Friday, 17 August 2012

The London 2012 Olympics - Part 2

The next day I flew into London Gatwick with Holly Bleasdale, the mens relays and a few others. The reception at Gatwick was unbelievable – even though Gatwick wasn't even a official London 2012 airport! There were crowds of people all cheering a taking pictures, it was a really weird experience. Me and Holly also got the chance to get a picture with Ronan Keating (of Boyzone). I was far too excited about the fact he was on our plane and chased after him to get a pic. This trip has been a 90's child dream as you see later on. I've managed to watch the Spice Girls and Take That (both at the Opening Ceremony) and get pictures with both Ronan (Boyzone) and Duncan from Blue. Amazing.

The security getting into and around the village was absolutely flawless. The queues were small and everything was done quickly and smoothly. Me and one of the athletes did a survey for the IOC (in order to get a free olympic badge!) and we honestly couldn't rate any part of the village or our experience less than 9 or 10 out of 10.

Me and Adam Gemili were on the bus driving to our accommodation and he literally could not shut his mouth. Not due to speaking but due to the fact he was in so much shock at how amazing it all was (as was I)! The village is really strange as absolutely everything is brand spanking new and fresh. The pavements are all sparkling clean and the grass is literally like something out of the Teletubbies.
Team GB House

Our apartments were pretty nice too. There were some reports of the beds being extremely small but at 5'11 I fitted in perfectly, (even though on the BBC website and wikipedia it states on my official stats that i'm 5'1.... they made a vital mistake missing out that extra 1!). I was sharing my room with Julia Bleasdale (5k) and the rest of our apartment with Lynsey Sharp (800m), Sophie Hitchon (HT), Margaret Adeoye (200m) and Emily Diamond (4x4). We were lucky enough to have a room with a huge balcony and it was amazing being able to hear the cheers from the Olympic Stadium! Absolute madness – but if I'm honest it made me extremely nervous about competing on one of the first days of competition.
Signing the wall

The food hall was about the size of 4 football pitches with every single type of meal you could possibly think of (and also some things you could never imagine.. weird). It was split into different sections and every part was open 24/7. It also included a McDonald's and a McCafe. Around the village there were vending machines dispensing free water/innocent smoothies/powerade/coke/fanta etc... again all the Olympic Sponsors.
What is this?!

The medical centre was like nothing I had ever seen. It was specifically for Team GB only and completely separate from the busy village gym. It included several consultation rooms/physio rooms, huge ice baths and a sauna. Amazing facilities.

Behind the medical centre there was a separate outdoor eating zone called 'casual dining.' This was open during the day only and provided fresh wraps along with several treats from different parts of the UK. Without being biased the Scottish stall was BY FAR the best treats. Shortbread, fudge and strawberries. Every single athlete I spoke to agreed!

Around the village there were several really random statues (although i'm sure they do have some meaning) – like a gorilla and a tortoise?! The iconic Olympic rings were also standing tall in the middle of the village. A lot of the athletes I spoke to were considering getting the rings tattooed on them to mark their first olympic games. Me being the pansy that I am, couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. Although one day, if I grow the balls to get on with it – i'm thinking next to my ribs, underneath where my crop top would be the best place.
The International Zone in the Olympic Village was the only area where certain accredited people and media could come into. There was a games area with pool tables and music, a completely free salon to get your hair and nails done then all the normal services like a post office and bank. It really was like living within a tiny, secure bubble for two weeks!

For me, my competition didn't go as planned. I am usually never nervous about racing but I felt heavy and flat warming up but put it down to nerves. At one point, whilst sitting on the warm up track I actually felt sick thinking about my race. I shouldn’t of allowed myself to get so worried as I knew I was in the best physical shape of my life and there were no expectations on me – I just had to go out there and run a personal best time. Unfortunately for me, that didn’t happen and I ran one of my poorest race this year. At the age of 21, to have made my first major championship and for that championship to be an Olympic games – a home Olympic Games! It was a massive step up and one that I will never ever forget. I has also had some problems with my feet the week previously and again I was just constantly over-thinking things on each barrier and water jump causing myself to act very cautiously and stutter into every one, loosing valuable time and ground.

