Dream Gone, Heart Broken.
“We regret to inform you that you have not been selected to represent Team GBR in the Rio Olympic Games”
This was the hardest email I have ever had to read in my triathlon career so far. Not because it wasn’t what I was expecting – I knew after my performance on the Gold Coast that I wouldn’t be going to the Games but it is hard to read, and hard to digest.
This is not the blog I wanted to be posting, but anyone who reads my blogs knows that I tell the truth and talk from the heart and this will be no different. As I type I can feel the tears coming on and the goose bumps coming through my body, so here we go.
After the great start I had to my 2016 campaign, a win in Abu Dhabi followed by a win in Mooloolaba, I knew I was heading in the right direction in my mission to get on the start line at the Rio Olympics. Training had been going well, although it’s always hard to judge, pushing your body to the max to get the most out of it, but this is what was needed leading into the Gold Coast race and trying to get the best out of myself on race day.
This was the race that I was aiming for, it’s the race that I focused on when I was mentally drained, physically exhausted, it’s the reason I was away from home – all I had to do was perform well, like I had already done, and get myself on that start line in Rio, going for a medal.
Going into the race I was prepared, ready to go, thanks to coach Darren Smith and my D-Squad girls Mari Rabi and Lisa Norden. We had been the musketeers since October, and all 3 of us on a mission to get to the 2016 Olympic Games. The first 2 races didn’t mean anything for Olympic selection, and I knew that, the races that count were the Rio test event in 2015, Chicago Grand Final 2015, and Gold Coast WTS, but I still wanted to race them to make sure I wasn’t going into the GC race rusty and not quite knowing where I was at having only been just back from injury for the first two races.
The GC race itself, I went in ranked Number 1 based on the Abu Dhabi result, I felt fine before the race, yes swimming was a doubt of how I would fair, but this is mainly because my team mates are so good in the pool. I was hoping for the best, dived in and felt flat – I had nothing. I couldn’t feel the water, couldn’t push, couldn’t get the heart rate up, and this was pretty much the same on the bike. I took my turn at the front of the pack and tried for the first 3 laps to chase – it wasn’t happening, nobody was willing to work with me to close the gap to the lead group. I just couldn’t close it and came off the bike 26th. But I didn’t give up and on the run I just gave it my all. This again wasn’t a true reflection of what form I am in at all. I knew what was happening in the race, and I knew that it was nothing I could control, and as I ran each step I could feel that 3rd Olympic spot slipping away from me. I crossed the line in 12th, after coming out the swim 40th or something. I hope this shows that I never gave up, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t perform on the day. I have no excuses – it just wasn’t my day.
Helen had the most amazing race, she raced tactically, and won in style. What a great way to gain an Olympic spot. I would like to personally congratulate both Helen and her coach Marc on selection, and wish them both a successful training block until the Games.
Words cannot truly express how I felt when I crossed that line, and that feeling still remains now. It’s so tough to put into words what’s happening in my head and heart. Since the disappointment of London 2012, all my focus has gone into Rio 2016. I was adamant I would be on that start line, as a medal contender. Now I doubt whether I am even meant to be an Olympian at all, and that hurts so so much. I know that everything is still raw, and maybe my mind set will change in time, but it’s now a matter of trying to refocus on new goals for the 2016 season. Tokyo 2020? Who knows?
All the support I have had from D-Squad, coach, family, friends, supporters, sponsors has been unbelievable, and everyone has been so supportive, but I cannot help but feel like a failure, and have let so many people down. I’m truly devastated knowing that I won’t get to wear GBR on my chest in Rio.
The highs and lows of sport and life are so dramatic after the race. My head was spinning, I didn’t know where to turn, or who to turn to. I headed back to the hotel post race and Skyped Mom and my sis, I couldn’t speak through the tears. I felt so empty and it was so hard having them on the other end of a call when all I wanted to do was give them a hug, and tell them I was sorry. I really need to thank Mari and Chris for looking after me post race, not only is Mari a great training partner but has become such a great friend and is still helping me through this.
Every day is a battle so far, and I would like to say that I’m taking my anger out on some sessions but I’m still a little numb at the minute. I will come out the other side – it just might take a while. I’m currently back in Stellenbosch and will race Cape Town WTS this weekend. I have no idea how the race will go, and really have no expectation on the race. I intend to go in and race hard and then look forward to returning home for some much needed family time.
My plan now? I’m not too sure… I’m doing The Great Birmingham 10km on 1st May, then looking to race the rest of the WTS series, and maybe a few ITU World Cup races in between. I would like a say a massive thank you to everyone’s messages of support, both pre and post the GC race. I have been completely overwhelmed at the response and it’s so nice to know people support me.
Team GBR are sending 3 amazingly strong women to Rio, Non, Helen and Vicky all deserve to be on that start line. I am privileged to be in such a successful GBR women’s sport, and I am sure that our ladies will deliver the goods in August. I wish them all the very best of luck – go get ‘em girls.
Thank you once again to everyone – don’t worry, I’ll be back.