There are certain key stages you go through with the Olympics. First you get selected. Then you get your kit, that's a big deal too. Then there's the third stage – you go into the village. It's the biggest one.
The experience you have in the village depends on your character. If you're with mates, hanging out with people you like socially, you'll have a lot of fun, but it's not for everyone.
Paula Radcliffe always stays out. Seb Coe stays out. I was lucky, I had my best mate with me. I roomed with Kris Akabusi, and we trained together so it wasn't a daunting thing.
In Barcelona in 1992, I remember the America basketball team walking around. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird. You feel amazed to be part of that.
Imagine you're from a lesser-known sport, and suddenly you're in with Usain Bolt, or Andy Murray. It's very exciting. But you have to not get distracted. You're not on holiday. You're not there to have a party.
There are two types of athletes in the village really. Those who are there to have a good time, who are never going to win a medal, and then there's those who think they might win one. In Atlanta in 1996, I was it the shape of my life, I thought I might win one, and I knew it was my last chance.
There's not that much to think about, in a way, because your management have everything planned for you. When and where you'll eat, where you'll train. There are emotions to deal with, when some of your friends come back happy, with medals, and others come back sad.
The biggest problem has always been the swimmers. They finish before the athletics even start. They spend their life more than semi naked, up at four in the morning. When it's all done, well, they've got a lot of pent up something or other. Sharon Davies has the stories.
I had to stay focused. It's not much fun, in a way, being in the last event of the last day, like the 400m relay used to be. But then, when it's over, you're finally ready to party.
- More about:
- Athletics, Track And Field
- Paula Radcliffe
- Sebastian Coe
- Usain Bolt