The monkey is off Shelly’s back

Great Britain's Shelly Woods
Great Britain's Shelly Woods
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ST ANNES wheelchair athlete Shelly Woods, one of the British heroines of the London Paralympics, is a convert to a form of psychology that has attracted growing number of famous sports personalities.

She is a follower of the teachings and theories propounded by Steve Peters, which have been willingly – and successfully – embraced by such Olympic luminaries as Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Bradley Wiggins.

When Shelly spoke this week of her feelings when things failed to go right for her in the track in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 metres, she told of the need, in her words, to ‘put the chimp back in the box’.

On the face of it, that sounds odd.

But what is this ‘monkey business’ all about?

According to the theories put forward by Peters, the human brain is part-human and part-chimp.

The chimp side, so Peters’ train of thought process goes, is the emotional, irrational side – the human segment is the evidence-based, rational side that utilises a sense of proper perspective and gives a balanced judgment.

Keeping the chimp in the box is getting rid of the negative, and that’s what Shelly determined in the run-up to the marathon, where she put previous disappointments on the track behind her and ended up winning a silver medal.

It may sound hard to take on board, but Shelly, and many other top sports men and women, feel it helps them enormously.

Tour De France winner and multi Olympic Games gold medallist Bradley Wiggins is another disciple and he has gone on record as saying: “You have to keep the chimp in the cage.

“Your chimp is your emotional side and in a pressure situation you have to react with logic, not emotion.”

Surely so many performers at the top of their game cannot be wrong...

Meantime, Shelly will be in action tomorrow in the Bupa Great North Run in South Shields, which will attract an estimated 55,000 serious and fun athletes.

Resisting any temptation to rest up after the Paralympics, Shelly bids for her fifth triumph in the famous North East race.

Mo Farah will join in the festivities, but not as a runner but as one of the honorary starters.

He will be joined in that role by rower Kat Copeland, long jumper Greg Rutherford, boxer Nicola Adams, and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds.

Farah, who won gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m in the London Olympics, said: “I’m sorry not to be able to take part in the Bupa Great North Run but the last few weeks have taken their toll and it would be disrespectful to take on the distance without the necessary hard training.”

He said he was looking forward to “high-fiving as many people as possible” at the start of the race.

Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie, who won the BBC-televised event in 2010, is out through injury.

One of the runners taking part is a woman who has shed 10 stone.

That’s not just getting a monkey off your back, more like an orang-utan....