The whole experience has made me more determined to sort these little things out. Charles Van Comenee had a stern but nice chat with me after my race and he was completely right in everything he said. I 'gave the other athletes too much respect' and 'didn't believe in my own abilities'. But one thing he did say to me (and it is something that will stick in my head for the next few years) is that with a full winter training , no injuries and with starting some barrier and hurdle technique a few times a week that I would be 'the only athlete in that entire field, capable of taking 30 seconds off my time'. This is obviously a huge positive. My highest mileage is at 58 miles a week due to injury but I am trying to compete against girls on 90-100 miles a week. This is a huge difference – but it is something that cant be achieved instantly but can slowly be built on over the next few years.

Reading twitter/facebook after I had competed was really nice. The amount of comments, tweets and emails was totally overwhelming. From people I had never meant in my life, there words were so, so kind and almost had me in tears on several occasions! I did however have a few (very few) nasty tweets although they were too scared to tag me in it (yes... that meant I searched for my name on twitter – I couldn't help it!). So anyway, I decided to retweet the few horrible posts, one along the lines of 'Eilish McColgan is a lanky twat', to find that the next day I received a few apologies stating they were just jealous and to find that all of the tweets had been deleted. 1-0 McColgan. To be honest though the rest were pretty funny and did make me laugh. After tweeting some of the other athletes names on Team GB, I definitely got away very lightly with mine!

The next day I was pretty down about my performance and felt a bit guilty that both my parents and my boyfriend had travelled all the way to watch my race and I had underperformed. It was also a bit frustrating watching everyone else still competing when I was going back into full training again for the rest of the season. At one point I even considered flying home a week early in order to just get back into my normal routine and daily life but after sleeping on it, I realised that would be a ridiculous decision and one I would end up regretting immediately. I am extremely fortunate to have even made the Olympic Team this year after the roller-coaster of last year and so to miss the opportunity of the whole games would have been idiotic.

Track session
Instead of training down at the warm up track I took the 40min walk (trek) to the nearest grass track where my mum was staying (don't worry, she wasn’t camping out at the track – as much as she loves athletics...she was staying in a tiny, staff hotel nearby courtesy of the work she was doing for the BBC and Asics). I did 3 grass sessions that week – it was the first time since I broke my foot last year of running on grass and I was seriously struggling. One of my sessions was 12x 400m with what was meant to be a minute recovery although Big Liz didn't tell me until afterwards that she had actually cut it down to 45 seconds! No wonder I was on the brink of having a major heart attack! That sneaky little....bit...less!
Cadbury House.... nom

The Personalised Kg of chocolate! ahhhh!
As more and more people finished competing it was great to get the chance to explore around the village and take a trip shopping into Westfield. Myself and Howell took a trip to Hyde Park to explore around the BT Live sites (and more importantly Cadbury House). It was amazing and makes me realise how much I am actually addicted to chocolate. The general manager invited me to go along to the real Cadbury World next time I am in or around Birmingham – cannot wait!

After about 18 months of not drinking one drop of alcohol or entering into a pub/nightclub – I seriously made up for it within the space of three days. But we all had such a great time and really did enjoy ourselves. Having our olympic accreditation allowed us straight into nightclubs for free with reserved tables and free champagne – which would usually be extortionately priced and takes hours of queuing to get into.

Pozzi, me, Holly and Kat
The first place we went to was actually a 'secret gig' within the Olympic Park. As I am a total loser and don't have any contacts, Kat (Heptathlon) and Holly Bleasedale (PV) managed to get me on the guest list. It was hosted by Mark Ronson in conjunction with Coca-cola and was literally one of the coolest things i've ever been to! As everyone went home from their night at the Games we were wandering in and walked around what we thought was a statue – up to a floor top terrace where the event was being held. You could see right the way round the Olympic Park which was pretty sweet.
J and B

After deciding to leave the Mark Ronson Party we headed on the tubes into central London to Mahiki. Outside paparazzi were lined up along the road, waiting (or hoping) for a big star to fall over outside or get their bum out but thankfully for me they had no idea who the hell I was, clearly not big time enough for them to even bat an eyelid. Hahaha. It was one of the funniest nights i've had in a long time and made me sad to think that the six of us that were out, probably won't see each other again for a very long time! Every one of us was under the age of 22 though – so it's looking good for Glasgow 2014 and Rio 2016. I've promised them all that the Glasgow Commonwealth will be epic!

