- 18 Jul 08, 02:52 PM
It's been a long wait, but I've seen the letter confirming my place at the Olympics. We did our first team selection back in April and the second one in the beginning of May, then the qualification race at the end of May, which feels like ages ago. It's been anxious, but it's been worth it.
We didn't qualify outright so that's why we had to wait. We were told they were 99% sure but, until you get official confirmation and your letter from the BOA congratulating you, it's not a done deal.
That's quite hard but everyone told us to be positive and train on the assumption we'd be on the team. We were given forms to sign and we had our jabs done a couple of weeks ago, so we've been doing all the preparation anyway, but it's great to have that finally nailed.
It's a bit of a relief actually. It feels like the pressure's off - it's really hard to make the team, now this is the fun bit! Competing at an Olympic Games and being part of the British team is an incredible opportunity, I'm really excited and all I can do when I get there is do my best.
I didn't do my best when I went to Sydney for my first Olympics, eight years ago. I had a great time and I learnt a lot but I didn't feel I reached my potential when I was there, so it's great to get a chance to do it again.
Training in Hungary is going well, but I'm not too happy about the snakes in the river. I have a real phobia. I haven't seen any for a couple of days but for the first two or three days, I was not a happy bunny.
It's not as though you can't look - you have to look at the water to see where you're going. There are twigs, bits of branches and strands of weed in the water, and every time you see this little thin thing you think the worst. I have a really bad phobia and as soon as I see something I'm convinced that it's a snake. Nine times out of ten it isn't, but after an hour and a half on the water, I'm happy to get off!
I'm proud to say I'm on the cover of a new book. I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for two years, from 2003 to 2005, and I recovered using a treatment called reverse therapy, which was introduced to me by an employee at my sponsors, Pindar. Since then I've shared my story with various audiences doing motivational speaking, and I was approached by a lady looking to write about positive stories from people who've suffered CFS and recovered.
She was looking for a design for her front cover and decided I was a good candidate to appear on it, having gone from the depths of that illness to the top of the world stage in sport. That's confirmation you can be cured and push your body to the limit. You don't have to live a sedentary life, you can go and exert yourself.
Reverse therapy is based on the principle that the hypothalamus, a gland in the brain which controls functions like the immune system and nervous system, becomes overactive, as do the adrenal glands. There are a variety of triggers which produce symptoms of CFS, and reverse therapy tries to find out what those triggers are.
I started treatment in September 2004 and by Christmas I was feeling much better, then by January I was starting to exercise again. For some people it's really quick, for others it takes longer - for me it was changing habits I'd developed over a lifetime and overcoming the fear of the symptoms. It was quite challenging but I got there in the end.
I'm back home while my K2 partner, Jess, is racing at the junior European Championships, which take place at the weekend. She's only 18, she's still a junior and she's defending her European title in the K1 500m.
It'll be her first Olympics in Beijing, and for her to make the Olympics as a junior is incredible. She's done really well and we make a great combination. She's young, ultra-enthusiastic and hugely talented, and I've got the experience - and hopefully the wisdom.
Then I'm back in Hungary for another ten days, and we go to Beijing on 6 August. We're a pretty new crew, we only started racing together at the end of April, so I feel like every time we race we're improving.
We're on an upward curve, but where that will put us when we get to the Olympics, I don't really know. In many ways that is a good thing - we are solely focused on controlling our own performance and not distracted by the things we have no influence over.
To go out there and give it all we have, and come off the water knowing we couldn't have done any better - that is our aim in Beijing. We are tremendously excited and positive but where that will place us we will have to wait and see.
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