Dear Future Olympian,
The Olympics are the ultimate experience; the top of the ladder, the greatest sporting feat for an athlete. A rare few can call themselves Olympians so congratulations and welcome to the club. It can be a nerve-wracking time leading into the big event but suck it all in as it flies by in an instant.
The opening ceremony sets the stage for what is about to come. I went to my first opening ceremony in Sydney. You tend to wait around a lot as the main show kicks off, while you are held behind the scenes. Once released into the stadium the euphoric atmosphere and screaming crowd will fill your ears with a noise that you will never forget. The flashing lights and theatrics that go on around you mean you leave the night feeling adrenalin-filled and ready to fire for your own event.
The village itself is variable, but we aren’t there on a holiday, so just enjoy the array of nations and personalities that fly past you. It's incredible to see the difference amongst athletes in the packed dinning halls; from the petite gymnasts carefully selecting their portions, to the throwers mounting their plates or the 6ft 8 volley ballers peering down at even me. The nights can be noisy as athletes celebrate their achievements or get rowdy in defeat. Sleeping really can be a challenge but the buzz certainly adds to the atmosphere.
I had a count down on my wall until the heats, crossing off each day as we approached. The butterflies doubled in number with every passing day. I think this is normal and if you suffer from nerves for me it means you are ready. It shows you want it enough and you’re perfectly positioned to use all the hard training yards you persevered through until now. If it’s been a bumpy road just look forward, you have done everything you can. Back home we are all so proud of you, that no matter what the outcome, it’s a bonus.
The main event will be tough but it’s the Olympic Games!!!! I would be worried if it wasn’t. Of my three Olympics the experience varied so widely. In my first I was 17 and just happy to be wearing the green and gold. In my second I wanted to win and in my third I was competing in bobsled, in an entirely different sport where it was all about being part of a team. With each of them came mixed emotions; from purely loving the Sydney games and thriving in the atmosphere, to the utter devastation after injury in Athens and finishing 5th, to the exhilaration of 150km an hour on ice. My final Olympics definitely holds the most joy for me. I guess with age and having missed a few summer games with injury, I finally realised the privilege we have in representing our country.
Breathe it in, suck it all up, live in the moment, do your best, be grateful and above all be proud of yourself for such an amazing achievement.
I will finish with my favourite quote... ‘Training is like building a fire. Every day you add a log, until one day you light the flame’. In the Olympics it's time to burn!!! Good luck :)
Yours in sport,
Two times World Champion, Four times Commonwealth Champion, in the sport of athletics, Jana Pittman swapped the track for the ice, joining the Australian Women’s bobsleigh team, to become the first women to represent Australia in both a Summer and Winter Olympic games.
Jana is now studying a Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery at the University of Western Sydney. She is mum to 8 yr old Cornelis and little sister Emily, born this year in April. She also runs her own health, fitness and motivational speaking business
Follow Jana Pittman on Twitter @JanaPittman