Are Olympic champions born or made?

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1. Football's loss?

I always loved football at school and playing for Arsenal was my dream. But my PE teacher saw something in me when I was running down the wing. He pulled me aside and said to focus on athletics – it all started there.

I began racing seriously at 13 but it was after winning the European Junior 5,000m title in 2001 I started to really believe this could be my full time job. I dedicated myself to it 24/7 but I couldn’t have imagined I would become a double Olympic champion, especially not in my own back yard.

London 2012 and the Rio games have both been a dream come true for me. But what does it take to win an Olympic gold medal?

2. Make mine a double

It is seriously tough to become an Olympic champion. The most important thing is commitment; it’s all about getting on top of that podium. I don’t dream of winning – I train for it. In the run up to Rio I was running about 120 miles a week. I become a bit of a robot – eat, sleep, train, repeat! Sometimes you have to make big sacrifices, like running until your body is crying out for you to stop, or missing your child's birthday because you are at a training camp.

When preparing for a long race, like the 5k or 10k, I practise running that distance the weekend before. Then in the week leading up to it I ease down. Just before the race I like a seriously strong espresso too – then I’m ready to go. The mental side is really important too. I always like to plan my race tactics in my head – visualising how I’m going to beat my competitors.

Preparation is vital. Combine those hard yards in training with mental toughness and you give yourself the best chance of winning. If you’re anxious and worrying about your rivals then you can throw it all away. You can have all the natural talent in the world, but there is no substitute for hard work.

3. The make-up of a medallist

Leading Olympic sports psychologist Bill Cole reveals the mindset of an Olympic champion. Hit the pointer on the left hand side, then click on the labels to find out more.

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4. VOTE: Born or made?

You've heard from the experts, now it's time for you to have your say. On balance, are Olympic champions more a product of 'nature' or 'nurture'?

5. QUIZ: Do you know the Olympics?

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