THE BBC Olympic trails remind viewers that getting to the world’s biggest sporting event ain’t all glamour and glory for the athletes.
We’re prompted to remember that it’s about those hours we don’t see the athletes put in – the getting-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn hours, the training-in-all-weathers hours, the overcoming-whatever-adversities hours, the sacrifices-every-athlete-must-make hours…
And as for getting to stand on a podium, well that takes a very special sort of dedication.
This image, taken not long after Becky Adlington had won two Olympic gold medals in Beijing in 2008, sums up – or at least attempts to sum up – the two worlds every successful Olympian must inhabit: a background of graft juxtaposed with a foreground of glamour.
Just before I took it, Becky had been training in Nottingham University’s pool; though the word ‘training’ seems a pretty flimsy way to describe the effort required to cut through water à la Adlington.
As I didn’t have an Olympic podium handy I had to make do with what was lying around for the photograph; which turned out to be six training floats, or whatever those things are called that Olympic swimmers hold on to as they use their feet as outboard motors.
Becky didn’t bat an eyelash. Having just burned off about 3000 calories in the pool, she was all smiles when I asked her to pose on a polystyrene podium in mandatory plastic overshoes.
Her attitude then was worthy of a medal as far as I was concerned. But I suspect she’ll be packing more than a winning smile when she defends her crowns during London 2012, kicking off today.