Welcome to the first of our new athlete features: the INSIDE VIEW, where we’ll catch up with some of Team England’s finest athletes to get the lowdown on what it takes to be a pro. Nutrition, training, hobbies and gossip from the inside.
Kicking us off: GB basketballer Azania Stewart.
At just 16 she left home for America to embark on a basketball scholarship at a US high school. Once she graduated from Florida, Azania Stewart returned home to rightly claim her spot to play for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics.
She’s since been announced Captain of the GB squad, an accolade she describes as a ‘total honour’.
We caught up with Azania to get the inside view on her training and nutrition…
The summer months are known as ‘off-season’, going into ‘pre-season’ for Azania and her teammates. Now that we’re into September, things will be ramping up, with training sessions taking place six days a week.
A normal training day for the GB basketball squad looks like this:
Session 1: Weights 90mins
Session 2: Practice shooting 90mins
Session 3: Evening basket ball session 2-2.5hrs
“It’s quite a full packed day, obviously you’ve got to get food in and also a nap to be ready for the second practice,” Azania told us.
Napping is a must. A nap is definitely key because if you’ve got two training sessions and you want to give 100% you’ve got to get your rest in.
Food is really vital too. I eat three large meals, two snacks and a smaller snack of fruit or a bar. You need to eat quite a lot if you’re on court for a long time”
A firm believer in balance, but dedication where it matters, Azania shared how she really learned the value of good nutrition to perform at her best.
“Getting ready for London 2012 was when I really learnt how to eat properly. You have to be taught. You think a bowl of cereal is good for you but it’s not.
The last two years I ate clean and cut out sweets and alcohol, and now, I still try and stick to it but it’s been summer and everyone’s having BBQs and cakes. I do allow myself treats, I just can’t indulge.
With the amount of hours’ [training] and calories we’re burning, you’ve just got to be smart because obviously you’ve got two sessions in a day and another two the day after so you need to eat good food and be hydrated for the next day.”
Breakfast of champions
So what does a typical breakfast look like for a professional basketball player?
5 boiled egg whites with ketchup
“I’ll also have a snack just before going on court – a fruit or bar, something that’ll give me energy and sustain me.”
Tales from the team
Having played basketball from a very young age and been part of many teams, Azania knows only too well the importance of a strong bond within the squad to get results on the court.
This is her fifth year as a professional player, and she thanks basketball for giving her lots of great experiences in her life.
“My best memories and all of my best friends have come from being in a team or who I’ve met through travelling, and I would’ve never experienced that if it wasn’t for basketball.
It’s a sisterhood. We honestly have no dramas on our team, just because we really know each other and are like family. We have a great team where everyone’s there to help each other and make it happen.
We’re like sisters – that’s our strong point – we’re fully committed and really trust each other.”
Keep up to date with all things GB Basketball on their website and follow Azania on Twitter at @azania13.