Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Race

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gallery02I’m back!

I left my blog in a place where I had absolutely no idea of what was going to happen over the next week. I’d begun Official Training and knew I was on a good path towards medalling at the Olympics, but as I’d already said; “Training is training, racing is racing, and I have a lot of practicing to do here. I do know one thing though – I will never give up.”

I began to get quite nervous on Wednesday 12th, the day before the race. By this point I’d done all I could, I’d tried all the different sled set-ups and had a definite lines in the corners for the biggest race of my life. I texted my best friend, “I’m feeling quite nervous about tomorrow, I have to tell you. I can’t tell anyone else.” I felt really silly for worrying and feeling so anxious. I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation now that every job had essentially been done and it was all on me to win the race- win the race I’d been wanting to win all of my life.

I packed about 6 speed suits into my track bag, my crash helmet, spare visors, scissors, tape, screwdrivers, food, water, spare clothes, chewing gum, tissues, hairbands,  2 skipping ropes, earphones, backup earphones, 2 phones, and an Ipod. What ever I could control – it was under control! I left for the track on the 13th February pretty early, so early that I’d brought my breakfast back to my room the night before to avoid the queues in the athlete food hall.  I got into the bus taking us all to the track and settled down to read my book. I remember listening to Elena Nikitena’s Russian pop music blaring out, it was certainly very different to the music I listen to! Everyone around me was doing the same things as me, focus, relax…we were all there to compete and all there to win.

From this point in the race was exactly the same as any other race. I begin my warm up an hour and a half before my first run, I study the ice temperatures, decide my sled set up for the day, and watch the spur sleds exit the start spur to check it’s sending the sled straight going into the first corner. After the first run and being in first place I, as normal, put my head down for a mini nap and ate some food. For the second run a went into the same skipping warm up, putting my bib and gloves all on correctly and went to the start block and did my thing.

I left the Sanki Centre with a tidy 0.44 second lead on Noelle, some would say quite a substantial lead. Noelle had missed some training with concussion and I know from the whole World Cup season that she can be a tough athlete to beat. As well as Noelle, there was Elena joined with both other Russian women as well as Katie Uhlaender from the USA all breathing down my neck. What does one do during the over night gap between the two most important days of your life? Watch Poirot.

February 14th allowed a little lie-in for the team. I headed up to the top of the mountain with Kay and Rachel to ‘get away’, secretly just wanting to take some gorgeous pics of the snow and sunny skies and have a real good chinwag! I came back and headed into the gym to keep myself busy, and then to bed for a few hours sleep. The athletes’ life is one of purposeful practice in every part extending to the food I consume, and the amount and timing of fluid I take on all carefully orchestrated.

Run 3 went as planned, I put down another storming time and maintained the track record for a second day. I knew the others were coming down after me so I needed to wait a little while until I knew the time difference of all the competitors.

The gap had increased to 0.78 seconds.

This is when I realised that it wasn’t just any old race, I realised how much I really wanted this and how hard I had trained for such a long time for this moment. I knew one thing-  I was never going to give up.

 

Gold

Lizzy x

Official Training day 1

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Lizzy-Launch1Usually I hate early mornings. It’s a key element to elite performance for an athlete getting enough rest and recovery, which is a hard thing to understand as we’re perceived at being fit, healthy, and good at everything! I sleep at least 8 hours every night and make sure I eat about 4 or 5 times everyday. I have honed my ability to slide head first down the skeleton track and be physically strong and good at sprinting, but there are also lots of things I’m not very good at.

Today I spent a bit of time watching the downhill racing, moguls, and curling, all events that are totally beyond my own sporting ability. I remember when I was in school I would join every after school club, every sports team, and try to learn to play the piano and sing. Living in a relatively remote area my primary school only had 20 or so students in each class, giving me a pretty good chance of being involved in all the school plays. I would audition for quite central roles, believing that I could give it as good a go as anyone else. I always got the ‘tree number 2’ role, credit to my branch and leaf swaying skills. It wasn’t until I was about 11 years old that I realized that my gift was being determined, being committed to be my best. I had a natural affinity to sports because I knew I could learn a trick or skill if I just kept practicing, and I did.

