Spirited viewers, welcome to today’s episode of Vegetarian Elite. We are about to meet two young, very accomplished Canadian athletes who will share their personal stories of their outstanding achievements in their respective sports, and most importantly, how a plant-based diet helped them to achieve such great athletic triumphs.

Allow us to introduce to you Jessica Sedlock. At age 21, Jessica is an adventurous, successful Canadian athlete and aspiring 2012 Olympian. She is a distance runner, power coach, and advocate for plant-based nutrition. Some of the highlights in her biathlon career include a silver medal at the Canada Winter Games in 2007, three national titles in 2008, and overall North American Junior champion in 2009. She has recently retired from the biathlon sport and is now focused on distance running for the 2012 Olympics and changing the way the world eats. She is a vegan on the go!

Now let’s meet Sven Winter, a 21-year-old Canadian athlete with a passion for ski cross racing who has already achieved much in his field. He ranked second at the Canadian Nationals and finished third on the North American Cup Tour. In addition to being British Columbia’s Ski Cross Athlete of the Year for 2009, Sven has also been placed in Canada’s Top 10 and ranked 14th in the world for his age. His lifelong dream is to compete and win at the Olympics. And very interestingly, Sven grew up as a vegetarian. Our guest athletes share with us the recipes for their success.

Well, it’s very simple. It comes down to a lot, a lot of hard work. Myself personally, I was never a gifted athlete, I was never a talented athlete; I just kept going. I just kept focused on my dream and just kept going, and then these things pop up I guess.

I’ve been in sports my whole life, and I love sports, absolutely love. So, yes it is a lot of hard work, but when you love it, it’s so much different. It just has such a different meaning. So, to really have a passion for what you do, I think will ultimately lead to success.

So, love of the sport, drive, and hard work are the key elements, but what distinguishes Jessica and Sven from many other athletes? What makes them truly successful in their field? We asked the good friends to comment on each other’s strengths. Sven had this to say about Jessica.

She trains harder than any other athlete I’ve ever met. More hours, earlier hours, longer hours. That will eventually lead to success if you keep going. ( Yeah.) So, I’d say that’s a major factor.

Well for Sven, I would have to say confidence and self-belief. Despite the culture, despite what is surrounding him, it’s ultimately, “This is my goal and I will get there no matter what.”

As we talked with these two delightful and enthusiastic athletes, it became very clear that a plant-based diet has played an important part in their sports achievements. Sven is a lifelong vegetarian, and Jessica is vegan. What kind of benefits do they get from their plant-based diets regarding training and competitions?

Far better for your recovery. For example, the year that I went vegan was the year that I was Junior Champion in all of North America, so that proves right there. I was traveling all over Europe that year with a team of eight people – six of us were sick and two of us were not, and I was one of them. It goes to show that you stay a lot healthier too, which is part of an athlete’s game for sure, is staying healthy. Yeah, it just seems to support all aspects of sport, but even for people that just want to be healthy.

I noticed right on, right when I was 15, really getting into the regional, national, international competitions, I realized at that point that my recovery time was much shorter than my teammates, so I was able to train longer, train harder, and train more. And that lead me over the next 4 years to get two “Most Improved” awards.

How about focus? I’m curious about some of the other aspects of being a veggie-athlete. What else would it support you in?

If you’re so tired that you can’t focus on your training, then you need to look at what your nutrition is. You need to look at where your energy is coming from.

I know that the mental focus I have when I step into a race, is absolute. Like cell phone off, no outside distractions, (Yeah.) anything anybody says to me other than my coach who is the only person I listen to at that point, everything else just doesn’t even touch my space.

And what does the plant-based diet of the champions consist of?

For me, it’s just emphasis on whole food, emphasis on fresh and getting as many fruits and veggies as I can fit in, or as I can pick up wherever I am in the world. Something with a whole grain, as little processing as possible, (Okay.) and as much as possible. Quinoa every morning, quinoa or oatmeal every morning. (Morning. Okay.) And everything goes from there.

Eat what gives you energy and not what takes it. Really learn your body, because everyone is a little bit different. I, from experience, have found the vegan diet is certainly the best beyond, but maybe bananas don’t work for everyone, right? Ultimately, what makes you feel good and what gives you the most energy.

As we have seen, an animal-free diet certainly takes you to remarkable levels of achievement. How about certain roadblocks that athletes might encounter in training or competition? What tips do Jessica and Sven have for overcoming them?

