Diary of an Olympian: 'It's an out-of-body experience, being on the podium'

Etienne Stott, who won Britain's first canoeing Olympic gold medal with Tim Baillie on Thursday, describes his week to Emily Dugan

Saturday I wake up at the hotel we've been in for the last week, which is 10 minutes from the course. Today is about relaxing and preparing for our heats tomorrow. We do video analysis and watch the runs live at the venue, and do a warm-up to make sure we're loose and limber. I'm reading Game of Thrones at the minute; it's great for taking your mind off it.

We watch a bit of the Olympics until enough is enough and it all gets a bit scary. It's awesome to be a part of it, but it can be overwhelming.

Monday Our heats day. It is massive. We do our run, which is very good and we come in third, so we are pretty clear we will do well. We analyse the run to see on video if we could go any faster, then work out if we could. In the second heat we come fourth after a couple of mistakes.

It is a nerve-racking day because we want to make a good start and know four boats are being knocked out and are desperate that one of them isn't us.

Tuesday After a long session with our coach, watching the video and working out what we are doing, we watch the canoe singles category because you can get some information from there. We also watch the final live at the venue because it is just awesome to see. It is quite cool and a little bit nerve-racking at the same time to see that it really is the Olympics and medals will be awarded.

Wednesday The night before the race, we sit together as a crew and we know where we're going to be going at each stage. It's like setting a train on to a track and once you start, that's it.

I speak to my girlfriend in the evening and text my parents, but I try to keep them all at arms' length so I focus on what I am doing. You don't always feel like talking; sometimes with family and girlfriend, you feel a bit torn and conflicted.

Thursday After a mental warm-up to get my head in the right place, we warm up in the water, starting gently then going through intense sprints. I eat a big fat peanut butter and jam sandwich and it's time for the race. You don't have the time and head space to be too nervous - there's an overriding task that keeps you occupied, which is planning and working out where we want the boat at each section of the white water.

We are very clear on what we are focused on and what we want to do. The crowd washes through you like a ghost: you feel it and you know it and you use it, but you don't let it distract you.

The reason we plan so carefully is so we will have a very similar way of looking at everything and our paddling instinct is the same, so we don't lose any precious oxygen.

We are the first to go in the final and we sit at the finish line watching the different crews coming in. Each time people come down, we think, oh, we're guaranteed fifth, then fourth, then we realise we are in line for a medal. I can't believe it when we have GB for one-two.

It is very strange to be there. The crowd goes absolutely crazy. If I'd been in the stands watching British people getting a medal it would have been more real. I am so dazed, I remember the sun on my face and the national anthem, but it doesn't feel like me. It is like an out-of-body experience.

We are whisked straight from the venue into London to do the BBC and then go back to our hotel at 12.30am near the venue. I have my medal on all night. At the hotel everyone is partying – even the RAF regiment guys who guard the venue are joining in. Everyone in that room has played some sort of part in it – it is incredible.

Friday My hand is hurting this morning from all the people I shook hands with. I get to bed at about 3am and then get up at 6am to go back into London to do more media stuff. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us and our sport to get in the public eye. We love canoeing, and if we can spread the love, then brilliant. We move into the Olympic Village, which is really special.

Saturday This morning on the way down I bumped into Mo Farah in the lift. He obviously looked a bit nervous and tense. I told him: "Take it easy, man: the British public adore you."

It's good to be properly reunited with my girlfriend again. Georgie and I have been together four years. But juggling the demands of a relationship with those of the sport can be tough. There are little compromises and the business I'm in can be very self-absorbing.

We have a whole clutch of media stuff to do today. I have not checked either Facebook or my emails since the start of the heat, so my computer is in danger of exploding. Now that my Games are over, I might finally get around to signing up to Twitter. And there'll hopefully be a few more drinks tonight.

Tomorrow we're going on a speedboat riding up the Thames. I really do feel like I'm living the dream at the moment. Something on this scale may never happen to me again. I just hope that however my life changes, I can stay true to who I am. Because much of that is what got me here in the first place.

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Bey can do it: Beyoncé re-enacts Rosie the Riveter's pose
newsRosie the Riveter started out as an American wartime poster girl and has become a feminist pin-up. With Beyoncé channeling her look, Gillian Orr tells her story
Life and Style
Donna and Paul Wheatley at their wedding
healthShould emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements