60 Seconds With

“We recognise the small wins on the way to the bigger ones,” — 60 Seconds With Eoin Rheinisch of Sport Ireland Institute

By Business & Finance
04 July 2023

Eoin Rheinisch is Head of Performance Life Skills at Sport Ireland Institute. Sport Ireland Institute was set-up to create an environment which influences, supports and ensures that talented Irish athletes will achieve sustained levels of excellence in elite sport. Rheinisch is a three time Irish Olympian, and is also currently the Senior Coach for Canoe Slalom in Ireland. 

What was your first job?

During school holidays I used to work in a warehouse packing boxes, sweeping floors and doing whatever odd jobs needed to be done. In college, I was a part time postman during the busy Christmas periods. It all helped me get some extra money together to buy equipment or fund my canoeing trips abroad.

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

When I was retiring from my own competitive sporting career I received a huge amount of support from what was known then as the Irish Institute of Sport, and in particular the Life Skills Team. They really helped me to navigate my next steps which was a daunting prospect at the time.

Through career coaching I was given the time and space to explore options for what could come next including the idea of being a coach to the next generation. This experience of being guided through a really challenging period inspired me to get involved and use my experience to help future athletes prepare for life after competitive sport.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Qualifying for my 1st Olympic Games was very special. I had chased that dream for over eight years and the whole selection process was brutal and filled with pressure for months. So many people supported and believed in me during those eight years that when I finally made it was an incredible feeling and also a huge relief.

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

If I could go back, I would have probably studied some more areas that I was interested in during my canoeing career.

There was a few years after I had finished my degree where I was a completely full time athlete which was fine when things were going well. But during that same period I had a very serious shoulder injury, and not having a focus outside of sport made it all the more difficult to get through that year after surgery.

In hindsight, I could have struck a better balance and found some more opportunities to develop myself further and have a positive distraction outside of sport.

In one sentence, how would you define success?

A life with quality time to share with loved ones and the health, support and luck to be able to chase down goals and feel like there is a purpose and bigger picture to our every day.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My Dad used to always say “Your health is the most important thing.” While I know there is a huge degree of good fortune involved in leading a healthy life, there is also some low hanging fruit which most people can go after.

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I am lucky to lead a small but brilliant team, and as a group we recognise the small wins on the way to the bigger ones.

I think it is really important to take the opportunity, face to face, to let your team know just how much you value them, their work, ideas and commitment. Motivation to keep going when things get tough personally or in a work context is really boosted when you feel supported by one another, and I think we have that.

A team night out every once in a while has been a really nice way to celebrate our team and remind ourselves we have great people around us.

How do you handle adversity?

A few different ways have helped me over the years. It is not always an easy thing to do but trying to pause and fully understand the situation makes it more likely that I will respond rather than just react. Sharing the problem with people I trust, and getting their perspective and advice always helps despite the fact that I can be a bit slow to do this at times.

I have always liked the phrase “this too shall pass”, as it reminds me that most adversity is temporary and at some point in the future we often realise that it was smaller than we thought in the grand scheme of things and maybe even an important part of our development.

How do you relax?

I love getting outside for some exercise, and whether it’s a cycle or a run, I find it really clears my head. Watching a good movie or tv series on the weekend with my wife on the rare occasions that our 3-year-old daughter and 4-month old son are both asleep at the same time is now a luxury that can feel like winning the lottery.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

To grow our team’s capacity so that we can work with more athletes earlier in their pathway to elite level sport. We want to be a staple part of every Irish Olympic and Paralympic athlete’s sporting journey, starting from a young age and acting like a “Tripadvisor” as they navigate through their sporting careers, and come out the other side.

As a team we have achieved a lot in the last few years, and in the simplest terms, we want more athletes in retirement that are content with their past and excited by their futures.

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