Duncan from Blueeee!!
The following night we attended yet another event at the Omega House this time. It was like walking into a casting for 'I'm a celebrity..get me out of here'. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (who might I add, stated I had a fantastic pair of legs.. she may have been wasted but i'm taking it as a compliment), Duncan from Blue (childhood dream), Amber from Made in Chelsea, Caroline Flack (yes, the one who dated Harry Styles!!) and then Athletics favourite (and former T4 presenter) Rick Edwards – whom I think I may be in love with. So yes, it was a pretty cool evening.

Closing Ceremony.

I couldn’t believe that we missed the first 20minutes of the closing ceremony but more so, I couldn't believe that, when One Direction were playing, we were made to wait inside! As soon as the music began there were hundreds of female athletes from all different countries running out of there little pens and into the stadium to catch a glimpse of the boy-band. Pretty funny to watch. All of the male athletes didn’t understand what was going on but to be honest they got there few minutes of happiness watching the absolutely stunning girls dressed as angels sitting on the side of the stage later on – no idea who they were, by the way, or what part they played within the whole ceremony. But anyways, the whole experience was amazing but i'm sure it looked a million times better on TV as with standing, you don't get the full 3D view of whats going on.
Me with the subway gang - Anthony Ogogo and Holly Bleasedale

Watching the Spice Girls brought back flooding memories of when I used to wander around Primary School wearing my spice girls watch, thinking it was the coolest thing ever. I'm not even ashamed to admit, I had a cardboard cut out of them in my room – I was nine. It was also nice to see I was not alone with my excitement, the girls from Algeria were going wild and singing along word for word to them too.

Rio 2016 has a tough act to follow but after seeing there part at the Closing Ceremony – I am certain they will pull off something amazing also. Everyone who took part in organising and making London 2012 happen, have done an unbelievable job! They truly have put on one of the most amazing spectacles that the world has ever seen and i'm sure it is something that people will remember for the rest of their lives.

helloooooo Tom Daley!
After the closing ceremony, everyone was absolutely starving after being on their feet for 5 hours straight and so the only cure was clearly the 24/7 McDonald's. It made life a lot easier and less guilty having Mo Farah (DOUBLE OLYMPIC CHAMPION!!!!- amazing!!) standing in the queue with me, persuading me to have a McFlurry as he was disgusted at the fact I had never previously tried one! Best decision ever... Although after not having McDonald's for over a year, I did engulf 3 within 4 days.

Mo Farah rocking a casual lightbulb hat
Team GB held there own private outdoor party in the casual dining area . It was actually a really good evening where all the staff and athletes could come together and celebrate the games finishing. The only weird thing was the fact we were all dressed in identical clothing like little red smurfs. Dancing away to Sean Paul (and a selection of other artists) whilst wearing red trainers, red chinos and a blazer was a weird experience for everyone.

Me and KJT
Rossco Murray and myself
Me, Adam Gemili and KJT
Traveling through Heathrow Airport on the way home was pretty cool. They had opened a separate terminal for athletes to check into and had made it into a 'little London'. With grass everywhere, London street signs and the Queen's Guards outside a red phone box! Again everything was smooth and quick and I was on my way home in no time. To be honest, it was actually quite sad leaving the village. You get into a little routine of seeing the same people every day, doing your daily training and having a huge selection of food whenever you want! You totally forget about your every day life and have almost no responsibilities apart from looking after yourself. Anytime we decided to leave the village, people were queueing up outside the entrances to take photos or sign autographs - it was a really weird situation to be in, almost like we were little animals in the zoo kept in the village behind a massive wall the whole way around, keeping us locked up from everything else outside! Coming back home to the thought of part-time work and to the start of the second half of my university year is horrible. I wish I could stay in the village for ever (obviously add a few of my family in there too) – it would be perfect. But unfortunately all good things come to an end. The olympic blues have kicked in, there is genuinely nothing to watch on the TV anymore and the next Olympics is in 4 years! Many people think athletes just go into hibernation and appear again in 2016 but that is clearly not the case. My aims are already set on making the World Championship team next year in Moscow 2013 with the Commonwealth Games closely following behind in 2014. Training never stops.

