London 2012 Olympics are now just a memory and I’ve come home to ‘normal’ life – whatever that is.
It’s a weird feeling waking up each morning and not having a schedule outlining exactly when you have to eat, train and sleep. It certainly takes some adjusting but it’s a time that my body welcomes following an intense build up to the biggest sporting show on earth. London put on such an amazing show from the opening to the closing ceremony. The whole city embraced the games and it was an exciting place to compete and the crowds were vocal and patriotic.
Unfortunately, I can’t miraculously make my disappointment of not winning a medal disappear. When you work so hard for something and then fail to make it a reality it leaves you empty and pondering. But that’s the nature of the Olympics. 10,820 athletes compete in 302 events meaning there are 906 medals available. So given those statistics it means that only 8.4% of athletes competing will walk away with an elusive Olympic medal. That leaves 9,914 athletes pondering their performance and leaving empty handed. So in that cut-throat environment you have to put performances in perspective, otherwise it would eat you up and kill you. And that is my position. We didn’t come away with a medal but we produced a very credible personal best time and broke the national record by 1.2seconds. As a team we performed to our abilities and left it all out there on the track and that we are proud of. We controlled what we could and the other countries ahead of us stepped up another level and went bloody fast, something we could do nothing about.
As I reflect on what I have experienced I can’t help but feel proud to be a Kiwi. The support of family and friends who travelled to London to cheer us on truly does make a difference and then there is the nerves you feel and the goose bumps that follow as you watch your teammates compete. The butterflies were especially crazy sitting in the stands watching my team mate Simon Van Velthooven race the Keirin. It ended in a result that couldn’t have been closer with them eventually awarding two bronze medals. An amazing moment! Following competition I enjoy the opportunity to support the wider Kiwi team. Our performances on the water with rowing, sailing and kayaking were amazing with a massive medal haul and I was also lucky enough to see the BMX live.
An Olympics is not complete though without a trip to the main stadium and Craig and I were privileged to be given tickets to the 200m Bolt show and witness the 800m world record being broken. For me it is inside the athletics stadium that you realise how big the Olympics are. 80,000 spectators voluntarily fell into dead silence as Bolt (and don’t forget the other seven competitors) was poised for the start of the 200m final. Its moments like these that you realise the power of sport and the power of the Olympics. The emotion extended beyond the athletes and into the 80,000 spectators in the stands and then filtered out around the world to the billions watching on their televisions. Its moments like these that I realised my result on the racing track is just one part of my role as an athlete. Almost what’s more important is our ability to represent our country with pride and dignity and as the London slogan read “Inspire a Generation”.
Maybe this is just a convenient way for me to rationalise the fact we didn’t win a medal, after all you don’t become an Olympian without a deep competitive instinct. It’s now been two weeks since stepping off the velodrome after our race and I have talked to many people, read many emails and Facebook messages from friends, family and strangers. All retell their joy and excitement of watching us compete. And in Dunedin from the comforts of home I have reflected and realised what I do as an athlete goes deeper than just winning. I know I have the ability to inspire young Kiwi’s, bring joy and excitement to many New Zealanders and provide an avenue that allows individuals to dream and believe. And that to me is what the Olympics are about. I feel privileged to have been given this opportunity and it makes me so proud to be a Kiwi.