I was selected for the National Prep Schools competition for the high jump and shot putt which was hosted at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. The primary school sports teachers and I did research on the shuffle shot putt technique and Frosby-flop for the high jump, and spent every lunch time down at the athletics track practicing. I recall a single moment of looking over to all my friends playing together and hearing them scream and shout in excitement, and here I was focused on jumping 1.50m instead of 1.45m, and I unquestionably knew that this is where I wanted to be. I wanted to see how good I could be at something, and I knew that if I didn’t give up and I trained harder than anyone else, then I might just get there.

It wasn’t hard to get up out of bed in the end, because it was the start of the Official Training for the Olympics. 2 runs each day over 3 days, racing on Thursday and Friday.

Training is training, racing is racing, and I know that I have a lot of practicing to do here before I compete. I do know one thing though – I will never give up.

Lizzy x

The XXII Winter Olympics have begun

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Sochi-blog1A story for Saturday 8th February 2014, Day 1

Saturday was a sliding day! I had forgotten how much I love to train until I spend a few days not doing it. We were on the track by 11am and finished in plenty of time to watch the slopestyle final in the changing rooms at the track. I have met Billy and Jamie a few times and was impressed that they were both able to do themselves justice in the competition, they didn’t let the Olympic environment get in the way of a great performance- ‘never let perfection come in the way of a good performance’. With Jamie’s 6th place finish and Billy’s 10th, it was a really good start for TeamGB especially as this was a new Olympic sport.

I’m finding my feet in the Olympic Village, taking my book up to read in the shopping plaza area and getting a few snacks from the shop. Walking around the Village and being surrounded by the best athletes in the world in their events is a massive privilege and it motivates me even more to try and do my very best on the skeleton track.

I’ve got a day off on Sunday and am hoping to go and watch Aimee Fuller and Jenny Jones compete in snowboard slopestyle, as well as resting up for our skeleton official training which starts on Monday!

Sochi-blog2

Photo thanks to Jamie Nicholls.

Lizzy x

I’m here- it has begun – this is it.

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Sochip-Plane

Approaching Sochi!

The past week of settling into the Olympic task ahead was a lot stranger that I’d thought it would be. Since I started to really believe that I could qualify for the Olympics I’d been rehearsing each individual part of the Olympic Dream. From finishing the World Cup circuit, the kitting out, interviews, packing my bags in my flat, flying with the rest of TeamGB out to Sochi and arriving in the Athlete Village. None of these events happened how I imagined they would. It transpired that all of the jobs that I would usually do within a weeks break back in the UK would be set as normal- food shopping, sprint training, weight training, seeing my family etc. All of these ‘normal’ things were surrounded by very abnormal conversations about the Winter Olympics, my first Olympics, my hopes and expectations and my partner in crime Mervyn.

I spent one afternoon training and lifting close to my personal best in the gym, running around full of adrenaline and pumped for the session, and then straight over to the City of Bath for a sponsors evening in a cocktail dress, excusing myself for a sneeze of cough. These two roles of my job as an athlete are polar opposites, with the best way of explaining how a ‘nice young lady’ throws herself down the ice shoot at 90mph is that I become a very different animal when it’s time to train. Stepping into the BOA kitting out room and seeing all the wonderful lounging and performance wear which’ll help me on the days when I need it most, was like another job ticked off the list. When I step towards an interviewer laden with cameras and microphones I become the articulate, warm, and approachable Lizzy intent on trying to inspire someone who might just catch an interview or read the paper. As soon as I arrived at Heathrow my body and mind went into the travelling groove; getting hydrated and fuelled ready for the journey with lots of regular movement and stretching.

The Olympic Dream which I though this would be is so different to what I have experienced so far. I am intent on doing my best; I get up early and am often the first to breakfast and the first to pack my bags- only 2 days before training this week! And when I give myself a moment to lift my head up and look around, tears flow down my cheeks with pride. There is no where in the World I would rather be and no one else I’d rather share this with than my beautiful family and my team here who all give me so much strength.

I’d like to share this journey with you all. Not through twitter updates and quick photos or comments here and there, but through my story written properly. I will show you my life over each and every day that I am here, I will tell you the truth and bring you into my life.

Thank you all for your ongoing support. We are here- we made it begin- this is it.

Lizzy x