The Unlikely Road to Rio 2016

In the run up to the Games, I wanted to showcase some athletes who had come close to being selected for the Olympics, but for one reason or another, didn’t make it on to the plane. Monica Relph, former athlete of mine, has a great story to tell about her near miss onto the team and her subsequent transition from Sport into the workplace. Although hers is a story of disappointment, it is also a story of growth and change and strength in the face of adversity and I have no doubt that she is a far bigger and better person than she ever would have been without sport. She has promised me a blog, telling her story, which I will nag her for and post here.

I was also going to showcase my stepson, Jack Beaumont, who was selected as the spare sculler for the GB Rowing Team for Rio, but due to the strict number allocation for spares, was not travelling out to Rio. His has been a journey of ups and downs too. Less than a year ago he was involved in a potentially life-changing accident on training camp, and we spent an anxious 24 hours not knowing whether he would walk again, let alone row.  Jack then spent many gruelling months in re-hab trying to find his past form.

Today, however, by a cruel twist of fate, Jack has officially been selected onto the team. His great friend and team mate Graeme Thomas has been withdrawn from the team at the eleventh hour due to illness. I have known Graeme since his very first days in the sport and he is a wonderful ambassador for the British Rowing Start programme. It is with the heaviest of heart that I heard the news, even though it means Jack will race – these are not the circumstances that I would wish for, I am truly gutted for Graeme. A knock like this is huge, it will feel like a bereavement for him, his family, his lovely girlfriend Emma and everyone who has followed him in his journey.

But I suppose if this post gives you one message, it’s that even though sport is and always will be a rollercoaster of a ride, it almost always leaves you stronger, and eventually more resilient. You may not always get to the ultimate destination, but the journey is almost always worth it.

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