The mental aspect of sport is so huge. And so, by being able to focus on positive things in your race, and how you want to feel, you’ll be able to overcome anything, any pain that you’re experiencing, only focusing on the positive. With my running, if I tire, my coach says, “Your head, your head is going.” Think about the things that you want to do as opposed to the things that you’re experiencing, or the pain that you’re experiencing.

Jessica also highlights how important it is to believe in yourself and where you can get the strength for this.

Well, losing belief in yourself is losing belief in God, so you just need to come back to it and realize that inside you is God and it doesn’t matter what anyone says. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, it only matters what you think.

Because it is paramount for athletes at this level to have a tremendous ability to concentrate, would meditation help to achieve this?

For me, meditation very much brings me back to myself. And if you’re yourself, you have unlimited amount of belief.

What I do right before I step into a start-gate or do a difficult training exercise, you could kind of look at it like a meditation because I silence everything out and it’s just a quick physical cue that I use a pair of them. You could call it meditation.

How about their goals in the sports field in general? What is it that these two remarkable young athletes seek to achieve?

My goal is very simple: 1.) Win the Olympics. 2.) Empower others to achieve what I’ve accomplished and more. Leading by example is the strongest way to lead. So if I can get to that level and win the Olympics, I’ll be able to empower so many other people, the entire next generation and my generation to achieve greatness.

Along with their sports careers, Jessica and Sven are also active environmentalists. They travel to schools and talk with teachers and students about climate change, environmental issues, and how a plant-based diet is the major solution to global warming. Jessica tells us about “Clean Air Champions,” a Canadian charity, and her involvement in it.

Clean Air Champions is represented by 150 national and Olympic team athletes from across Canada. And the goal is to raise awareness about global warming, and then introduce the schools to different programs. I am working at the moment in getting a program put together for veganism, because I think that would be such a great addition to the number of programs that Clean Air Champions offers. And so the goal of this program is really just to inspire kids to up their activity level and also think about more sustainable things that they can be doing for the environment.

At the end of the interview, Sven and Jessica were happy to show us some medals and trophies from their most memorable sporting events.

This is what I got at Canadian nationals three weeks ago, second place. Very proud of it. It’s a huge accomplishment, great step up, but it’s just the beginning. It’s just for me to show that hard work pays off, and so it’s nice to stand on the podium after a lot of hard work.

This one here, I just picked up this weekend. I was the BC [British Columbia, Canada] Ski Cross Athlete of the Year. So it is the second year in a row, I received this trophy. This here, this was from the North American Cup Tour. There were five races for the North American Cup this year. This is the first year we had North American Cup Finals, and I came third on the overall.

And then it was Jessica’s turn.

There are walls of them. Walls!

No, that’s not true.

That’s not true. So, starting with the earliest one: Well, this medal I got in 2007 at Canada Winter Games, and this is a Games that comes every two years in Canada, it’s basically like the Olympics for Canada. And I was really excited to go because I was the youngest person on the team at this point, and I qualified. So I was racing the senior girls and I actually came out with a silver medal. These are all biathlon. (Okay.)

And then shortly after getting this medal, I got this award from Gordon Campbell, and it’s a Premier’s Athletic Awards. It just says “Presented to Jessica Sedlock, in recognition of your outstanding athletic achievement during the sport of Biathlon in 2007.”

So, next we have this medal, this is National Championships last year, which was the last year that I completed in biathlon, so 2009 silver medal. This is all the American Biathletes as well as Canadians, and this is silver medal. This was the North American Cup Series all gold medal. And then, this was actually when I was the overall 2009 North American Championships I got this one. So that was Fastest Junior in North America for 2009 overall.

Truly remarkable achievements! We want to express our gratefulness to these two accomplished and kind-hearted individuals for their shining examples of determination and elevated ideals. We are also thankful to them for sharing with us their experiences and the numerous benefits of a plant-based diet, the diet of champs!

I hope I’ve been an inspiration and can inspire you to achieve whatever is that you want to achieve because it’s possible as long as, as long as you commit to it.

If everyone does their part, then we all come together as one, and can be in such an amazing environment. (Yes.) So it starts with changing yourself, changing your beliefs, becoming what you want to be. And in doing that, everything will be interconnected and perfect and as it should be.

Learn more about the Plant-powered Olympic Hopefuls Jessica Sedlock & Sven Winters at www.SoulRunner.ca and www.SendSven2010.com

Health-conscious viewers, we appreciate your company today on Vegetarian Elite. Coming up now is Between Master and Disciples, here on Supreme Master Television. May your lives be graced with abundant wellbeing and a loving, cheerful spirit.

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