Prof’s Olympic Legacy

13 Jan

I’m sure many of you were like me during London 2012, feeling the same excitement and exhilaration watching our fine Olympians achieving their goals. All their dedicated hard work and years of training, culminating in the joy of being on the podium, receiving their medals.

Before the games started I was a stereotypical English cynic, expecting nothing less than the biggest cock up ever on an international stage. The opening ceremony started, the wine was opened and by the end of Danny Boyle’s extravaganza and a few glasses of wine I was in tears at the sheer magnificence of it all. The ensuing hangover the next morning meant I was sofa bound and overwhelmed by the 20+ channels of sports I knew nothing about on offer. I became addicted for 2 whole weeks switching between fencing, rowing, cycling, archery, beach volleyball, swimming and the list continued. I became an expert in it all. It wasn’t long before as a nation we started clocking up the medals. Moved by the emotions of the athletes I started to think “I want one of those”, ruminating from my sofa what sport could a 41 year old woman hope to get a medal in if they were to start training now for Rio 2016. Something that relied on skill, where age was not a hindrance, it was clear to me – archery.

The next day I set about watching the archery to size up my rivals for Rio. My goodness they had steady hands and nerves of steel. As I watched the commentator casually announced that the South Korean women’s team had won every single team event since 1988 and most of the individual medals. I felt beaten before I’d started, my Rio medal hopes were dashed. Hardly the mentality of an Olympian I grant you, but I knew I couldn’t compete with their cool, calm, robot-like performance. I had to find another sport.

Now I’m not sure how it happened but at some point during that day I caught up in the heady exuberance of the sporting achievements of others and tweeted Sarah, a friend of many years since University. Within hours we had both signed up to do our first triathlon!


Now I understand that it isn’t very likely that either of us will be heading over to Rio in anything other than a spectator role but I was now signed up to the Blenheim triathlon 2013. This was an unusual choice, not least because I can’t swim front crawl and haven’t been on a bike for years. Add to that decades of smoking and drinking and I’m hardly your prime specimen. Unfortunately we had boldly announced it in the twittersphere and so there was no going back. So in October I joined the Manchester Triathlon Club to get some much needed coaching.

My first session was swimming. The coach Tony was welcoming and listened as I explained what a pickle I was in and begged him to help me get to the basic level I would need to avoid humiliation and drowning. He wanted to see my front crawl I said “I can’t do front crawl” he said “Have a go show me what you can do” I hadn’t been in a public swimming baths since my son was a child (he is now 21) I got in and bashed about imagining that I somehow was mirroring Rebecca Adlington, gliding through the water with the grace of an dolphin. I got out of the pool and Tony concluded that I was “a bit Thunderbirds”. I have a long way to go.



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