Liverpool celebrates Katarina Johnson-Thompson with a new mural | Other | Sport

The 30-metre by 10-metre artwork stands on Liverpool’s Dale Street, next to local favourite The Excelsior pub, a prime spot for passers-by. It shows her hurdling on the sports track, fuelled by words of encouragement such as ‘progress not perfection’ and ‘never give up’, after research of 2,000 adults found these phrases power people in achieving their goals.

Celebrated local artist Paul Curtis took three weeks to complete the piece commissioned by British Gas, forming part of its programme to drive positive change in local communities, promoting sustainable energy use and supporting communities through sport.

Speaking about the painting and what it depicts, Katarina Johnson-Thompson said: “The positive energy from my supporters has always spurred me on and inspired me, this celebratory mural in my hometown that brings this to life in such an impactful way is amazing to see.”

The mural comes as the study by British Gas showed 72% admit they have struggled to find the drive to get more active. With top barriers holding them back including a lack of motivation, fatigue, time constraints – or simply being stuck in a rut. Johnson-Thompson said: “Motivational words help to keep you going as an athlete.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have been surrounded by people in my career who have my back and who have given me so much positive encouragement to spur me on. Positive words of motivation from others improves your outlook – and could even better your performance.”

There to meet the heptathlete was a group of local children brought along by Liverpool Football Club Foundation, which provides life changing opportunities for young people and their families and for whom Johnson-Thompson is an ambassador.

This comes as 83% of those polled agree that it’s important to inspire and encourage children and young adults to take up a sport.The research also found that to keep motivated, one in four use the phrase ‘one day at a time’ to get active and stay on track. While 23% remind themselves that any progress is good progress, and 15% strive for progress, not perfection.

Those polled, via, said receiving words of encouragement is the most effective method of motivating someone (41%), followed by setting clear goals and being surrounded by a supportive environment (both 31%). However, respondents said the least effective methods of motivation were those based on fear (6%) and receiving brutal honesty – even if it’s not what you wanted to hear (12%).

Performance psychologist Katie Mobed, who has coached Olympic champions, educational leaders, and world record holders, added: “Any professional athlete will tell you that the support they get from the crowd gives them a huge boost. The most popular motivational phrases in the research are geared towards making physical activity more achievable and less daunting.

“This is an effective strategy because it speaks to the nature of the mind, which has not evolved to be wholly positive and confident. This negativity bias is why we feel the sting of criticism more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise.

“To get out of a rut or create new, positive habits around physical activity, we need to overcome this bias and tip the scales in favour of positive action. Breaking our goals down into small, achievable chunks really helps, and this is exactly why phrases like ‘progress not perfection’ help us to get active.”

Of the 38% of Brits who don’t do any form or exercise, 46% would like to take up walking, 22% swimming and 14% yoga. While 82% of all those polled – whether they exercised or not – said the hardest part about becoming active is simply getting started.

James Corcoran, from British Gas, said: “We all need the power of positivity – and our mural by the talented Paul Curtis is here to support Katarina Johnson-Thompson and inspire her hometown and its millions of visitors.

“We hope that the phrases proven to power positivity resonate with all generations in promoting self-belief and showing support for others in whatever they are looking to achieve.”

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