Today marks 100 days to go until the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
The first athletes who will represent Great Britain in China from February 4 to 22 have already been named, and the team will be looking to carry on a fine recent record which has seen British athletes claim 11 medals – including three gold – in the past three Games.
One of those to win gold was Amy Williams, who was victorious in the women’s skeleton at Vancouver 2010. Here, she tells us what current athletes can expect as the countdown to the Games goes on.
“At this stage before Vancouver, the main thing I remember is being extra cautious and extra protective of my body – the last thing I wanted to do was trip over a dodgy paving stone! So your emotions around all aspects of what it will take to be successful at a Games are heightened, but ultimately, athletes shouldn’t be changing their routines too much, if at all, at this stage of preparation.
“Of course, with every competition you head into during an Olympic and Paralympic season, you want to be using it as a practice run for the Games, getting your preparation and routines absolutely perfect as the season goes on.
“For skeleton – as with most winter sports – we had an annual world championships which took place in February, which is when the Games are, so that feeling of having to peak for that time of year was normal for us.
“There is no denying, though, that the Olympic and Paralympic Games carry a different prestige, and with that obviously will come more pressure. However, my best piece of advice to athletes worried about dealing with that pressure, or the additional distractions, would be to remember that – however many people are watching on TV – you’re only there to do your day job.
“As athletes, we want to win every race or every competition that we enter, so your mindset going into the Games shouldn’t be any different to normal. Yes, there will be an audience that you might not be used to, and yes, there may well be a camera right in your face just as you’re preparing to compete, but the thing you’re there to do is something you’ll have done thousands of times before. You know what works for you, so plan, prepare, and keep that level of consistency in your routine.
“I’d also advise athletes preparing for Beijing to soak up every piece of knowledge and experience around them, particularly if it’s their first Games. I would go back and watch the interviews that British athletes gave after competing in Tokyo – listen to how they reacted, how they were affected by the lack of crowds, and how they analysed their own performances.
“It’s also key to recognise the experience that will exist within your own sport. If you have team-mates who’ve been to a Games previously, use their experience to your advantage.
“I remember going into Vancouver with a very solid mindset, which came about from the fact that I knew I couldn’t have prepared any better. If you get on that plane knowing that you’re the best prepared you can possibly be, you will feel more comfortable, more relaxed and more confident when competition day arrives.”