Really doesn’t feel like that long ago that I kitted up for Australia to race the biggest race of my life. I was 23 years old at the time, new to the sport of mountain biking and eager to tussle it out with the best of the best. As a rooky I thought I was invincible. Instead of staying at the Olympic village our coach decided it would be better for us to have a low key lead up to the race, opting to stay at a house local to the track. This suited me as I wanted to spend as much time on it as I could. I knew all the rocks, best lines to take and corners.
Come race day the nerves were going wild. My whole family was going to be track side along with my friends and relatives. I couldn’t wait. I had gone through in my mind a 1000 times how the race was going to unfold. From waking up in the morning, eating breakfast, to kitting up in my green and gold Australian cycling uniform and then warming up, standing on the start line, taking off, staying with the top girls as long as I could to finishing in a decent position. I was by no means a medal contender, however never say never. I found this metal preparation helped significantly during my racing. Like a machine being programmed to do its job. Of course my fitness had to be 100% on race day. I felt I was well prepared.
I was so focused on the start I didn’t even take in the spectators cheering us off. My start was amazing one of the best I have ever had. I managed to stick with the top 10 women for the 500 m start loop. Usually I’m left in the dust of the more experienced riders. My journey to the Olympics was a quick one, having only been involved in the sport one year. So as I saw it I had nothing to loose and I was going to give it my all.
Going into the first lap I noticed my legs were full of pain on every climb. The adrenaline was pumping and so were my legs. I was happy to see the downhills let me tell you. It was my strength, the more technical the descents the faster I went. Unfortunately I couldn’t hold onto the top 10 position, loosing time on the climbs. I just wasn’t strong enough to keep up with the best. I felt myself loosing positions with each lap. I made sure I enjoyed every bit. The crowd was cheering my like I was a super star. It was only me and another Australian so we had the home crowd advantage.
I ended up finishing 21st out of a field of 30 women. I was a little disappointed as I started off with race number 19 and I wanted to finish in front of this number. That was my goal. The disappointment quickly subsided as I was greeted in the finish area by my family and friends. They all had t-shirts on with GO ANNA and a goanna on a mountain bike (thanks Ro). It was a very special moment. One of the first things I did was drink a VB. How Australian. It tasted delicious. Signing autographs made me feel like I had won a medal. These memories will stay with me forever.
The Olympics show that your dream can come true if you work hard. It is not impossible.