PA Photos/Landov
Simon Perry
November 12, 2014 01:45 PM

Sports enthusiast Princess Kate has excitedly cheered on athletes at the 2012 Olympics, wowed in white while supporting Andy Murray at Wimbledon and played volleyball wearing sky-high wedge heels.

But, it was a different love of sports that drew Kate, 32, to a workshop Wednesday, where she met the sports stars of tomorrow.

Kate, who is about 16 weeks pregnant, attended the workshop run by one of the charities she supports, SportsAid – which provides young athletes with cash awards during the defining early years of their careers – at the GSK Human Performance Lab in Brentford, West London.

The royal, who has been suffering from severe pregnancy sickness, wore a plum dress by Goat over her tiny baby bump. She paired it with opaque black tights and knee-high elasticated black boots.

After being greeted by Olympic swimmer Keri-Anne Payne and wheelchair athlete David Weir CBE, Kate met the athletes – many of whom are targeting the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 – and took part in a cognitive test that was among several programs that put the athletes through their paces during the all-day event.

Kate had been frustrated at not being able to join in much during the visit, but when they got to the test of mental agility, she was asked to try. “Finally, something I can do while I am pregnant!” Kate said.

Kate was given four tests of increasing difficulty by neuroscientist Barry O’Neill, which involved her tapping colored circles on a large screen.

But she pulled a mock grimace when she was told that top sportsmen – Formula One driver Jenson Button and British triathletes the Brownlee brothers – had recently tried it.

“Hmmmm,” she said, “no pressure then!”

O’Neill, 34, told reporters afterwards, “She actually did very well for a woman of her age. I’m not being rude, I must stress, but your reflexes do decrease every decade you age.”

He continued: “Until now, sports science has concentrated on what we call a headless approach. Concentrate on the body and leave the mind to somewhere else. We are trying to change that here.”

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“It’s remarkable that people haven’t really thought before of working the mind and body as one,” remarked Kate. “This could be used in so many environments, even in an office. It is absolutely fascinating.”

Data from some of the advanced performance tests (including one in an environmental chamber set up to match the heat and humidity of Tokyo) will be given to the athletes’ coaches to help inform their training and competition programs.

When she saw the test that had the oppressive heat of what the athletes might face at the 2020 games, she exclaimed, “Wow!”

“You seem super calm and relaxed, how on earth are you doing it?” she asked. “It’s lovely to experience the science behind everything. But I am sorry that we are all watching you have to go through this.”

Kate has been patron of SportsAid since 2013 and the charity works to bring financial and practical assistance to young British athletes. About two-thirds of the British team that took part in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were recipients of the charity’s support.

“She’s motivational and it’s amazing that she does join in and has fun when she comes and sees us,” Shona Richards, 19, a 400m hurdler, told PEOPLE. “You could see she was smiling and having a good time. It makes us feel good knowing we make her smile and enjoy the day.”

Kate is undertaking a series of engagements since returning to royal duties after her illness. Over the weekend, she and [CELEBRITY_LINK visited Wales” “” “” “0” ], while Thursday the couple is heading to the Royal Variety Performance for the first time.

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