What a whirlwind of a fortnight. I cannot believe how quickly it has gone! In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, I am of course talking about the Olympics, by the way. My god, London. You absolutely nailed it. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for putting on such an amazing show. Not only am I incredibly proud to be British, but I’m also equally proud to be from the city where it all happened. I’m still so overjoyed to have been a part of it!
I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks for obvious reasons, and I’ve decided it is high time that I posted again. I thought I’d share some of my personal best bits from the Games this time. However, these aren’t the bits that everyone gets to see. Of course I had an amazing time actually competing and watching others compete, but that’s just a given. I think I’ve done about a hundred interviews in which I’ve talked about those. These are some of the ‘behind the scenes’ highlights for me.
Disclaimer: some bits of this are brutally honest, so if you’d like to carry on believing that athletes are wonderful, virtuous creatures who are incapable of sin, please stop reading now. Now, if you choose to continue, you can’t say you haven’t been warned.
So here goes, the highlights of the Games from an athlete’s perspective.
1) 24h food hall
Anything I want. At any hour of the day. For free. This came in particularly handy when doing the walk of shame back from a club or something at about 6am, when all you really wanted was a free Big Mac. I can feel you all losing respect for me as I type, but that’s fine cause it was wicked at the time.
2) Everything being free
I’m a bit worried that I’m going to become an accidental kleptomaniac now I’m out of the village as I don’t think I’ve actually paid for anything for a while. I was talking to another athlete (whose name I won’t mention) and they already admitted to accidentally just taking a Powerade out of a fridge at one of the competition venues. Clearly, its easily done!
3) Guilt-free partying
I won’t lie, in the real world I go out occasionally. Nothing wild, just a few drinks with friends mostly. Occasionally we’ll hit a club and be home by about 2am, but these occasions are few and far between. During the Olympics, I think I partied more than I slept. After my competition, I think I had all of 2 nights where I didn’t actually go out. I think the same applies for most athletes! However, as my competition finished at the beginning of the first week, I may have had a wee bit longer to do so than a lot of them. And why shouldn’t we? We’d just done the biggest competition of our lives, so why not celebrate/drown our sorrows? We have to be sensible for the majority of the year, so a post-Olympic bender was completely necessary.
4) VIP access to everything
I did try not to abuse my accreditation during the Games. When I forgot my Oyster card, I paid for a ticket rather than using the “I forgot my Oyster card and need to be back in the village ASAP, please let me through the gate” sob story. I waited in queues rather than attempting to flash my pass for speedy service. I didn’t ask for any discounts or anything for free. I’m not asking for a round of applause, as that’s what I should do anyway, but I know that a lot of people did try and wrangle some free stuff. However, a lot of people did choose to treat us like Gods anyway. We were VIP in quite a few big clubs, and free drinks were constantly thrown our way. Not literally thrown, that’d be dangerous, but you catch my drift. A couple of taxis didn’t charge me my full fare (or any fare at all) in exchange for a photograph – I find that funny as I would in no way count myself as famous or anything! When waiting to get into a bar/restaurant once, the bouncer tried not to let us in as we only wanted a couple of drinks and no food. Then another member of staff pointed out that we were the “GB weightlifters”, and the bouncer immediately apologised profusely and let us in. I felt a bit bad to be honest!
5) Bumping into legends on a daily basis
The thing with being one big team is that nobody feels ‘above’ anybody else, regardless of whether they’ve won a medal or not, are super famous or are just generally very cool. After my competition, Pete (our 94kg lifter) gave me a giant bag of Malteasers. I happily stuffed my face with them while waiting to get in the lift. When it arrived I had a face full of Malteasers. The doors opened to reveal the majority of the British cycling team, to which I almost choked through embarrassment. I muttered something about looking like “the worst athlete ever”, to which we all laughed, and Sir Chris Hoy struck up a conversation with me. He actually knew who I was, which to me was amazing! And that’s when it clicked that we were all one team, all Olympians and all had the same right to be there.
6) All my new friends
I think the best part of my entire experience at the Olympics was all the new friends I made. There are so many anecdotes I could write here, but I won’t so as not to bore anyone (I can imagine quite a lot of these being ‘you had to be there’ moments), and partly to preserve their dignity in some cases. I can honestly say that my time in the village wouldn’t even have been half as fun without them. I’ll forever look back on the last couple of weeks I spent with them with fond memories, and hopefully I’ll keep in touch with a lot of them and see them all in 2016 if not before!
7) Not having to think about what I’m wearing
The joy of being able to get up in the morning and knowing you’d look fine in whatever random combination of kit you chose to throw on that day. The only thing you had to watch out for was whether it was a white shirt day or a blue shirt day. Yeah, that was a real thing. But even then, that could be solved by looking out the window of my bedroom and spying on everyone else to see what they were wearing, in the least creepy way possible.
8) And finally, living with Hannah
I think I might’ve previously mentioned that my best friend and fellow lifter Hannah would be living in my house for the duration of the Games as she was volunteering. Because of this, I came home quite a lot (I only live about half an hour away from Stratford and the Village) to chill out with her. She came out with me most nights too. That’s the thing with great experiences – they’re made greater if you do them with someone you love being around! She left yesterday morning while I was on my way back home. I came back to a Hannahless house, which was a) sad and b) annoying as I had so much to tell her about the athlete after-party thing in the village.
Although the majority of the Games I loved, there will be certain things that I don’t miss. These being them:
1) Being able to walk through Westfield without being recognised and stopped for a photo every 10 steps. Then other people seeing what was going on and joining the massive photo queue. All I really wanted was to go to Topshop.
2) Not having to walk miles just to get out of the village, and the airport-style security checks. Literally took about half an hour to walk from Westfield to my room purely for this reason. It isn’t even that far.
3) Waking up feeling slightly to very hungover. I’m not going to lie, things got messy for everyone at least once during the Olympics. Here’s photo evidence of mine: http://www3.pictures.zimbio.com/pc/Team+GB+Weightlifter+Zoe+Smith+leaves+Chinawhite+uU_x_OglH4-l.jpg