I’m often asked what it really feels like and what you are thinking, when you stand in the start gate at the Olympic Games, knowing that a medal is possible?
In reality, you try to think of nothing, you work hard to regulate your body and stay focused on the process of executing what you know how to do.
You do have a sense within you however, a deep awareness of the fine line between success and failure - you must choose not to go there! Rather, to focus your thoughts on what you can control and the next normal right step you should take (and would normally take at any other competition).
You remind yourself that all the work happened earlier, so you can stand with confidence and stability upon those foundations that you built.
There is no room for desperation or last minute urges to do something differently. You have to believe that all your preparations have you ready, and that your normal will be good enough. You need to maximise what you do have and let go of what you don’t have.
You try to forget that the world is watching but the pressure feels great, the air feels thick, every sensation feels heightened.
You tell yourself (and must know within yourself) that you are okay, that you are supported, that you can trust yourself. And with that knowing, you just stand tall and be in it, fully present. It is uncomfortable and as fully alive as you will ever know.
It’s in that moment that you will make a subconscious decision – to retreat, self sabotage or lean into it?
You must remind yourself that you can do uncomfortable things, that you can “do hard”, that you prepared for this and you do want to be here. You feel a radiation of fear and you choose to accept it, to be at one with it rather than paralysed by it. You breathe.
And then you simply DO … you do it as you trained and you give your best - not wanting or seeking more and hoping not for less. You do it believing, that at the end of the day, your friends and family will love you no matter what.
Supporting different athletes (and their coaches) at the Beijing 2022 Games was one of the greatest honours of my life. I gave my heart, my head and my whole self, and I received that back in bucket loads. Without a doubt, it is both a privilege and a unique responsibility to step up and represent your country.
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