Thursday, 1 September 2016

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Just under 2 weeks ago I officially became an Olympian. Life long ambition achieved. Precious memories that will stay with me for the remainder of my days. Yet it already feels like a lifetime ago. Such is the Olympic bubble. It's a different world. Like stepping through the wardrobe doors into Narnia. You're lost in a parallel world that's cut off from normality and reality. Not much penetrates. The outside world is but a hazy blur that passes on the other side of the bubble. Your vaguely aware that it's there but, selfishly, you let it pass by without too much consideration. In the Olympic world you're cooked and cleaned for. Your constantly surrounded by a team of people working hard to make your life as easy as possible. It's filled with packet fresh kit from Beetles offspring, accreditations and lanyards, pin badges, flashing shoes, giant dining halls, free McDonald's, news of incredible triumph, and stories of dream shattering losses. It's a crazy, cool, unforgettable world that I feel privileged to have experienced.

But suddenly, you stumble out the other side, tired and bleary eyed and wonder if it did just happen or if it was all some weird dream. You stare at the kitchen and try to remember how everything works. You begin to get your head around the oven again, and then realise that in the real world you even have to buy your own food. But where from?! 

Everything is so quiet and calm. You have time to sit on your sofa with a cup of tea and reflect. 

"Fourth is the worst place to finish at an Olympic Games" 

We've all heard it. We've probably all said it. Remarked at that poor person who just missed out on a medal. But you never think it's going to be you in that situation. It never crossed my mind anyway. But I was fourth at the Olympic Games. 

"Better than 5th at least!" 

That's the spirit. True plucky Brit logic. Maybe it's true? Or maybe I would have preferred to have finished 34th, too far away to feel the heartbreak of coming so close? I've considered both options. Sometimes I prefer one over the other. Other times times my emotions sway me a different way. The grass is always greener, as they say. 

There were 306 podiums in Rio 2016. 306 Golds. 306 Silvers. 306 Bronzes. And therefore 306 fourths. I was certainly not alone. I wondered how many of the 306 fourth placers were at home now, happy with their result? Or how many were wallowing in self pity after coming so close? I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to think. Jury was out. I was sat on the fence. Well dangling my feet either side at least. 

"Fourth at your first Olympics! You should be proud!" 

Rationally, I know this is probably true. But the irrational side of me cried a few tears. Disappointed in myself. Disappointed for all those people who invested so much time and effort in me. Disappointed for all the friends and family I neglected in pursuit of an ultimately elusive dream. 

But this is starting to read like a pity plea. And pity is not what I'm after. I've rationalised. I was fourth at the Olympic Games. Yes it fell short of my own, and I'm sure others, expectations. I didn't perform to my ability and I didn't deliver the performance I wanted. I'm not going to bore you with excuses as to why I wasn't good enough. But I gave everything I had on the day, and for that at least, I have to be proud.

I think it's human nature, or maybe a flaw, to never be satisfied. To always want more. As an athlete it can be a strength and a weakness. The need to be better, to continue achieving, it's what gets you out of bed, it's what makes you push harder, push limits. It also makes you vulnerable to the highs and lows of sport. I wonder if I had held on for bronze, would I actually be satisfied? Or would I be wondering what it feels like to be one or two steps higher? I don't need to wonder, I already know the answer. 

Regardless of the outcome and my interpretation of it, my Olympic experience was a special one. Hopefully it won't be my last, but that's impossible to predict. An endless number of people contributed to this journey. Some more than others, but ultimately every one that helped, supported, believed, enabled, endured and cheered deserve thanks. There are far too many to mention here, so I'll spare you. But to everyone that I can't reach personally, Thank You. 

A special mention and of course congratulations must go to the three that crossed the line first. 
Gwen breathtaking as always. 
Nicola as inspiring, if not more, than 4 years ago. 
And Vicky. You already know everything that I could possibly write here and more. You know 'us' better than anyone else. So simply, Thank you. 

And if you're wondering, this blog, as usual, is the result of another long haul flight. One in which my e-reader has unfortunately broken and entertainment options are otherwise limited. Which means I must be on the road again. 

Onwards. Always. 

One of my favorite images from the Games. Thank you for whoever captured the moment from their TV screen! 





17 comments:

  1. Great blog! I hope you will enter Narnia once more!

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  2. You inspire so many Non, including my 11 year old who is making you something to send (I shan't say any more, she'll kill me!). And moreover, you do it with such grace, compassion and no little style. As do all of our British triathletes. 4th best in the world on a day when you weren't at the very top of your game is tough, but still one heck of a performance. But, perhaps more importantly, you are a genuine role model that young people can aspire to be like (and not just in a sporting sense). We are all very very proud of you, Vicky, Helen and Jodie. Whatever the future may hold.

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  3. You're still an inspiration to me, congratulations. I only hope one day you'll be able to look back and be proud of what you've achieved. Best of luck to you!

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  4. Beautiful writing. Good luck for the rest of the season and for the next ones.
    Always a pleasure to admire your exceptional running form.

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  5. I watched the race, clearly you have it your all. The great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden defined success as (I'm paraphrasing) - peace of mind knowing you have it your best effort and prep. You raced strong, you should be proud and lay the foundation for your next big race - to win! It was a great race to watch. Well done

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  6. many have shed a few tears, but you have inspired many and many still believe in you, your time will happen.

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  7. many have shed a few tears, but you have inspired many and many still believe in you, your time will happen.

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  8. 4th in your first Olympics is bloody amazing. It took Gwen 2 attempts to get on the top step.... xx

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  9. Interesting blog. Please though, learn the difference between "your" and "you're" (you are).

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  10. Interesting blog. Please though, learn the difference between "your" and "you're" (you are).

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  11. Interesting to remark on Non's grammar rather than her athletic skill or her gracious reaction to being fourth. But please learn how not to post twice. Idiot.

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  12. Both pleased and gutted for you at the same time. Best wishes and thanks for doing Wales and Swansea proud. Alex

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  13. Ditto on exactly what Alex Williams said ... Cheered you on while flying the red dragon from Wisconsin USA not far from where Gwen is from so this race was extra special for me....born as bred inNeath S. Wales and now Wisconsin for the last 20 years.

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  14. Hi Non, you did great! This is something that I learned a long time ago: No one can not do better than their best at any given moment in any thing!
    If you did the best you could at that moment in time, then fantastic. If you review your race, and think "maybe could have done X"
    Then do it next time! All the best!

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