One year to Rio: Sky Academy Sports Scholarships boss Tony Lester says you need to be cool and lucky at Olympics

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Thousands of talented athletes on this planet get up in the dark and push their body to the limit, all busting a gut to be at the Rio Olympics which start in 12 months.

Eleven of these are Sky Academy Sports Scholars (the 12th Elise Christie earns her corn on the ice). Some have a good chance, some have it all to do, runner Mark English has already got the qualifying mark.

The clock is ticking. The nerves and doubts swirling inside them. Tony Lester is the perfect man to keep them calm and on track having been in the army and guided runners Roger Black, Marlon Devonish and Abi Oyepitan to Olympic greatness.

The head of Scholarships has smelt this fear before and reignited quivering athletes many times. There may be more trousers and shirts than tracksuits and shiny boots in his wardrobe these days, but the passion to help the Scholars fulfil their potential and repay the faith shown by his Sky bosses burns deep.

Here are Tonyís words on why talent isnít always the secret to success, why he likes his athletes chilling in the heat of competition and why gold is not his top target in Brazil.

Itís not about winning medals, itís making that journey come to life for these people. When you coach, youíre fully into every day of their lives Ė plans, strategy, training sessions. Youíre living it every step of the way. In my job you are removed from it.

Being head of the Academy Scholarship scheme is all very well but you canít control the outcome of what the athletes do. Itís like being a coach. Once they cross the line into the arena you can bark and shout but you canít change the outcome. All you can be is an Ďuber mentorí. Itís up to the athlete to deliver.

They talk to me about lots of things, like having a tough time with their coach, but you donít meddle with that. They have to work it out. Their coach is the one person you have to put your trust and belief in. You always have to give them a positive message. Iím very aware of being the front person for the brand and if I give bad advice then itís going to come back in a very negative way. I have to be the old man of the programme!

Itís been a great journey so far. When I started in February 2013 it was a blank canvas. Sourcing the talented athletes was a big mission. Once it all came together, to see the whole thing grow to where we are now gives me huge warmth and pleasure.

Itís been my baby. I donít have a colossal budget and I draw on other resources within the business to help make things happen. People like Barney Francis (Sky Sports Managing Director) and other Sky Executives have supported it wholeheartedly and that makes running the programme much easier. The internal support network at Sky is incredible. In other industries or businesses, they may dismiss this because itís sport. The Scholarships is a great story and itís real!

Iím not feeling any extra pressure though. Iím just very excited. For every athlete and coach in an Olympic cycle, itís a great time. Itís a culmination of four years of hard work and coming together all at the right time. An Olympics is never a negative experience.

Most athletes put themselves under a lot of pressure and some think theyíve trained hard so theyíve got a right of passage. Roger Black (double 400m silver medallist at 1996 Atlanta) said talent is good but you also need luck.

The Olympic cycle is one month in four years and you might have loads of luck and go to the Worlds, Europeans, Commonwealth Games and do wonderful things and you think youíre on track. Two months from the Olympics you get injured and youíre playing catch-up, or you get a cold in the Olympic village and you under-perform Ė it happens.

Look at the Barcelona 1992 Games. Nike had massive ad campaigns with athletes like Michael Johnson, pole-vaulter Sergey Bubka and decathlete Dan Obrien. These guys were all bang on for gold but got nothing because it wasnít their time. Luck was needed. You have to be healthy and need many things as well as talent.

My best Olympics memory involved one of my sprinters who had a slice of luck in 2004 at Athens. The British team werenít doing well in track and field. Marlon Devonish had missed out in the trials and travelled to the holding camp in Cyprus as a reserve but he was getting faster and faster in training and I thought Ďif he was competing now heíd be in the mixí.

Christian Malcom then got sent home with a kidney infection and Marlon was elevated to the relay team with Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell and Mark Lewis-Francis. They beat hot favourites USA by 0.01s to win gold in the 4x100m relay. That was impressive and a relay medal is as good as any other medal.

Another favourite memory involves another of my runners Abi Oyepitan. She was not ranked at all in 2004 and not on the radar for the Olympics to do big things. She performed out of her skin and made the 200m final and became the second fastest British woman in history in that event behind Kathy Cook.

With a year to go until Rio, my advice to my 12 athletes is keep your focus, believe in what youíre doing, listen to your coach and donít do anything too different because you are already that good. When you try to make dramatic changes you mess things up. Michael Johnsonís coach Clyde Hart once told me they never changed the script, although they did occasionally have to tone down training for fear of over-cooking.

Most young athletes can do this. Sometimes a coach can over-cook it because they get excited. They may see a performance in training and think Ďwowí. A world performance time in training is great but thereís no pressure. The minute you walk into the arena and the crowd are screaming your name and applauding, then thatís pressure. Great athletes contain that and that comes from experience.

Every athlete on the programme has a different personality trait. I know them all quite well now but you have to just figure that all out. If they are highly strung and hyper then they need to be calm. If they are super chilled out then you need to find why that is. Some athletes internalise and contain that excitement. I like the chilled ones because they can contain that excitement and measure it. If an athlete is excitable, the hype and everything around you can suck you in and it will smother you. The key thing is not to change anything too dramatically because that can destroy you.

Over the next 12 months one of the most important things we need to do is show Sky are doing something pretty magnificent for sport. No other organisation does anything like this. We support these athletes wholeheartedly financially and mentally. Itís a brilliant thing we are involved in.

If any of my athletes were at the airport in 12 months calling for last-minute advice Iíd say thisÖBe the best you can be Ė thatís all you can do. You canít give it any more, you canít give it any less. Just be the best you can be because that might just be good enough.