Village experience is like no other
Modern pentathlete Samantha Murray is a silver medal winner from London 2012 who was born in Preston and spent her childhood in Clitheroe. Read her latest column as she prepares for this summer's Olympics in Rio
Now that my qualification and selection for Rio has been confirmed, I can think ahead and begin to prepare for what lies ahead.
It’s not just training for my sport of modern pentathlon that I need to think about. Surprisingly, it’s also preparation for the amazing experience of the Olympic Village and the event of the actual Games.
The Olympic Village and the magnitude of the Games can be overwhelming.
There is restricted access to the Olympic Village so the experience inside is unique and special.
It is the case that one morning at breakfast, I just happened to pass David Cameron and had an interesting chat about politics with him!
Of course, he had security around him but it gives you a flavour of the kind of encounters one can experience in this extraordinary place.
At the London 2012 Olympic village, I spent some time considering if it would have been better to describe the place as a large town due to its sheer size, population and facilities.
I had to take time out of the village so I that I wasn’t distracted by the arcades, discos, food hall (it’s the size of two football pitches and is open 24 hours a day with every possible menu you might desire) and the famous sports stars – imagine queuing for coffee with Jessica Ennis-Hill!
It is difficult to avoid being swept away by the wonder of the place and it’s important to remember that this is a competition and only after my event can I relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Unfortunately for modern pentathletes, our event is the last of the Olympic Games.
This is because modern pentathlon has a special place in the Olympics as it represents the embodiment of the ultimate skills of a gallant soldier, and was created as a multi event sport by Pierre de Coubertin when he recommenced the Olympic Games in 1912.
Modern pentathlon’s position as the final event of the Games is a celebration of Pierre de Coubertin’s Olympic Games revival.
I’m proud to be part of the spirit of the Olympic Games and its traditions and history – even if it means the celebration time left for me post event in the Olympic village is brief.
I don’t have the chance to see my family very much because they live in Lancashire, and my training schedule is six days a week and I’m frequently competing or training abroad.
This meant that the opportunity for them to come to the Royal Barracks at Hyde Park, London for the Modern Pentathlon Team GB announcement earlier this month was very special.
They are so proud and happy for me to be living my dream, a dream I have held since being a little girl, and have always been totally supportive.
There have been some difficult times such as when I’ve had injury to contend with or when training has been especially tough.
These are the times when I’ve been on the phone to my mum and she has helped me through, either by visiting me or just talking to me. So for my mum, and the rest of my family, to watch the selection ceremony was a tremendously special occasion for us all.
The great thing, once selected as a Team GB athlete, is that you know you’re off to the Olympics and you have a timeframe to work with.
You can dictate your training and figure out what you need to do. This means focusing on the areas for improvement and that is exactly what I plan to do with my coaching team.
Everything is for a reason. I need to just stay happy, focused and remember I am only human.
Occasionally, there is the need for a day off and some time out to go and see friends or do something like go to the cinema.
Life is about balance and I think when you’re training at an extremely high level it is important not to get carried away with the intensity of the fact that this is the Olympic Games.
Soon I will begin my altitude training in preparation for Rio. When I’m running in the mountains, I will be thinking of home, imagining the Olympic Village in Rio and preparing myself for what is soon to come.
n Aldi are proud supporters of Team GB, read more from Samantha Murray at www.teamgb.com/homegrownheroes