For young athletes with an eye on Paris 2024 or Los Angeles 2028, this summer has been a valuable learning experience.
Despite being a Games like no other, Tokyo 2020 has given athletes with their own Olympic and Paralympic dreams the chance to study how Britain and the world’s finest athletes prepare, perform and react in the glare of the Games spotlight.
We’ve asked a number of our younger members what lessons they have learned from Tokyo, that they are intent on putting into practice as the Paris Games begin to come into view over the next few years. Powerlifter Charlotte McGuinness is next to share her insights.
“From my time on the programme so far, I have learnt that every training session I do; every rep and set I do on the bench in training goes towards that medal and personal best. I certainly saw that come to fruition at the Paralympic Games, where my GB Para Powerlifting team-mates came away with three medals.
“For me, seeing my team-mates go out and achieve greatness makes me feel grateful to be on the same pathway and really emphasises how hard work does pay off.
“From my team-mates’ social media content, I got an insight into the village environment, and how training works when you’re at a Games. COVID obviously meant that certain events couldn’t happen, which changed the experience slightly, but hopefully by the time Paris comes round, everyone can attend things like the opening and closing ceremonies, so that we can experience the incredible atmosphere.
“I’ve competed at two World Cups, so I know from that experience that when athletes are at an event they’ve been working towards for a long time, the level of competitiveness and intensity increases. I saw this in Tokyo, when it boiled down to lifters lifting 1kg heavier than their competitors to claim a medal. I can imagine that being on that stage is daunting, so the amount of focus required is immense – I admire my team-mates for that.
“Another thing I took from watching the Games was the sense that ParalympicsGB is one team, and the levels of support within that team are brilliant. This was evident on social media, with athletes from different sports supporting each other through either triumph or defeat – they all came together as one team.
“I was inspired by many athletes during the Games, but particularly by my team-mate, Ali Jawad. Ali’s message going into the Games was that the achievement of qualifying for and competing at a Games after his battle with Crohn’s disease was more important than any medal. He showed me – and everyone else watching – that nothing can stop you from achieving goals or dreams, and the fight is never over.
“Going forward, I am going to take that inspiration away with me. Three of my team-mates have come away from Tokyo as Paralympic medallists, and with the clock now reset and counting down to Paris, I want to make sure that my time in the gym, and every rep and set, counts.
“We have less time that normal to prepare for the next Games, but that’s another source of motivation to work and train harder so that I can achieve my goal of attending a Paralympic Games.”