Now the dust has settled from Rome I am able to make an objective review of my performances at the meet and my progress towards London 2012.
The week had a mixture of emotions for me. Firstly, shock/fear after the heats of the 400m Freestyle on day 1 – as soon as I finished I thought I might not place top 8 and therefore miss the final. Secondly, elation after winning a bronze medal in the final that night and swimming a best time of over 2 seconds faster than my performance to win in Beijing. Thirdly, fulfilment in winning a bronze medal in the 4×200 Freestyle relay, after the disappointment of not qualifying for the final of the event in Beijing we were able to banish our demons. My final emotion was being distraught after placing 4th in the 800m Freestyle, the event which I am world record holder in. Following my successes earlier in the week and some of my performances earlier in the year I expected to at least medal in the 800m. To come away 4th, the worst position possible just outside of the medals, was very hard to take, especially given the additional exposure I have had in the past year and during the Championships themselves.
Since coming home, I have been able to discuss my performances with my Coach and reflect both on the lead up to the Championships and the event itself. The results from Rome prove that I have more speed than I did a year ago but less stamina, my 400m has improved whilst my 800m has slightly declined. This is due to a shift in focus in my training to more speed work as opposed to the endurance work I was focusing on prior to Beijing. Due to other commitments, particularly in the 4 months immediately after Beijing, I struggled to train at the level I needed to.
I wouldn’t change a thing and feel incredibly grateful for the position I have found myself in following my success in Beijing but, in order to continue with my training at the level I need to be at to compete internationally, I have had to make some difficult decisions. I will now be more selective about the events I attend – something that will be really hard for me as there are so many worthwhile causes and events I would love to support and go to. Unfortunately whilst I’m still in full training there just aren’t enough hours in the week to do all the training, get the rest I require and attend the majority of these. Therefore, with the help of my team I will meet all of my commitments to the charity I support and my sponsors but you will probably see a bit less of me in the media.
Ever since I returned from Beijing I have talked about the fact that it was a 4 year plan to London in 2012, now 3 years, and that given I was only 19 at the time I would have lots to learn over the coming years. Given the whirlwind that the past 12 months has been, I have probably never fully sat back and reflected on how my life has changed and how I will need to adapt. Since the final of the 800m in Rome I have had the chance to do this and now feel more at ease with the expectation upon me, massively grateful for all the support I have received and even more determined as I prepare for the Commonwealth Games next year and beyond to London 2012. I am 100% committed to my swimming and will continue to give it my all.