior to that, he completed a B.A. in Sociology from Davidson College in 2011, where he was a member of the tennis team during his first two years. Over the last decade, Aaron has researched and done applied work around the psychosocial experience and development of NCAA student-athletes. A portion of these student-athletes have Olympic aspirations and/or involvement representing their home country while competing at their NCAA institution. He has served in roles as Instructor and Professor in collegiate academic classrooms and Assistant Director and Director of Counseling and Sport Psychology in NCAA athletic departments. Aaron has been an active member in AASP since 2012. During his time in the organization, he has served as a member of the AASP Foundation Committee (2015-2018), a co-coordinator for the Race and Ethnicity Special Interest Group (2014-2019), a member of the Diversity Committee (2019-Present), and a co-facilitator of the Black Professionals in Sport & Performance Psychology Affinity Group (2022-Present). Aaron is a licensed professional counselor and a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).

Peter Haberl, EdD, CMPC
Peter has been an AASP member since 1995. He currently is the chair of the AASP SIG for International Olympic Sport Psychology Providers. Peter has enjoyed the privilege of having worked at nine Olympic Games, four Pan American Games, and one Paralympic Games with U.S. athletes. He was employed by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee from 1998 to 2023 and is now in private practice. He continues to work with U.S. National Teams and athletes as they prepare for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Prior to moving to the U.S., Peter played professional ice hockey in Austria, where he was born and received his bachelor’s degree in sports science from the University of Vienna, Austria. He later earned his master's degree in counseling and his Ed. D. in counseling psychology at Boston University. A licensed psychologist, Peter focuses on mindfulness and ACT-based interventions. He is the recipient of the 2011 AASP Distinguished Professional Practice Award. 

Karen Lo, MEd, CMPC, ISSP-R                    
Karen is the current chair of the International Relations Committee of AASP. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she is the first Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), USA in the greater China area, and a Registered Practitioner of the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP-R). She manages her own private practice, Inner Edge, where she works with athletes across all sports, from youth golfers to collegiate fencers to professional jockeys, in Hong Kong and within Asia. She also teaches sport psychology at the undergraduate and graduate level. Karen’s passion for sport and performance psychology stems from her 7 years as a HK National swimmer and HK Sports Institute scholarship athlete. She narrowly missed the Olympic cut at the age of 15 and slowly transitioned out of sport after experiencing bouts of burnout. Her experiences in the day-to-day pressures as a student-athlete led her to the fascinating field of sport and performance psychology, and she had since wanted to give back and serve a population close to her heart. Over the years, more than half of her athletes were under 18; she has a concrete understanding of the contextual demands that influence youth athletes’ capacities to achieve at the highest level. Karen received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Hong Kong and completed her Master’s of Education in Counseling and Sport Psychology at Boston University, USA. Her first book, Sport Psychology: Building Confidence and Maximizing Potential (Chinese), is the first sport psychology book in Hong Kong and written specially for secondary school students, PE teachers, coaches and young parents. Her areas of interest include student-athlete identity salience, motivation, resilience and coaching psychology. Karen has previously served on the AASP Student Development Committee (2014-2017), International Relations Committee (2017-2020, 2023-Present), CMPC Outreach Committee (2021-2022) and Distinguished Professional Practice Award Committee (2022-Present).                  

Anne Marte Pensgaard, PhD
Anne Marte is a Professor in sport psychology at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and also at the Norwegian Olympic Training Center. She has had this joint position since 2002 and conducted extensive research within elite sport, lately focusing on mental health, as well as working with world class and Olympic Gold medalists athletes in a number of different sports such as Snowboard, Freeski, Soccer and Rifle shooting. She has been an accredited Sport Psychologist at seven Olympic Games and is now preparing for Paris 2024 and Cortina 2026. In addition, she has attended numerous World Championships in many different sports. Lately she has also worked closely with world class Chefs and leading performers in Opera and Pop music. She is a certified CBT and MCT therapist as well working within the framework of ACT and Mindfulness practice. Anne Marte loves being outdoors and spending time in Nature and also uses this as one of her approaches when working with world class performers.

Tim Rees, PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, BASES Accred., FHEA
Tim is a Professor of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Bournemouth University in the UK, a British Psychological Society Chartered Psychologist, and a BASES Accredited Sport & Exercise Scientist. Tim’s research into elite sport has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Council, the International Olympic Committee, UK Sport, the England and Wales Cricket Board, England Rugby, and AFC Bournemouth. Tim’s work has been published in the most prestigious and high-impact academic publications, as well as being featured in various podcasts, and in all major printed and online media, including extensive interviews for US National Public Radio, the BBC World Service, and BBC Radio 4. His “Great British Medalists” work has become one of the most downloaded articles in Sports Medicine, and the project was nominated for the Times Higher Education Research Project of the Year award 2016. Alongside its impact in sport, this work has been cited in relation to many other performance domains. By way of example, Sir Michael Barber, former chief adviser to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, drew parallels from this work to patterns of behavior of high achievers in politics.



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