I still have a few more races left before finishing my 2012 season. Depending on how they go – I would like to fit in a PB over 1500m and 3000m flat before the end of the season (with possibly one 800m somewhere, in order to get rid of my PB from when I was 14!!). My last steeplechase will be in Slovakia next weekend (26th Aug) and then (fingers crossed) my last race will be mid-sept at the New York 5th Avenue Mile. I was down to race there last year but never got the opportunity to due to injury – it's always something I have wanted to do so fingers crossed I can carry on my season till then and finish on a high.  

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The London Olympics - Part 1 - Pre-camp

The past three weeks have been truly amazing. It has been far better than I could of ever imagined and the whole experience is something that I will never, ever forget. I can not explain how grateful I am to have been selected as part of this team, Team GB! Although I was unhappy with my performance and disappointed not to produce a better time – I would like to thank everyone for their support and kind messages along the way. If some one told me five years ago, when it was announced that London had won the bid, that I would have even a minuscule chance of making the team – I would of laughed at them, a lot. And to even think that it would be possible, only ONE year after breaking my foot and having surgery – is an achievement in itself! This for me has been a massive stepping stone towards the next few years. 

Although every member of the general public is behind the Olympics (and rightly so), sport and especially athletics doesn't stop! Every year there are major championships for us, wether it be Europeans, Commonwealth or Worlds. Fortunately for many of us young-ins we have two more home games to look forward to! Moscow- 2013, Glasgow 2014, Beijing 2015, Rio 2016, London 2017 are (hopefully) the next stops within our athletics calendar. The games have only made me more determined than ever to make every little improvement I can. It gives you the chance to witness top class athletes and evaluate how the gap from you to them can be closed - if ever so slightly!

As the Olympics was obviously such a huge event in my life – and the fact that so many things happened along the way - I will split my blog into several smaller parts (so bare with me!). Hopefully I can give some insight into what it really is like being part of a home games and share some videos and pictures! There have been some hilarious moments and I have met some of the most amazing people through this trip – it's actually been really sad to leave it all behind and get back to the normal daily grind again, knowing like nothing like this will ever happen again. Every single person I have met through Team GB have been lovely and that really is the honest truth. I am extremely proud to be a part of this team and what they have achieved along with all the volunteers, officials and supporters. It has been unbelievable. Rio 2016 definitely have their work cut out.

Portugal Holding Camp

As many of you know, all of athletics were based out in Monte Gordo, Portugal – 10 days prior to competing in the Olympic Games. I am not fully aware of the reason behind this, perhaps to get everyone away from the media attention of a home games etc.. but it really did work well. The whole camp was totally relaxed and gave me the chance to be a full time athlete for the 10 days I was there. It also made a huge change getting a bit of warm weather for once!

The previous week I had set a new Personal Best over 1500m at the Stretford BMC. It was a PB by a around a second – but I was disappointed with it. After not getting out quick enough over the first 200m, I found myself stuck behind the field of 18 girls! This meant that I ran wide for the majority of the race and really only started to focus and knuckle down over the last 150m... a typical Eilish manoeuvre.

I had two of my best ever sessions out in Portugal – which is why I was so disappointed not to preform at my best at the Olympic Games. I know i'm in the best shape of my life and so I was frustrated not to have shown it on the biggest sporting occasion going!

I asked one of the coaches George Gandy to film some of my session so that I could send it back to Big Liz (coach) – but after my session was over, I came back to find a 6minute video of the grass and George's feet.... bless him. He tried!

