It was amazing seeing Weymouth brave the really horrible weather and come up out massively to support the Olympic Torch on Thursday.
I have to admit that I ended up watching the whole thing through binoculars from the balcony of our team accommodation at Portland, with the local news on in the background as I’d been on a strict rest day and had spent the afternoon chilling out watching the Tour de France. But after seeing it all unfold in the distance, I actually wish I’d got all my offshore gear on and made the effort to get amongst it all because it looked really impressive.
There were so many people at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy and on the beach and absolutely fair play to them because the weather was awful! I think that just reflects how much excitement has built up around the Torch Relay and the fact that the Olympics are going to be here very soon.
So much thought and attention to detail has gone into making the Torch Relay a success and speaking as an athlete who’s been to two previous Games, I know the great memories I have of the Olympic Flame being lit in the venues at Athens and Beijing. It’s actually a pretty powerful symbol for most athletes and I’m always on the BBC website seeing where the Torch has been going and how many people are involved and have come out in support.
Every day we have been going out sailing in the past week we have seen the rowers practicing taking the Torch from the Academy across the Bay to Weymouth. It all just brings an added realism that we are getting very close now.
We have stopped being able to train out of the Academy now as they put the final Olympic preparations into place. So each morning myself, my coach Arthur and training partner, Nick Thompson, have been meeting down at Portland Marina, getting the RIB over to Town Quay in Weymouth, head over to where the boats are at Weymouth SC, get them rigged, go out sailing and then head back to Portland on the RIB after we have finished training.
It’s actually been nice to have a change of scenery and variety, and that time in the RIB there and back gives us a chance to chat things through and reflect a bit on what we have done or needs doing. Once we’re out on the water the areas we can sail in haven’t been restricted yet and it’s pretty good because there are plenty of foreign boats out. Once me and Nick have finished doing our own stuff, we can join in with the foreign teams for some racing.
Normally my day involves driving across the causeway from Wyke Regis to the Academy at Portland so you don’t get a true sense of what is going on in Weymouth. But having been over there a bit more this week you can see there is already loads going on on the beach, and around the Pavilion, and it’s all looking pretty cool.
The next time we can go back into the Academy it’s the real thing. I saw the Olympic boats that we will use for the games being wheeled in to storage yesterday. You’re always hoping you get a good boat, and I cant wait to get out in it when I get back from the holding camp.
Saskia and I managed to get a couple of days chilling out at a health spa in Exmoor a week or so ago. The whole sailing team were given our last bit of time off before the Games and I didn’t want to fly anywhere because travel is tiring and you lose two days on your time off too getting there and back. We were lucky to have one really nice day when we went walking but the other day we would have been better off in our wetsuits! It was nice just to get some time to play a bit of indoor tennis and relax a bit before the final run in.
Monday the 16th is the first day we are officially members of TeamGB but for the first few days, I’ll stay living at home training as normal until we head off to our team holding camp. That is when we really start becoming the close knit team the British sailing team is known for. It is the point where it becomes just the core group of sailors, coaches and support staff who are involved day-to-day at the Games and your mind becomes very, very focussed.
Peripheral things change too, like we start having to wear TeamGB kit every day and you need your accreditation to get into the Academy. But nothing can take your mind off the job you have to do, and being part of the British sailing team, until you have given everything you can possibly give to achieve the one thing you have spent four years working towards.