"You can’t fluke a gold medal at an Olympic Games": Q&A with ETF Securities' Larry Achike November 2018


Larry Achike was always self-motivated! While his friends were enjoying the freedom that comes with youth, Larry had already won his first global title as a Triple Jumper and was hungry for more. In a fascinating Q&A, he tells Industry Moves about his path to becoming an Olympian, his work coaching kids from some of London's toughest neighbourhoods, the four principles he attributes to his success, and how his love of a challenge has lead him to his latest role at ETF Securities.

What drew you to take up the role at ETF Securities?

I have always loved to challenge myself. This is an industry I have been interested in for many years. I have dabbled in stocks and shares on several different platforms from having my own self-managed portfolio of stocks, to spread betting and options trading! My recent experience in a national sales role also stood me in good stead for the role at EFT Securities.

Can you share some key goals in your new role, that you would like to realise in 2019?

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the financial environment I have immersed myself in and drive the business forward. I would like to excel in my current role and feel like I’m making a positive contribution to the ETFS team.

Your athletic career spanned 20 years, how did you maintain the fitness (both in mind and body) to compete at such a high level for so long?

I have been extremely self-motivated from a very young age. I was disciplined and made social sacrifices, especially through my late teens and early twenties. When most of my friends were enjoying the freedom that many experience at that age, I had just secured my first global title and was hungry for more! I focused on my short and long-term goals, often using meditation to ensure I kept grounded and on track with what I had to do both mentally and physically. I ensured I had a healthy, balanced diet to enable my body to cope with the vigorous training regime. Training was tough, and I pushed my body to its limits, but there was always an immense feeling of satisfaction when I completed a gruelling session! I had a few disappointing setbacks with injuries during my career, these were character building. I surrounded myself with a great support network including the best coaches, doctors, physios and even psychologists to get me competition ready.

Can you talk a little about the 4 principles that you attribute to your success?

Passion: I think it’s important for everyone to really love what they do and do everything to the best of their abilities, no matter what career path you take. I loved what I was doing, and it helped me to be driven and keep improving by pushing to, and beyond, my limits.

Planning: As an Olympian a 4-year plan was critical. It was my responsibility to assemble a winning team around myself. Structuring macro and micro training cycles allowed my team to set KPIs that would assist in tracking my progress. It was amazing how attention to detail would produce very accurate results.

Dedication: The reality was that there were only three medals up for grabs every 4 years in my chosen event. I just reminded myself of that each and every day. I was consistent with my focus and it was almost like an obsession. I loved to win.

You can’t fluke a gold medal at an Olympic Games. I know many may say “Steven Bradbury” did just that, but what they haven’t taking into account is that he would have had to qualify to make the Olympic team first, then at the Olympic Games he would have had to get through the heats and semi-finals before ending up in the finals. Once in an Olympic final, it’s game on for everyone! The beauty of sport is anything can happen!

Consistency: I was never the best Triple jumper in the world, but what I was good at was performing when it mattered most. By being consistently at a high level it would only take a small adjustment for me to make significant improvement. This was an invaluable asset throughout my career.

During your athletic career you completed a degree in biomedical science, what was the impetus for this?

I had always loved the Sciences and looked up to my father who is a Doctor. This was the closest I would get to doing medicine as my athletic career at the time was my focus. I thoroughly enjoyed my degree and it was my best 3 years of education. At university I developed the skill of learning. Suddenly studying become exciting and not a chore.

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

My father's job with Overseas Development and Aid (ODA) took us to Zambia, but I attended boarding school in the UK from a very young age. First at Moreton Hall in Suffolk then Worth Abbey in Sussex. This is where I developed my love for sport.

Can you tell us a little about your work at the London Coaching Foundation and what you gained from that experience?

My role at the London Coaching Foundation was to deliver coaching sessions and mentoring to young kids in some of the toughest neighbourhoods in London. This experience was humbling, I realised just how lucky I was to have had the opportunities I had and the education I was given. I was passionate about giving something back to the community and I hopefully gave the young kids some inspiration. I learnt that patience is such an important skill to have, especially when dealing with young people.

Who do you most admire and how have they influenced your life/career

Throughout my life, I have admired a lot of different people;
My first gym teacher who told me at the age of 8 “you can go a long way with your sporting ability”;
My mum and dad for sacrificing so much for me and my siblings; My wife, as I still don’t know how she works full time and runs our family;
My coach of 19 years, Frank Attoh; a real mentor to me and still a great friend;
Nelson Mandela, who I bumped into at Johannesburg Airport many years ago;
and finally, President Barack Obama, as he set the bar so high, he gave us all a great benchmark to chase.

What, in your opinion, has been one of the biggest, brightest or best idea/s to come out of 2018?

One of the brightest ideas to come out of 2018 is wireless translating headphones. These headphones allow 2 people from different parts of the world, who speak different languages to communicate while keeping eye contact with each other. This has great implication for both social and business interactions. A better communicating world will hopefully lead to a more peaceful and understanding world!

What is your most precious possession

I don’t really have precious possessions, but my first global Gold medal was winning the World Junior Championships in 1994 and then my Commonwealth Gold medal was my first major Senior medal in 1998. These are both very special to me. My three children are ultimately my most prized possessions.

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