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Two-time Olympian and table tennis star Matthew Syed to speak at Abertay

1 March 2016

The two-time Olympian and award-winning sports writer Matthew Syed will deliver the Dundee Academy of Sport’s Spring Lecture on Thursday 3 March.

Entitled ‘Spring Bounce’, the talk will draw upon Syed’s own experiences as well as examples from a range of different disciplines which help to explain the science behind success and the mindset and culture that support it.

As Britain’s number one table tennis player for much of the 1990s, Syed was expected to gain a medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

However, he choked under the pressure and failed to meet expectations.

Searching for the reasons why, he has since written two hugely successful books on the subject of achievement and missing the mark.

In his most recent, ‘Black Box Thinking: the Surprising Truth About Success’, he looks at the importance of learning from mistakes, explaining that the key to success is a positive attitude to failure.

However, in his first – ‘Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice’ – he discusses the idea that it is not just talent which leads someone to the top of their game, but hard work and opportunity as well.

In his talk at the Dundee Academy of Sport, Syed will discuss these ideas in more detail, giving examples from his own life as well as explaining how case studies from different industries can be adapted to different disciplines and put into practice right here in Dundee.

Alan Clark – Project Officer at the Dundee Academy of Sport – explains:

“At the Dundee Academy of Sport, one of our main aims – alongside using sport to engage young people in their education – is to develop the region’s workforce through providing training and continuing professional development opportunities to those working in the sport and leisure industry.

“Our focus this year is ‘growth mindset’, which is the idea that even people’s most basic abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. Matthew Syed as an elite athlete embodied hard work and determination and his experiences at the very highest level give him an unique perspective on not only what it is to fail, but also what it takes to learn from mistakes. He uses his own experience in sport, coupled with the latest thinking around mindset and learning from mistakes to give some excellent insight into how we can all view failure.

“What Matthew Syed speaks about fits perfectly with the work we do at the Dundee Academy of Sport. We work with pupils, staff and students every day who are inspired by sport to further their own learning. Many face substantial barriers and we all make mistakes along the way. Hopefully those who attend will take away some new ideas that they can put into practice in their work as young people, students, teachers, coaches and volunteers.”

Over 300 people have already registered for ‘Spring Bounce’, but a few tickets are still available for this free event. Please register your interest on Eventbrite.

The lecture will take place in the Main Lecture Theatre at Abertay University and begins at 16:45.

To find out more about The Dundee Academy of Sport please visit their website or follow @DunAcadofSport on Twitter.


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

Notes to Editors:

The Dundee Academy of Sport was launched in January 2014, and is a partnership between Abertay University and Dundee & Angus College.

The project is supported by the Scottish Funding Council.

It has three main aims:

  • to engage young people in their wider education by bringing subjects like history and maths to life through sport - either through their participation in sport or their interest in it. The intention is to widen and increase school attainment levels.
  • to further develop the region’s workforce in the sport and leisure industry by working with local communities to offer training and development opportunities for sports teachers and professionals, as well as volunteers.
  • to be Scotland’s leading provider of sports education and research by providing seamless transition from school-leaver right up to PhD level.
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