Olympian and world renowned sport scientist, Greg Whyte was appointed OBE in the 2014 New Years Honours for his services to sport, sport science and charity.
How did it all begin?
When I was an athlete there was no money at all. Lottery funding didn’t exist, my sport modern pentathlon had no money in it, so it was either you worked or you studied. I needed to be doing effectively about 35 hours per week of training – I was never going to work, so I studied!
I did an undergrad in London, I went and did a postgrad in the US, came back and did my PHD at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London and from there amongst other things I became the director of research for the British Olympic Association, so having been an olympian, I then went on to prepare the Team GB Olympic team for 5 olympic games – all the worlds collided basically by serendipity!
Tell us about your own life as an athlete
I was training, studying and competing at the same time – that’s what you did at the time. I started off as a swimmer when I was six and my dad was a great athlete, he was a boxer, my mum was into sport, my brother was an international shot put and hammer thrower – I was around a real culture of sport and thats how I got involved. Fortunately I had the right environment and I happened to be good. I was a world championship sliver medalist and a european bronze medalist so I had a great life as an athlete, much to do with not only my ability, but the environment in which I was brought up – it was the perfect storm for me.
How did you become involved in Sport Relief?
Sport Relief was literally a chance occurrence – David Walliams back in 2005 had said to the chief executive of Comic Relief, Kevin Cahill, that he would be prepared to swim the English Channel and Kevin, in searching for somebody who could actually train him to do it, came across me through a friend of mine. David came to me, he was successful, raised £1m and the rest is history in the sense that I’ve now worked on 22 major projects with Sport Relief.
What does the Harley Street area represent for you?
Obviously I’m an exercise physiologist and sport scientist which is actually an alien concept on Harley Street – there aren’t many of us here! Sports science is such a new discipline, it’s only been about in the UK for the past two decades. Exercise science, which is now really starting to grow and gain its place within medicine, is also still a very new discipline. So, to some extent it wasn’t necessarily the draw of Harley Street itself, but having said that everybody knows Harley Street. It is a truly iconic place to be – I can go to any country in the world and tell them that I have a clinic on Harley Street and they all know what I’m talking about!
Tell us about the Centre for Health and Human Performance
We have a very unique USP at the Centre for Health & Human Performance – our raison d’etre is really to improve quality of life and we do that through a whole host of different guises, whether it’s through complex medicine with Dr Jack Kreindler, whether it’s through sport and exercise medicine through Dr Mike Loosemore and physiotherapist James Moore or whether it’s through my area which is human performance – the role of exercise and physical activity in enhancing performance. Not only is it multidisciplinary but it’s also interdisciplinary – we truly do draw upon each others expertise to optimise the experience of the client. Because of that our client breadth is really unique – we work with celebrities, professional athletes and Olympic Gold Medallists all the way through to cancer sufferers (working closely with the London Oncology Centre), people who are morbidly obese, sufferers of pulmonary disease – it’s a real mix.
Talk to us about Marylebone
I love Marylebone, and I’m not just saying that! It’s probably one of the best places in London. It’s vibrant, has culture, cafes, restaurants, fantastic shopping and for some reason it’s really close to all of the tourist hotspots but it never seems to be invaded by tourists! For me Marylebone brings that beautiful balance of a wonderful atmosphere, real ability to access whatever you need but in a really friendly, local environment. It feels like a village which is a real asset. When I walk into Patisserie Valerie not only do they know my name, they know my favourite seat and what I’m going to drink which is always a bit of a worry! If I was to live in London, I’d probably live in Marylebone.
Centre for Health & Human Performance
76 Harley Street