Well, what a year it has been. Ok, 15 months – I told you I was a rubbish planner. Sorry it’s taken so long to finish my write-ups, post completion of my very silly project, I just wanted to spend a bit of time thinking about some of the more neglected elements of my life and, if I’m honest, being a bit feral. So immediately afterwards, I had a party at the very lovely Belle & Co in Euston, where the nice people there let me play my Montage to my friends, who I presented with medals, and I ate a cake with some hockey players on it. Quite literally, everyone was a winner.
After that, some more super exciting things happened. A nice journalist, Alan Hubbard, wrote an article about me for The Independent, and it didn’t even make me sound like a complete weirdo. THEN, Colin flipping Murray invited me on his Talksport radio show where he made my 19 year old self’s dreams a reality by giving me a hug *wipes away tear*.
Post-olympics, exciting things are on the horizon, not least the offer of some rowing tuition from MATTHEW PINSENT (Foster, WHERE ARE YOU?), but also just continuing with interesting sporty things and wanging on about them, hopefully across some different mediums…
I’ve had the most amazing time – the kind of time that I really don’t think I could ever have thought possible, on so many levels, not least because of the sporty aspect of it all. So I will share with you some learnings briefly, and my sporting montage, because I actually don’t think there’s anything better than a sporting montage.
Number one: everyone loves a trier. I’m actually not sure I’ve ever really tried very hard at anything in my life until this past year. I’m pretty lucky really, I’ve done alright academically speaking and I’ve got a fairly decent job, but you need to have something that gets you out of bed in the morning and actually, that’s what all this has been for me. Things just seem a bit better when you have to work for them.
Number two: you are more competent than you think you are. Even if you’re completely incompetent. In my case, I’m not very good at sport (or planning), but I’ve pulled this off so I must be ok at something or other.
Number three: there are lots of sports. You’ll probably enjoy one or two of them because, and here’s the big shocker, sport is awesome. Until it becomes socially acceptable to throw yourself face-first at a crash mat in your place of work, I’m telling you, you’re missing out. Go find a gymnastics club, you’re allowed to do this there.
Number four: People are awesome. And without a large number of people, this just would not have been possible, so here goes my tribute to some of them…
My family, in particular my mum, Cathy, who spent hours seeking out split-infintives in my blog posts. Until I decided I quite liked the odd split-infinitive and decided to take a different artistic path. My Dad, Tom, for the puncture repair advice. My brother Michael for letting me tell the story about the time he cut an “M” shape in the cat’s fur (we all know it was you). Thank you for your support, I love you lots.
My extended Harwich family, in particular the Simmonds-Gillies, including bezzie Vera (and her impartial boyfriend, Wheats). Thank you for sewing sequins on my ass, being videoed in Lycra, making me a montage and tirelessly sharing every single blog post with people who doubtlessly couldn’t have given less of a crap. I love you, you are bloody brilliant. And whilst we’re on the subject of Harwich, Ann, my unofficial PR guru, thank you for being interested and interesting and generally getting involved.
My handsome princes, flatmates Tom & John: you have endured more sweaty Lycra hanging over our radiators in the last year than anyone should have to endure in a whole lifetime. I’m sorry, I owe you a firmer commitment to buying loo roll and far less mardiness – thank you.
All of my other bezzies and mega supporters, Stef-bot & Tessa, K-Dog, H-Dog, Nancy, Nicola, Uncle Becky & Auntie Simon, Sophie, Gemma and Ali, thank you for listening to me whinge about being tired and in pain, for getting involved, for generally being supportive and wonderful and letting me be (on occasion) a self-obsessed, rubbish friend and, indeed, bridesmaid. I’m hoping I’ll never have to blow you out to go synchronised swimming again.
Cycling spirit guides, Grant, Simon, Joss and Joe. Well done, I’ve not yet died on London’s roads, please keep the advice coming, because I really don’t like it when other cyclists shout “F*** YOU!!!” at me.
Everyone on my medal table, you’re amazing, thank you for not making me go mountain biking on my own. That would have been really, really weird.
I have been totally overwhelmed by the generosity of all of the clubs, PTs, and other experts who helped me out just because they love their respective sports so much. But EXTRA SPECIAL thanks to Romford Hockey club (Lee Bennet, Dave Pasola and Rachel Elliot), Ruislip Eagles (Mel Chowns and Rena Fairbrother), Ashcombe Volleyball (Tim Griffiths), Girls in Gloves (Naomi Gibson), Newham Athletics Network (Coral Nourrice), thank you, thank you, thank you.
Nice media people who said lovely things about me, thus facilitating the negotiation of some really necessary discounts: Alan Hubbard, The Independent, The Daily Mirror, Amie Keeley, The East Anglian Daily Times, The Harwich and Manningtree Standard, Lee Power, The Romford Recorder, Daniel O’Donnell, The Offside, Healthista, Chris Scott, The Sportist, Niall Patterson, BBC Sport, John Nicholson, Elly Oldroyd, Ian Payne, Darren Gough and Colin Murray.
Special mention to the lovely lovely comms team past and present at Sport England: Pete Dickinson, Amy Wright, Ellie Lambert and Natasha Quinn. And the biggest special mention to Lisa O’Keefe who may have retweeted everything I’ve ever posted, which was ace.
ACTUAL OLYMPIANS, you flipping lovely bunch: NFO Sebastian Prieto and his wonderful team of GB handballers: Bobby White, Chris McDermot, John Pearce, Mark Hawkins and Ciaran Williams. Chloe Rogers, this is as close to an Olympic medal as I’m ever going to get, thank you. Kate Allenby, you are awesome, thank you and the wonderful team at GB Pentathlon, Sarah Langridge, Heather Fell, Katy Livingston and Katie Burke for basically the best day ever.
An assortment of colleagues for putting up with me over the last year and letting me leave early on a couple of occasions: Gareth, Fern, Sam, Alex, and extra special thanks to my mate Jamie for his economics advice and for teaching me how to catch. Sort of.
Penultimate shout out is to Maya Freedman who spawned this ludicrous idea then promptly effed off to Australia. You are bloody good at ideas, I think you might go far in life…
And last, but by no means least, to important OCJOG Lady, Ruth Brown, who literally endured HOURS sitting next to me on an exercise bike listening to me wang on about media engagements, my sporting woe, and some daft lad who’s unknowingly partly responsible for all this (you can wait for the book for that story). I regret that you’re not on the medal table, but clearly, you deserve one of the biggest medals of all time, I hope you will settle for several glasses of wine.
Here’s a montage…