As all of the athletes were out in Portugal we actually missed the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Initially I was a bit gutted about missing the whole experience of my first ever major championships (and the fact it was an Olympics!) but to be honest, it was in the athletes best interest to miss it. It involves a lot of standing around for hours on end and for athletes wanting to compete at their best - it is not the best preparation. Luckily for us, we all got together as one big team to watch it live on a huge screen in the hotel theatre. Wearing our matching space outfits, sorry.. I mean Opening Ceremony outfits, we all watched the events together! In the beginning I had no idea what the hell was going on. There was grass all over the track and sheep running all about the place but someone soon explained to me the reasoning behind it all!
Myself and Jack Green
Laura Weightman and me

If i'm honest, I think Danny Boyle did a great job. It was weird and wonderful but had all the underlying history of what makes Britain, Great Britain. We were all given silly Olympic glasses to wear for our official team photo – one of the best freebies i've had so far. Haha.

Rocking our Aladin outfits
Lynsey Sharp, me, Emily Diamond
The motivational speeches were presented by Charles Van Comenee and Dai Greene – our team captain. There has been a lot of media interest in wether CVC will leave UK Athletics this season after missing his target of 8 medals. Personally, I really hope he doesn't. 7 medals is a great achievement and team GB came 4th in the athletics medal table! Yes, sometimes people think Charles can be harsh but I think this is sometimes mistaken for honesty. He is completely black and white with what he says and doesn't take excuses. He has always been extremely positive towards me and has given me some good advice towards what I need to improve in order to make my next step forward in the future.

Anyways, back to the Olympics!

My last easy run in Portugal was definitely one to remember. Many of my family and friends were texting me in a panic after it was reported by the media that I had been hit by a car – which was completely... true! Some 'smart' people on twitter were slagging me off saying I should have been running on the pavement or that I should of 'watched where I was going' but I will clear all of that up now. There were no pavements as we were based out in the countryside of portugal. The roads were all very quiet and so for my easy runs I would go out jogging alone. I was running on a mile long stretch of straight road – facing the traffic – when a small white van came up behind me. The lady was driving quite fast and panicked as she got closer to me as I turned my head around to look at how far away the car was. The next thing I remember is the van braking harshly and swerving towards the opposite side of the road and clipping me. Thankfully the van was slowing down rapidly and only knocked the bottom of my feet and legs. I fell onto her bonnet but managed to push myself up and carry on running. I must of looked like a complete nutter though, as when she got out her car – crying and screaming – I quietly got up, turned around and starting sprinting away!

I ran a further 2 miles home completely pain free. The only problem I had, the next morning, was a slight stiffness within my lower back. The physios and massage therapists are amazing though and really do work wonders for all the athletes out on the camp. During my race I did get a little bit of cramp through my left hip and lower back but I have no idea wether it was linked to the accident or not – it could of purely been nerves and over-thinking!

Kitting out Process

The kitting out process was pretty cool although it did take over 4 hours to get through the whole thing! It involved getting changed several times over and over again, trying on every single piece of clothing that we were about to receive, for the correct sizes. Ultimately it was like a massive shopping experience – wandering through different rooms to get to more clothes – Adidas, Next then the Competition Kit. A females dream... the boys weren't as happy.

Unfortunately as we were one of the last groups of people to kitting out – some of our sizes were a bit off. The funniest thing I tried on was the 'GB casual skirt' – I was meant to have a size 6/8 but the smallest size they had left was a size 12. I went to the changing rooms to put it on and as soon as I moved the curtain out the way -everyone burst out laughing at me as this 'skirt' was hanging off me around my knees. If I had gone outside I would have been done for indecent exposure as my bum was hanging out!

The amount of kit is unbelievable though! It really is amazing how much you get given – I have no idea where i'm going to put it all. From bathrobes to flip flops, there is literally every item you could possibly think of! We also got given an unique iPod from BMW and a pair of sport headphones from Panasonic – both Olympic Sponsors.

During the kitting out experience there were loads of random things to sign and opportunity’s to get your photo taken. I have no idea where all these pictures go but I was told they eventually get put into large books and put into museums?! No idea how true that is.. haha. We also got a cast of our foot and hand which apparently also goes into some museum as we are now Olympians – pretty cool.

The last event of the day was the Adidas 'Take the Stage' photo booth. Every single person in Team GB had to get an individual picture taken. We then got the opportunity to take in some of the props they have... silly things like pirate hats, funny glasses, rubber ducks. It was pretty fun to be honest. I wish I had one of these booths in my flat.