10 February 2018Olympians, are you ready? Chemmy Alcott preview
Four time Olympian and the Ski Club's honorary president, Chemmy Alcott, gives us a preview of the Games
The sky glittered with over 1,200 lights which morphed into snowboarders then the Olympic rings. A Guinness World Record was made. But the pioneering swarm of drones used in the opening ceremony weren't the only things that were sparkling. The smiles of the thousands of Olympians walking through the stadium came close. This is it. This is their moment. Now is their time to shine. How do they feel as they don those patriotic clothes and walk out behind their waving national flag? Well, despite being a 4 Time Winter Olympian, I was only able to walk during one opening ceremony. For my first 3 Olympics I opted not to go. With downhill training runs so soon (if not the following day) my team and I decided to rest and watch the momentous event unfold on TV.
In Sochi, however, I was a different athlete. I was there knowing it was my last Games. I was there knowing that I had physically battled back from 3 broken legs in the preceding 4 years and however strong my body was, mentally I could do with the boost of feeling like I taking part in something bigger than just me. With the training run already cancelled for the following day (remember Sochi was polar opposite to Pyeong Chang in terms of temperature and where they are battling cold fronts we struggled with the relative heat!). I decided that the mental benefit I would gain from attending and walking behind that Union Jack far out weighed the possible physical tiredness that may result from being penned like excited sardines waiting for those huge gates to the stadium to open, then trying to act cool as you and your fellow Brits walk… (when every part of you wants to dance, jump, run and scream!).
The atmosphere last night watching on TV was electric.
This Olympics is my transition - no longer an athlete I am now working on the BBC expert punditry team. The first half of the Games I will be based in studio in Salford with the remarkable Clare Balding.
Yesterday watching Lizzy Yarnold, (our skeleton athlete bidding to make history as the first ever Winter GB athlete to retain an Olympic Gold medal having won four years ago in Sochi) so proudly waving our flag and the team buzz behind her I felt fortunate that I have been able to retire and yet still stay involved in Winter Sport. Unlike many of my fellow experts I haven’t won an Olympic medal. But I have the knowledge of longevity in that I qualified and competed as an Olympian over 4 Olympic cycles.
I have gone on record saying we will smash our medal targets for this Games. I am always an optimist and I know many think I am dreaming. They may be right. But we are sending our strongest team ever. Historically we have always had one of two athletes that we have pinned our hopes on to medal. Now we have many across a variety of sports.