As race day creeps closer, my excitement continues to build. I’m reminded of the years of work I’ve put in to get to this stage. Everything I’ve done, from the moment I took up cycling back in 2004 has built to this event. And yet it seems like only last week that I took my first ride around Forest City Velodrome, and only yesterday that Olympic qualification started.
The Olympic Village is an experience in itself, with thousands of the best athletes from all over the world in a single location. The food is amazing, with choices of cuisines from all over the world, and of course a McDonalds. The McCafe line is always the longest in the dining hall, with the high demand for a good cup of coffee (and caffeine!). The village houses over 17,000 athletes, coaches and staff, and yet the layout of buildings is so well done that even with the abundance of green space, it only takes about a 5 minute walk to get across the village to the dining hall. Of course, for us cyclists that translates into a 2 minute bike ride, since we are always trying to save our legs from a bit of extra walking.
At this point in the game, it’s very tempting to get caught up in the distractions of the village, with all these choices of food, video games, and even a Beats studio where we can make appointments to work with a professional producer. But again, the reminder of the work we’ve all done to get to this point, keeps us focused on the main goal: to give our everything, and to represent our country to our highest potential come race day.
The Olympics bring about new and greater sources of pressure, and distractions, but I am remaining calm and relaxed in my final build up. One of my main focuses over the past year has been working on the mental side of training. This has involved everything from distraction management, to imagery. I feel a significant amount of my improvement over the last year can be attributed to this. The value of mental training is often forgotten, and isn’t given as much significance as physical training, but it really gives me the ability to get more out of every training session I complete. Being that extra bit focused, or motivated during each training effort rather than just going through motions has had a huge effect on my performance. And the other skills I’ve learned from my mental conditioning coach have been invaluable to my development as an athlete. Rather than focusing on outcomes, I’ve learned to focus on the processes and steps involved to achieve my goals. For me personally, this has allowed me to thrive under pressure, and to be prepared to give my best performance in 5 days time!