Gregory revelling in pressure-free Rio run-up
OLYMPIC champion Alex Gregory admits after realising his sporting dream at London 2012 the pressure is off as he begins preparations to repeat the trick in Rio.
PRESSURE OFF: Alex Gregory (far right) is planning to enjoy the preparations for Rio 2016 having won Olympic gold in London
The 28-year-old, one quarter of the coxless four that sealed gold on ‘Super Saturday' at London 2012, is approaching his rowing with renewed enjoyment having dealt with the pressure of the home crowd.
And after returning to action for the Diamond Jubilee Rowing Championships last weekend, Gregory revealed he was always set on defending his title in four years time.
But although the demands of Rio are set to be a stark contrast to those experienced on home waters, Gregory is relishing the prospect of training with a weight off his shoulders.
"It was an easy decision for me," said Gregory. "I was never going to stop after these Games. I always wanted to push on for the next challenge.
"I want to go into the next four years with a little more relaxation and enjoyment in what I do. "I've put so much pressure on myself to get a gold medal, and now that I've achieved what I always dreamed of I can relax into it and start to really enjoy myself.
"I know it's not going to be easy, but if you're going to do it, and to put the time and energy into it, then you have to commit 100 percent.
"Rio will be very different to London, but the performance side is simple - you've got to get up every day and be the best person in the boat you want to row in.
"It'll be exactly the same this time around as it was for the last Olympics but having already achieved what I've always wanted to do I can hopefully enjoy myself a little bit more."
Last weekend's regatta saw Gregory return to Eton Dorney, the scene of this summer's triumph, as he took second place alongside his Leander Club colleagues in the men's eight contest.
And after galvanizing rowers up and down the country with his Olympic heroics Gregory believes competition for seats is vital to equalling such success in Brazil.
"There's never been a better time for British rowing. I hope we can grasp this opportunity and really put rowing on the map now it's in the public eye," he added.
"The real benefit this year is that success breeds success so it'll push the standard on. It needs to happen because all the other countries won't stand still.
"We know you can't rest on your laurels. It's not a given that we'll have such a great competition next time around so we're going to try and keep that momentum going."
The GB Rowing Team is sponsored by Siemens and supported by Lottery Funding