When I think back to before I left for Worlds two weeks ago, I was thinking about what I would be writing my blog about on this very day – The day I returned to Perth. To be honest, I was half expecting to write about how we fought off the Poms and the Kiwis, and how I stood next to my two teammates again, wearing gold medals and rainbow jerseys. I didn’t however expect to be writing about how the Aussie women’s Team Pursuit not only missed out on a medal of any colour, but that I also didn’t get a start.
But that’s elite sport for you, and I wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t think I could take the good with the bad. After being in the form of my life for the first round of the World Cups in Melbourne in early December, my health took a blow straight after, when I got crook keeping me off the bike for nearly two weeks.
Before I competed in my 2nd World Cup of the season on 20th January in Beijing, I finally started to feel like the old Sarah again. The fit Sarah. But travelling to China in -10 C temperatures, as well as two flights back and forth between Perth and then to Sydney for my next comp took its toll afterwards, and I was crook again. I was meant to be lining up for the National Champs in Sydney that week.
I so desperately wanted to defend both my Individual Pursuit Title, and WA’s 4th Team Pursuit title in a row. But on the first day, I was racing like a D-grader, and half way through the points race, I felt so bad I was struggling to see the wheel in front of me. That was when we pulled the pin on the remainder of the Omnium event, and by the next day, on Nationals altogether. I needed another week off to get healthy again, and I spent it back home in Perth.
Before I knew it, I was back in good old Adelaide, preparing for the World Championships. Except I wasn’t the old Sarah. I was a different one who couldn’t find her legs and I just tried to tell myself everyday that tomorrow would be better. ‘Tomorrow’ was sometimes better.. but then two days later I would be back to riding like a gumby again.
By the time we left for Apeldoorn, Netherlands on 16th March, my form had started to show some signs of finally coming up. In the days leading to competition, 4, 3, 2 days out, a decision had to be made. There were four of us going for three spots. My fellow reigning World Champ teammate, Jos Tomic, first year senior, Amy Cure, and the eldest, Kate Bates. I’m still not sure if I saw it coming in the days leading up to, but those first few hours after the coach tells you, you won’t be riding the Qualifying are the worst.
I remember just thinking, well now what? I just trained a year from our last Worlds solely for this event. I don’t do any races on the road, I don’t have another pet event. I just do this. I don’t have a huge social life outside my sport. My life revolves around sleeping, eating and training for this one event. I hadn’t touched a single drop of alcohol (not even a sip of champagne for my 21st) for nearly four months leading into it. I had been on a lolly ban for three months (that sucked the most..) all so I could travel 20,000kms to watch the event I sacrificed everything for, instead of racing it.
That was about the point when I told myself to toughen up. I told myself my teammates needed me now to keep a positive environment for them so they could stay focused. I told myself it wasn’t all for nothing, that the big picture is still 16 months away, and it wasn’t a year wasted. It was a year of developing to a better person and a stronger athlete, so that come 2012 time, I will be ready. And I will know the feeling of missing out on the team, and how desperately I never want to feel that way again. I also told myself to loosen up, cause a lolly and a glass of wine here and there keeps you sane!
And something else I realized, was that Australia smashed the medal tally. We took home eight gold, two silver and a bronze. And to be a part of that team was an amazing feeling, and one that I want to contribute to again at next year’s Worlds and Olympics.
So I’ve learnt that from now on, when I picture beforehand what I will write in my blog afterwards, it’s not about what I will be expecting of myself to write, it’s about what I desperately dream to write about. And dreaming about it is easy 🙂
I hope there’s a lesson in there for everyone,
Bye for now,
Thanks, Sarah 🙂