So, the countdown to Rio is almost over! We’re just days away from the Olympics getting underway and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone.
The phase leading into the Games is hectic and exciting. One of the most enjoyable parts is getting kitted out in Team GB colours. Sadly, I was unable to attend the day for Rio but I have fond memories of the one for Beijing in 2008. You’re given a personal shopper for the day, to guide you through the venue because it’s often a maze. There’s sections for fitting footwear, formalwear, tracksuits and more. By the end of the day you have a number of bags filled to burst with Team GB gear!
Amongst the hustle and bustle of things like this, it’s important not to forget what it’s all for. The Olympics only come around every four years so I always remember how hard I’ve worked towards them. Pulling on a Team GB tracksuit gives me a buzz like nothing else. Whilst I enjoy the glamour and glitz that comes with the Games, I’ve learned not to get too wrapped up in the excitement and focus on the sport, which has always been what makes me happiest. With that mentality, I know I can achieve my goals.
The final phase before Rio is the holding camp. We leave as a team and will be based on the outskirts of Rio. Arriving in Brazil a few days before it all gets underway allows us to adjust to the climate and time difference.
On the camp, the majority of the team will have started their taper. This always makes for an interesting time as a number of swimmers get ‘twitchy’ because they’re in the pool less. Staying calm and not doing anything daft can be tricky, so that’s why I’m glad to have my drawing, reading and movies to keep me busy. In the holding camp you really come together as a team. Even though it can be an individual sport, it’s so reassuring to know your fellow swimmers are willing you on.
After the holding camp comes the Athletes Village. It’s like a mini town, with:
- Apartment blocks for the athletes to stay in
- A 24/7 food hall
- Entertainment centres with games and movies
- Health clinics for any issues or injuries
- Souvenir shops with Olympic merchandise
- A huge gym for athletes to train
- And so much more!
The Village is another example of when the Olympics can overawe you, but you have to restrain yourself until racing is finished. For me, keeping a normal routine (or as close to normal as possible in the circumstances) is key to reaching peak performance.
The Olympic Motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius. Or faster, higher, stronger. We have been selected to represent our country and compete against the best in the world. However, I never lose sight of the Olympic values – Friendship, Respect and Excellence. As an athlete I apply these values to my everyday life.
I am grateful for the Olympics. They have taken me across the world and I’ve met countless people from different backgrounds and sports and through competing at them, I’ve learned the importance of respecting your opponents, peers and striving to be the best I possibly can.
So, on to Rio we go!