Kate Allenby - Olympic bronze medallist
How to win an Olympic medal
By Charlotte Hayward
Devon's Olympic modern pentathlete Kate Allenby provides tips on how to win a medal - and says your genes could have a role to play.
Kate Allenby knows what it's like to stand on an Olympic podium, having pushed her body to its physical limits. Originally from Tavistock, she won modern pentathlon bronze a long way from home in Sydney in 2000.
She believes that dedication and ambition are key, but that genetic make-up can also be very useful on the road to gold.
"Everyone who has won a medal at the Olympics has the same mentality, it's a competition, it's a sport, it's the 'I won't be beaten' mentality," said Kate.
"In the pentathlon there is always one sport that you are less good at, because you're less well designed for it.
Kate reckons an inner drive helps
"I'm not designed to be a fast runner but it is your determination and your will to not be beaten by this. I used to run miles and miles even though I wasn't designed for it.
"It makes the difference between being a champion and not. To improve the weakest aspect of your game, that could be the difference between winning and not winning."
Kate says some people are better psychologically equipped than others to achieve at the highest level.
"There is something in the genetic, that when you're absolutely up against it there is something in you telling you to keep getting back for training."
However, starting at a very early age may prove to be more of a hindrance.
"I didn't start fencing until I was 17. I was running from the age of 10, but I was late entering the fencing world.
Kate Allenby took up fencing at age 17
"You can do too much too early especially if you specialise. If you reach the top too soon you can peak and then really struggle to maintain that performance.
"You can also become complacent, you think well I've achieved that, what else can I do with my life? It's the crafting that keeps you determined and interested.
"As a teenager it's difficult, because sometimes the ambition isn't all your own and there are other things you want to get on with."
At the beginning of 2008 Kate was awarded an MBE.
"I had to keep it a secret for six weeks, it's funny because no one tells me anything, the people in pentathlon will tell you that I can't keep a secret.
"On a serious note however, I was very very grateful to all those important people that nominated me. I was so flattered that they had had the time to put something to paper, that they thought I was good enough."
Now retired, Kate is looking ahead to Beijing in 2008 and London 2012 as a spectator and in support of her colleagues.
"I'll be looking to see if Heather Fell qualifies for the Olympics in London. I can't wait for it to happen, I'll be there, it's going to be the greatest show on earth.
"I'm currently trying to work out how I'm going to be in Beijing because I'm pregnant at the moment and the baby is due in August, but I'll get there!"
last updated: 11/03/2008 at 16:15