It’s something that all athletes remember. Entering the Olympic Village for the first time is when the Games first begin to feel real. While every Olympic Village is different, the feeling you experience when first setting your eyes over this makeshift residence remains a very consistent one.
It was actually only a couple of weeks ago that I was invited back to the same Olympic Village I stayed in during the Barcelona Olympics. Even though it had been 20 years since my last visit, it certainly brought a few memories to the surface. I remember it being a real celebrity spotting environment and even I couldn’t resist getting my photo taken with the famous US basketball Dream Team.
This time around, the Olympic Village is in a fantastic location for the track and field athletes. It’s right next to the Olympic Stadium which allows athletes to avoid long commutes, and the nearby shopping centre is a real plus from an athlete’s point of view.
Although it’s a great experience for an Olympian, it’s not something that I used to really get that excited about. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t in the frame of mind to enjoy it at the time and maybe it becomes more enjoyable once you’ve finished your event.
Unfortunately, it’s something that a track and field athlete will never be able to have an opinion on as the athletics goes on to the last day. Because of this, the village was always the staging for my final preparation. You become caught in a travelling triangle of your bedroom, dining room and physio; given very little time to make use of the wonderful facilities.
This said, those last key sessions are really crucial and for me it was about confidence more than anything else. In the Olympics, it’s very easy to get influenced by other people around you or to get distracted so it’s important to stick to what works – the same routine, eating the same things and staying disciplined.
As for watching the Olympics, I am really looking forward to seeing both the 110m and 400m hurdles. It’s great that we’ve got so many athletes taking part and through the likes of Perri Shakes-Drayton, Dai Greene and Jack Green we’ve some real medal contenders. I know it’s going to be an amazing feeling in that Olympic Stadium and I just can’t wait to feel that buzz of the British crowd getting behind their athletes.
The thing about this year is that I wanted to enjoy the whole experience and not just be restricted to what’s going on in the Olympic Stadium. I am going with my boys to watch the BMX biking and we’re also going to watch the handball and boxing so we have the chance to see a very different type of Games to what I am used to.
This will also be the first opening ceremony that I have been able to see in its entirety. Back when I was an athlete, I fast realised that the opening ceremony can be quite tiring; you don’t get to see much of the actual ceremony and you’re only paraded at the end. This time, I will be attending as a British Olympic Association ambassador and I’m really excited.
How we will decide to launch the Olympics this time around is the question on everyone’s lips. I am as much in the dark as you, but I can’t wait until all is revealed this evening.
Sally Gunnell’s exclusive column comes courtesy of Japanese sportswear brand Mizuno. Mizuno’s new Performance Centre is open to the public between 24 July and 12 August at Centre Point Building, 101- 103 New Oxford Street. Visit www.mizunoseiei.com for more information.