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Highs and lows in Beijing

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Andrew Steele, 23, from Manchester, is competing for Great Britain in the 400m and 4x400m relay.

After a crazy few days, Iím once again sitting in my hotel room and thinking back over the emotional rollercoaster that has been the past three days.

This sport provides you with the highest highs, but unfortunately also the lowest lows - and I have just experienced both.

At 4:30am on Monday I arose to compete in the first of a possible three rounds of the menís 400m, here in Beijing. The moment I got out of bed, I knew it would be a good day; I felt nervous but in control.

At this level, the distinction between the winners and the also-rans is the ability to execute and stay cool under the greatest pressure.

I knew if I stood any chance of progressing to the semi-final, I would have to run the fastest I had ever ran in my life, this is not an easy fact to face I assure you!

My warm-up felt great, and eventually the time came for me to enter ďfinal-callĒ. This is the small room where you report before your event, where they plonk you down right next to all your other competitors Ė as if you werenít nervous enough already!

Twenty minutes later we emerged into the wonder that is the Birdís Nest stadium which, much to my surprise, was full to the rafters with 91,000 people and the atmosphere was incredible.

During my race, I felt strong and relaxed and with just under 100m to go I found myself in the lead with no challenge. I crossed the line to see the big clock stop at 44.94 seconds - a huge personal best and something of a landmark as far as 400m times go.

This is the first time I have run under 45 seconds, so I am really thrilled with my performance Ė plus it felt easy! Cue happinessÖ

I spent the rest of the day relaxing, and looking forward to having a lie-in the following morning. The semi-final was not until 9.45pm the following night.

This was not a good race for me. I felt a world away from the athlete that ran the heat the previous day and after 200m I wasnít involved in the race at all.

I tried to come home strong but I just didnít have anything left. I finished last in a slow time of 45.5 seconds.

I canít begin to describe the disappointment I felt - the high of the previous day had just been all but erased by my terrible performance in the semi-final.

I should have made the final here, but I didnít run my race right and I didnít keep my cool when it mattered. This was my own fault, and something that Iíll now work on and correct for the future. Cue despair!

After a long dark night of the soul, I have now brushed off Tuesdayís disappointment and Iím really looking forward to the relay on Friday.

Since my race, I have been inspired by Christine Ohuruoguís amazing run for gold in the womenís 400m and also by Usain Boltís unbelievable world record in the 200m.

Team GB are having an amazing Olympics, and so far I have experienced the full cross-section of what the Olympics have to offer. It really is such hard work mentally, but I would rather experience the lowest low, while chasing the ultimate high, than live a normal quiet life and experience neither.

So watch out for the menís 4 x 400m relay heat Ė 1310 BST on Friday - and shout at the TV!

Previous 606 entries from Andrew Steele:
In the eye of the storm

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comment by tim400 (U1822727)

posted Aug 21, 2008

Hi Andrew,
It was a massive leap forward not just in time but also in in class regardless -FANTASTIC.
The 400m is my favourite event only eclipsed by the 4X400M.
I am sure you will all run out of your socks and do us proud (and of course join the "sub3" club).
I am already nervous and excited for you and cant wait to shout at the tele and jump up and own shouting at the tele go! go!! go!!!
Not too good for me at my time of life and also can scare my partner half to death.
Go out there and give it some welly and my best wishes for a good result to all the members of the team.

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comment by Elpenor (U3101245)

posted Aug 21, 2008

Great PB in the heats - best of luck for the relay.

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posted Aug 22, 2008

Steeley! Good job with relay and indiv. event. I was going mental! good luck in the final mehdi

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comment by tim400 (U1822727)

posted Aug 22, 2008

Great stuff!!
Congratulations to you all as individuals and as a team.
Doubtless you have gained massive confidence from this run.
And under 3 mins!!! First class!!
After watching I suspect there is a bit more in the tank so please prove me right,
Good luck in the final,

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comment by Elpenor (U3101245)

posted Aug 22, 2008

Agreed with Tim - top class semi-final run from all of you. (was particularly impressed by Bingham, who I hadn't heard of - whereas I was expecting the other three of you to run well). Good luck in the final - here's to a 2:56 run!

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