As we walk on

Perseverance is the name of the game whether on the track or in life we all need to learn the art of walking on regardless of obstacle or outcome. My journey to an Olympic medal wasn't easy and it certainly didn't happen overnight, when I am asked how I did it there is no short answer but looking back the best answer is an unwavering determination which took me over peaks and through troughs, something that I worked on each day alongside the physical endurance needed for a 20km was the mental fortitude to continue to push myself every day to new levels. Determination comes through experience and testing your self constantly, and I was learning it in spades growing up with an Olympian for a Dad. He never let me win anything I had to work for it till the very end. My parents always taught me that giving your-all was what you could be most proud of and over years of racing I have learned that to respect your rivals is to never hold back and bring the fiercest competition they can hope for. This is my reason for training.

I could race at any level and enjoy every moment but preparation for a big race is one of the most exciting aspects in my mind. Turning up to a race and knowing you can run a certain time is great but after all the preparation I went through leading into the Olympics I had no clue how fast I could go and THAT was the most amazing mix of excitement and nerves. I will chase that feeling again and again for as long as I can.

But what happens in the moments, racing/work/life where it all unravels, all that effort, preparation and sacrifice fall to nought. Injuries and illnesses are tough to overcome and we will all have our share of bad races, I've experienced the lot and the most important part of these failings is to accept that it has happened then learn or work forward from it. In the lead up to 2016 Olympics, there was a World Walking Cup in Rome, the day before start line I came down with the flu, fever and congestion, body aches and fatigue. I was medically advised against racing and in 99.9% of circumstances, I would recommend anyone reading not to be as stubborn as I was. I was in a massive rut thinking poor me and wandering about like a lost puppy before the race trying to decide if I should still try. Luckily I wasn't even slightly indulged in my woes, "stop whinging, you have 2 options, pull out and go home and rest or finish a warm up and see how far through the race you can get, either way, stop whinging" That was my wife to be Katy.

I took my place on the line with the Colosseum behind me. I drew inspiration from the men who would have stood on the sands, ready or not, to face insurmountable odds. My plan was simple - Hang on to the leaders. I didn't even give myself the or die trying option, I knew that night like King Leonidas himself, I would be dining in hell but the only way I would rest easy was if I knew there was nothing left in my legs, lungs or heart. Stay with the pack! 2km down and my head was banging but I stayed strong, 5km in and my lungs were burning still I pushed on, 15km and my legs falter for a moment I'm still with them. With every last kilometre, I see man after man falling off the pack but not me, I walk on. 2000m to go, my body had given up long ago but the fire in my belly was still burning. Every inch of my body was screaming at me to drop the pace, then my own mind turned against me, "I had given it a good fight, ease up and be proud to just finish"... I yelled back, it was a battle cry to clear my mind and find something to bring my across the line, I found it. Gritted teeth, eyes focused on the man in front, I pulled in one then another and I was closing on the medals. The final 200m, my balance was failing and a kind of tunnel vision was setting in, I can't even remember the moment as I crossed the line 4th in the World and the fastest 20km I had produced yet by over 30seconds but every step up to that point is etched forever as one of my proudest days. I was pegged as 19th fastest leading into that race, and I was written off further with the flu which made this day even more special. I had surpassed my own expectations.