Ruthlessness and manipulation are essential traits for a successful athlete.

Athletes need to be ruthless if they want success

Athletes need to be ruthless if they want success

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University investigated the personalities and relationship quality of over 300 elite athletes - including swimmers, cyclists and triathletes - and their coaches and found that they had to display "malevolent" tendencies to come out on top in their chosen discipline.

Lead author Joseph Stanford said: "Specific characteristics considered malevolent in social settings are highly relevant in performance sport.

"High-performance environments can often attract people who feel superior, are ruthless in the pursuit of winning and have a heightened belief they can influence others for their own success."

He continued: "It is important to have a positive coach-athlete relationship in order to achieve success.

"To win, athletes and coaches must perform together under high pressure, often in demanding and stressful situations.

"Our findings suggest we need to consider how personalities are likely to interact together in the sporting arena.

"Additional support for coaches would also allow them to understand how to create effective high-performance relationships."