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What Tristan K’Nell learnt from chatting to Canberra sporting champions

Lachlan Roberts 16 August 2019

Tristan K’Nell with his new book, Talking with Champions. Photo: Supplied.

Tristan K’Nell has had an opportunity every sports fan dreams of.

He has sat down with sporting legends across the world for his podcast, Talking with TK, including George Foreman, Jonathon Thurston, Clyde Rathbone, Evander Holyfield, Steve Waugh, Caroline Buchanan, Kyah Symon, Archie Thompson, Craig Lowndes and Ellyse Perry.

He gets to be a part of the inner sanctum, where sports stars let down their guard and share personal stories. He’s heard stories of successes and failures from the athlete’s perspective.

The businessman has listened to anecdotes of horror injuries, the champagne-soaked victory celebrations and the life-changing decisions to stop playing the sport their identity is bound to.

But out of all the stories he has heard, one thing stands out the most to him.

“The thing that I have learnt from all my conversations with these sports stars is that they are human, just like me,” K’Nell shared. “They have achieved something great in their sport but there are so many different things that they struggle with.

“If you line up their struggles and their strengths, you would be surprised that anyone with a normal job might have more strengths than them.”

That is why K’Nell has compiled all the stories together in a book, titled Talking with Champions. In it, K’Nell shares his interviews with some of the biggest names in sport, taking the essence of each interview and sharing the elements that made each person a champion.

Having had a heart-to-heart with Canberra elite athletes such as Brad Haddin, Clyde Rathbone, Bradley Clyde, Caroline Buchanan and Matt To’omua, he wants to share their stories of success and show what it takes to excel, on and off the field.

“Clyde Rathbone told me a lot about his upbringing in South Africa, where it was quite a dangerous place,” K’Nell said. “He has seen a lot of different perspectives on life, for someone who is quite young.

“Matt To’omua shared his plans with life after footy. Caroline Buchanan spoke her mindset and passion to exceed.

“It is just like a conversation, just like having a beer with my mates, or lunch with my mum and dad. I try to keep it as casual as possible and let the conversation flow. I don’t ever ask controversial questions.

“Usually the conversation will go to a place where they feel so comfortable that they talk about it themselves. I just feel incredibly privileged to chat with these athletes.”

Another thing all the athletes had in common, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion, was their will to succeed.

“A lot of these elite athletes were not the most naturally talented people growing up,” K’Nell shared. “They might have been the fourth or fifth most talented person in their junior team but it was the little extras that helped them stand out.

“The ones who didn’t make it just turned up to training, had a laugh and went home. These guys though, were super committed and gave up weekends with friends and did extra training on the sides to make it.

“It shows that you have two choices when you are at that age. Talent will only get you so far, but it’s all the little extra things that made them excel.”

Talking with Champions, New Holland Publishers RRP $29.99 available at all leading book retailers or online.


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