OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Simmonds prepares for overwhelming crowd
By Ric Sumner, Sportsbeat, London 2012
SINCE bursting onto the world stage with five gold medals at the European Youth Olympics in 2005, swimmer Lizzie Simmonds has built up a wealth of big Games experience.
JUST THE ONE: Lizzie Simmonds competes in 200m backstroke only, for the first time at a major international tournament
But the backstroke specialist admits that nothing she has achieved in her career can prepare her for the challenge of walking out in front of a partisan crowd at a home Olympics.
The 21-year-old narrowly missed out on a medal four years ago in Beijing and will be hoping to go one better in the 200 metres.
The double European champion knows the experience of the London 2012 athletes’ village could be overwhelming, but is prepared for any eventuality – right up until she toes the start line.
“The Olympic Games is very different from other championships because all the other sports are there, not just the aquatics,” said the Beverley-born athlete.
“It’s cycling over there, runners over here, and you’re in a different situation with the village. Usually you just stay in a hotel with just the team and you’d be close-knit with them as you travel down the pool and come back to the hotel, and that’s kind of it.
“But at the village at the Games, you’ve got the dining area, you’ve got the media centre and the shops. It’s kind of crazy, so to know what to expect in that situation, and to know when you go in the village and exactly what it’s going to be like.
“The only situation you can’t prepare for is walking out in front of the crowd. They were amazing in Beijing, but the British percentage of them were tiny.
“But we’re going to walk out in London and get a great reception. It’s something you can’t prepare for, but you have to try go and face it and not be a rabbit in the headlights.”
© Sportsbeat 2012