Geraint Thomas: I just don't want the Olympics to end

 

Like most people in Britain, I just don't want the Olympics to end.

Looking back, what myself and the rest of the GB track cycling team did in the London Velodrome was incredible. Winning seven gold medals again, just like we did in Beijing in 2008, was a phenomenal achievement and I am proud to have been a part of it.

It is now more than a week since we defended our team pursuit title and, to be honest, it is still sinking in.

When I was a kid, I dreamt of winning the Olympics one day. Now I am a double gold medallist and it just feels crazy. Even saying it out loud does not seem right.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas with his gold medal

In training, we are taught the whole time to think about the process of winning and not letting the occasion get to your head, because it can affect your performance if you start thinking about what you would do if you won. That's probably why it is so difficult to get your head around it afterwards.

After last weekend, I returned to Cardiff for a few days just to chill out - and to see my golden post box! - but I have come back to the Olympic Park for the closing ceremony, just to try to take everything in.

I think it's important to do that. The London Games for me are not just about going out there, competing and going for gold. It is important to soak up the whole occasion as well, because it is a once in a lifetime moment to compete in your home Olympics. I got goosebumps when I went into the athlete's village.

That's one of the reasons I'm coming back for the closing ceremony with the rest of the guys from the team pursuit squad.

We missed the opening and closing ceremony in Beijing and didn't go to the opening ceremony this time. I haven't had the chance to go and see any other sports because I couldn't get tickets so I thought it was a good idea to go along to the Olympic Stadium.

It will cap a brilliant few days since we won gold. The celebrations started when I met my girlfriend Sara and my family after the final with my medal hanging around my neck and they continued when I took it home to Cardiff with me to show my friends.

The biggest difference to the gold I won in Beijing is that this time I feel right in the thick of all the celebrations here. The support we have had in the velodrome has been unbelievable - it was too noisy to communicate during our races, because you could not hear each other shout.

I came back to the track to see our women's team pursuit squad get gold too, and the wave of noise going round with them was amazing. It was the same with the cycling road races at the start of the Games and, from watching on TV, inside the Olympic Stadium for the athletics too.

Just like the women's squad, we have an extra man in our team - Andy Tennant   - who did not ride in the qualifiers or the first round, so did not get a medal.

So I can see why Wendy Houvenaghel, who missed out for the women, was so upset when she found out she was not in the team for the final. It is a lot of training that she and Andy put in.

She has reacted angrily but I definitely don't think for a moment that anyone has gone out of their way to spite Wendy by leaving her out. Maybe she got a bit emotional and was just lost in the moment and has said some things she will end up regretting.

But, like I say, I do sympathise. I have spoken to Andy quite a bit since the final because we were all in it together, not just for the week competing at the Games but for the whole year beforehand too.

You are all aiming for this one goal and it is not just the riders, it is the physios, masseurs and the mechanics - everyone. The whole team has to perform in that time so it is sad when somebody misses out and doesn't necessarily get the credit they deserve, but that is what happens in top-level sport, I'm afraid.

GB win women's team pursuit gold

Part of the issue Wendy had was that one of the girls who was chosen ahead of her had been ill but that made no difference to her performance. The statistics speak for themselves with the gold medal and the fact Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell have now broken six world records in a row. There are no freebies - you don't put somebody into a final or a semi just so they get a medal.

I was ill myself with a bug the week before the Olympics but I never felt in danger of missing out.

It was more that I was getting impatient because I wanted to feel good and be back the way I was going beforehand. I just had to keep telling myself I still had the legs and my form was not going anywhere in a week.

I went from being at 100% and in the form of my life to being at about 80%. That might not sound that much of drop and on the road you could cope with that. On the track, though, you are talking about tenths of a second making a huge difference, so everything is exaggerated.

I have enjoyed the celebrations but I have already been back on my bike because I have a couple of road races coming up in Germany and Denmark, and I might ride in the time trial in the world championships in the Netherlands in September too.

GB duo's delight at team pursuit gold

So I am pretty booked up for the next few weeks, but at the start of October I am going to Thailand with Sara for a holiday. I've not been before so it will be a bit different - and a chance to relax properly!

My focus is going to be on the road for the next couple of years, but I 100% want to be in Rio for the 2016 Olympics.

If everything goes the way I want it to, I will hopefully ride the road race then but I will have to play it by ear and see what happens on the track because it might depend on which events disappear and which come back.

But my experiences in London have definitely made it worthwhile sacrificing a year on the road with Team Sky to come here, and it confirmed what I already knew - the Olympics are huge and it is amazing to be part of something I grew up watching on TV.