Hi, my name is Ian Wiley, and I am the Account Director with BT Ireland. I manage a number of Global MNC customers providing services from across the entire BT portfolio. I have always lived in the Dublin area – I am a born and bred Dub having grown up in Chapelizod. I currently live in Stepaside in the south side of the city.
Before my technology career took off, I was a European and World Champion slalom canoeist, and represented Ireland on the Olympic Canoe team in 1992 (Barcelona), 1996 (Atlanta), and 2000 (Sydney). My first job, Cara Computers, actually sponsored me through the nineties in my canoeing career. When I retired after the Sydney Olympics, I started working with Cara fulltime. I enjoy the sales process and delivering a solution that improves how my customers run their business.
My family moved to Chapelizod when I was about 8 or 9, and we lived right beside the river. There was a local canoe club near us, and it all started from there. It is hard to say exactly what it was, but I used to just love being in a canoe and floating on the water. Before I joined canoe club I used to persuade one of the guys there to let me have a go in his canoe. At the time I was a really bad swimmer, so it was probably a stroke of luck that I did not capsize and drown in those early months.
Canoeing is a very technical event, and it requires a very high skill level that takes years and years to develop. It is very exciting on the wild water and the margins of error can be very tight. The top ten positions can be separated by 2 seconds.
The Olympics is just bigger and better than any other event. It really is a magical experience that I was very fortunate to experience three times. We have a saying in our sport that the Olympics are for the people, and the World Championships are for the Athletes. In some ways it is very true. The Olympics only comes around once every 4 years, where as the world cup series happens every year, over a number of races, so you need to be consistently good to win it. However, the pressure of an Olympics is greater because in some ways your sport is getting a lot more media attention than other years.
Now-a-days canoeing for me is just for fun. I also go the gym, and I generally keep active. It is good for the mind, body and soul to work up a sweat. It also most definitely relieves stress. I think any outlet away from your professional life is a good thing. It keeps the boredom away and gets you out in the fresh air, which is always a good thing. It allows you to recharge the batteries.
As a former Olympic Athlete there are certain skills that you take for granted in preparation for big events that slip into my work life seamlessly. Such things as forward planning, focus, determination, passion and confidence are all important in both my career and when I was training for the Olympics.
When I retired in 2000 I was double jobbing. I was working in Cara and working as the national coach for a short period. But it became too much to handle so I gave up the coaching position. Every now and then I help out coaching with the National Junior squad.
I do still canoe, but not as much as I would like. The only advice I would give is that if you are passionate about your sport, and you have some talent, you will make it happen. Hard work is not hard work when you are passionate about it. So believe in your own ability and work your ass off to achieve your goals.