A 16-year-old schools’ champion is on course to become the first black woman to swim for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics after “defecting” from Kenya.
At Plymouth College she has become a close friend of Tom Daley, the world champion diver, and decided that her swimming career will be best served by trying to represent England and Britain.
She says, “It’s been a strange season with a lot of ups and downs, when I got double gold at the British Championships it was a massive highlight and I looked forward to great things to come.”
The end of the season was disappointing as I competed at the European Championships and then the Commonwealth Games but I didn’t go nearly as well as I hoped. I took two weeks off after the Commonwealths after which I settled down in London to train at my new club.
It was all a lot to get used to but training is going well at the moment and I’m focusing on getting fit again and the main focus of this cycle is obviously the 2012 Olympic Games.
When people ask me about 2012 I always say that it’s so far away but it’s much more of a reality than it was. Living in London and being closer to everything that’s going on, it seems that it’s almost here.”
The Ancient Olympic festival lasted for just 5 days and for the rest of the year the next Olympics was being planned. The arena wasn’t used through out the rest of the year although maybe a few villagers would exercise there. Getting ready for the Olympics involved lots of hard physical labour, any undergrowth that had grown had to be removed, the courses had to be dug and levelled out, the sand pits had to be prepared and repairs and general tidying up of the buildings and monuments had to were also necessary. In the 20th Century the Olympics is a big deal and people spend billions and billions of pounds on it and it takes them years to prepare. The athletes were even strictly trained in their home towns for the 10 months that they weren’t staying in the palaestra – where the athletes stay and train. They had to swear an oath to this rule and make sure they trained solidly for 10 months. The training was renowned for its harshness; the athletes had to observe a strict diet, carry out a horrible regime of exercise and obey every word the hellanodikai. Nowadays athletes take their own coaches or trainers to the games with them. To modern athletes this would seem very strange as it would cause the athlete to become tired and possibly injured. So the difference between Modern and Ancient athletes is that at the beginning ancient athletes weren’t amazing but were taught to be amazing where as the Modern athletes have a skill.
“If you have worked hard enough to render yourself worthy of going to Olympia if you have not been idle or ill-disciplined , then go with confidence but those who have not trained in this fashion let them go where they will.”
Athletes start their training the year before the Olympics. But I have been training for just over 6 months and the Olympics start in just over a year. I am really looking forward to the games I have really big competition against the other athletes. I have started training early to get an edge on the other athletes. My speciality is the stade race. I am the best in Greece.
We hope to be making a useful comparison between the ancient Olympic Games and those to be held in London in 2012.
We will be looking at these areas:
The build up to the Games for both ancient and modern athletes
The preparation of the Olympic sites: both in Olympia and London
The religious elements of the ancient Games: the sacred truce, oaths and the mythology
The origin of the modern games
Rules and regulations
Events then and events now
Individual athletes then and now
Prizes and rewards.