[caption id="attachment_4155" align="alignright" width="300"] After a post - Olympic whirlwind of activities, Michael has got back into training at Bath University. He also visited Swindon Dolphins last week, who described him as a "great ambassador for our sport" :)[/caption]
Where has the time gone?! I can't believe it's been over 2 months since the Olympic Games. There have been so many exciting events in the aftermath so there’s a lot to fill you in on!
Firstly, thank you all for your messages and support over the last 12 months, especially during the trials event in March - it really has made a difference and I'm delighted we have a medal to show for it. My whole career has been in preparation for the 2012 summer and I didn't give much thought to events taking place in the seasons following the Olympic Games but it’s already underway.
The Games were everything I hoped they would be. The atmosphere in the Olympic village, the enthusiasm from the games makers and volunteers, bumping into sporting superstars and having breakfast with them too all helped create the Olympic experience. I felt there was a mutual respect between the athletes, all aware of the commitment and preparation that has gone before.
From a performance perspective, the British swim team didn't perform as well as we should have and I'm not too sure why. The advantage of a home crowd was a huge positive for me and a pressure that I felt comfortable and relaxed in. I love the big occasions, it's the main reason I'm in the sport and I couldn't help but smile when parading to my block pre races. Swimming in the 100m breaststroke before the 200m was perfect preparation. I swam a sizeable best time and from then on, the nerves were outweighed by excitement.
After the semi-final of the 200m, I knew I had more in the tank and that a medal was a possibility, but I never allowed myself to think of Gold - something I regret now. Daniel Gyurta, unbeaten in 4 years, was the overwhelming favourite and I didn't believe I could beat him, until it was too late. I'd targeted 2.08.0 in 2006 as a time I was capable of swimming and one which 'should' be enough to make the podium. The final turned out to be the first race of my career where I've surprised myself.
I felt strong during the race - the years of 'one more rep' circuits, sleeping in altitude tents, living in a cardboard box sized studio room in Paris and the self-imposed alcohol bans all paying off. Relief and happiness were closely matched after the race; I definitely had a fear of failure in the lead up to the Games, which I managed to get under control after the trials in March.
Since the Games, I had a busy but sizeable break from the water, the highlight being meeting my sporting idol, Pele, at a function in London. I was hugely honoured to meet him and to have a few words of advice about the importance of respect and self-belief.
In the past few weeks, I've gone back to the water and started training again. The challenge for me now is to look at the Olympic Games as another breakthrough. I'll have much more pressure on my performances now and any major international that doesn't result in a medal finish will be viewed as a disappointment.
I don't want the Olympic Games to be my career highlight and so have had no trouble in terms of motivation to get back to training. I'll be competing at the World short course Champs in Istanbul in December and then the British Champs as a qualifier for the World long course in Barcelona next summer.
Thanks again for all your support & hopefully we will be celebrating more medals in the coming seasons! :)
Thanks Michael - it's great to hear your personal experience of the Games! There were lots of hoarse voices around Smiths News for a few days from cheering you on so much ;)
We're all so proud of your achievements and glad to have lent our support along the way. We're looking forward to welcoming you to our Community Awards event on November 2nd.