• Phil Packer

Olympic Silver medallist & former Great Britain Diver, Leon Taylor, joins the BRIT Ambassador family

We are delighted that Leon is joining our BRIT Ambassador family to support and improve young adult mental health throughout the UK. Leon is a former Great Britain Diver who competed for 16 years and in three Olympic Games, winning silver at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Since his retirement, Leon has become a Commentator for the BBC, Mentor to Olympian Tom Daley, a Performance Coach and member of the British Olympic Association (BOA) Athletes’ Commission.

Leon Taylor - Olympic Silver medallist and former Great Britain Diver

“In supporting Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, as a Mentor to TeamGB athletes and as a Performance Coach, I can appreciate and understand the many mental health challenges that young adults and students face. With the additional impact of the pandemic, it is vital that students are able to access professional mental health support when they need it is crucial that they feel able to ask for help and know where to find it. This requires a multi-agency approach across the NHS and the education and charity sectors.

With charities playing a crucial role in providing professional support and services to students and young adults, it’s great to see that BRIT are inviting every university and college team taking part in the BRIT Challenge to choose a second charity to raise funds for, alongside BRIT, to support local, regional and national charities.

The annual BRIT Challenge is inspiring; particularly the design of this feelgood February fundraiser to be an inclusive event. This is enabling students and staff of all abilities to take part; by hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding).

I am thrilled to be joining the BRIT Ambassador family and urge my fellow Great Britain Olympians, Paralympians and elite athletes to join me. By uniting as BRIT Ambassadors, we can promote the BRIT Challenge at universities and colleges of our choice, encourage participation, destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion. If ever there was a time for us to come together in support of young adult and student mental health, it is now.

Leon Taylor Olympic Silver medallist, Mentor, Commentator and Performance Coach

Leon Taylor - Olympic silver medallist, Mentor, Commentator and Performance Coach

Leon's passion for everything he does has helped him achieve sustained success at the highest level. A 20 year career in a demanding sport is a notable feat in itself. But his breakthrough successes brought diving to the attention of the British public. Training in the pre-lottery funding era in a minority sport had its challenges. Yet at the Athens Olympics of 2004, Leon and his diving partner Peter Waterfield, managed to secure Britain's first medal in the sport for 44 years. An honour which led to new investment in the sport and the development of a new crop of British talent. During his diving career, Leon enjoyed sustained success at the highest level. He participated at 3 Olympic Games and was a member of the Great Britain team for 16 years. The highlight of his career was Silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics. In 1998 he invented "the world's most difficult dive" - a backward 2.5 somersaults with 2.5 twists in the piked position. The dive carried a tariff of 3.8 and was the most difficult dive performed in competition. Following a 2009 rule change, the dive tariff changed to 3.6. Yet, the dive is a legacy that continues to live long after Leon's competitive days. In May 2008, Leon retired from diving but he still enjoys involvement with elite sport. He is a member of the British Olympic Association (BOA) Athletes’ Commission. A role that saw him help TeamGB athletes prepare for Rio 2016 – their most successful to date. Olympic fans will recognise Leon’s voice as the BBC’s “voice of diving”. His colourful, insightful summaries have won him fans of all ages. Since retirement he has also been mentor to, among others, diving sensation Tom Daley. This latter role led him to write his first book, "MENTOR - The most important role you were never trained for". A book aimed at organisations wishing to engage and nurture talent through mentoring. Leon's mentorship skills are now put to good use in his work with SportsAid, the UK’s leading charity for young athletes. He also delivers mentoring workshops as well as continuing to raise funds for this important charity.

Leon supporting the SportsAid charity

After sustaining serious injuries throughout his career, including four shoulder surgeries and a worn disc in his lower back, Leon was advised by his medical team to try yoga... it worked he’s now pain free and has been teaching yoga for a decade. To mark his 40th birthday he completed a challenging Ironman triathlon. In 2015, Sheffield Hallam University awarded Leon an honorary doctorate. Leon continues to collaborate with the University on their mental wellness strategy. His work on the new state-of-the-art Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre is particularly exciting. Leon has a passion for engaging a wide audience about the challenges of mental health. He has featured in many media outlets, including The BBC. The compelling message in his TEDx talk, How to manage your mental health, has proved very popular. His enthusiastic and accessible style is also put to good use for the Young Minds charity. Helping their important work with young people is a role Leon relishes. Leon is a qualified executive coach hired by leaders and entrepreneurs. He combines mentoring and high performance experience with a passion for mental wellness. This leads to sustainable high performance built on long-term mental wellness. To read more about Leon, please visit his website. You can follow Leon on Twitter and Instagram.