UK and Olympic Champion Joe Clarke’s rise to fame has been quite remarkable. As a relative unknown two years ago outside of the canoeing world, his victory in Rio in 2016 to earn Team GB’s first gold medal not only helped the squad on their way to a record haul but also shone a much-needed spotlight on one of the most exciting sports at the Games.
Since then, Joe has not only continued to represent his country in the men’s kayak singles (K1), he has even appeared on Strictly Come Dancing.
As one of Mammoth’s early adopters, Joe has slept on our mattresses for more than four years. When Joe recently moved house he decided it was time to update to one of the latest Mammoth models – and we were only too happy to help him again.
We took the opportunity to catch up with Joe for a chat and see how things have changed in the time that he has been sleeping on a Mammoth. We talked to him about the long road to success on the biggest stage.
Here he is in his own words…
I got into elite sport by chance really. I was always very sporty growing up but never particularly “elite” at anything. I tried canoeing and absolutely loved it and progressed through the divisions very quickly. Before I knew it, I was representing Great Britain on the junior team. Really, it has all spiralled from there.
Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to win 4 UK Championships, a World Cup silver and, of course, gold at Rio 2016. It’s been an incredible journey for me, but that success has come from a lot of hard work.
A typical day for me would involve multiple training sessions. I’ll be out on the water in the morning and again in the afternoon. I also have to make sure I get in plenty of weight sessions in the gym and go for regular runs to keep my aerobic fitness levels high.
Performing on the biggest stage
Sitting on the start line at an Olympic Games is a very surreal experience. The crowd was much bigger than I’d ever experienced before and the media attention before was just as big! But strangely I felt really calm and collected and ready to go about my business as I had done in training. I saw it as an opportunity to show the world how good I am and to enjoy the experience – it’s something that’s so unique and I wanted to embrace every second.
I still struggle to put it into words what it was like to win a gold medal. I was in shock and couldn’t quite believe it was happening to me. It’s something that I had allowed myself to dream about beforehand but you never really think it could become a reality. I’d actually done it; I was Olympic champion! It still makes the hairs stick up on my arms now!
How life has changed and the future
My life has changed significantly over the last 12 months. When I go back to my hometown I started to find that I was being recognised by lots of people and they were all showing lots of support and respect, which is lovely. I believe it’s put canoeing more in the limelight, which is absolutely fantastic. Collecting an MBE for services to canoeing was an absolute honour and something that I never expected to happen.
What next? My eyes are clearly set on trying to repeat my Rio success in Tokyo. Nobody in my category in the sport has ever won 2 Olympic gold medals so that’s my motivation. Before then there are World and European championships and World Cup events to focus on. I hope to use these opportunities to gain more experience and build my medal count and consistency.
Sleep and me
I think rest and recovery is every bit as important as the training. When I’ve had a bad night’s sleep I can really notice the difference when I’m training the following day. My energy levels are lower, which reduces my power output, but the biggest thing I notice is a difference in is my mood. When I haven’t had a good night’s sleep to recover, I have to work much harder to focus on training and staying in the zone.
I try to aim for 9 hours per night in general. This means going to sleep early but if I don’t get at least 8 hours’ sleep my training quality is hindered. I struggle to deal with fatigue, so that’s why I try to get a good block of sleep each evening.
When I’m away at a training camp or competing around the world, maintaining my sleep pattern can be hard. I think it’s essential to take your own pillows. Ideally you’d take your own mattress too but that just isn’t realistic. Pillows can vary so much and without my own pillow I struggle to get comfortable. This impacts on my sleep quality . . . which impacts on my training and racing quality. I like it to be warm and cosy to try and replicate that feeling of my own bed at home.
I found out about Mammoth through the British Athletes Commission and what attracted me to the brand was a company that shared the same passion for sleep as I do. When I read more about the company and reviews it was a no brainer that I needed to try one. Once I’d test driven a floor model I knew there was no turning back and I’ve been having a solid 9 hours every night since.
I just know when I get into bed I’m going to be comfortable, it’s firm enough to give me the necessary support but not too stiff. It’s perfect for what I need after a hard day of training to help me recover. I notice the biggest difference when I sleep on a different mattress as it takes me a lot longer to get settled and softer mattresses leave me with a stiff lower back after a few hours.
I owned one of the first Mammoth mattresses, when I bought it I think there were only 3 in the range. Since then it’s clear the brand has gone from strength to strength and the range has grown massively. I have now got the SuperSoft 270, which I absolutely love, and I look forward to getting into bed every evening!
Joe Clarke purchased his SuperSoft 270 from Alan Ward in Shrewsbury.