Kerri Pottharst not only made it to the Olympics once, but three times competing in beach volleyball.
In a match that transfixed the nation, she won her gold medal on the golden sands of Bondi Beach in 2000.
However, for every success there are thousands of broken dreams, ambitions shattered, hearts that need rehabilitation.
Tomorrow night at 8pm, ABC1 screens the first episode of the six-part documentary Race to London about the highs and lows of elite sport.
It’s been called “highly-watchable” with echoes of Australian Story about it.
Race to London follows the journey of six contenders in the year leading up to the London Olympics and Paralympics as they fight for a place on the Australian team.
There’s wheelchair rugby player Ryley Batt, para-equestrian rider Grace Bowman, former Oarsome Foursome rower Drew Ginn, Paralympic swimming hopeful Ahmed Kelly and swimming champions Libby Trickett and Michael Klim (both staging comebacks after retirement).
She will be at the London Olympics with Channel Nine to commentate on the beach volleyball competition.
It all starts with a dream. At some point in our sporting careers… a kind of ‘light’ comes on, a thought emerges and we realise that competing in an Olympic Games is possibly within our reach. This is the beginning of our dream. This is when the seed is sown and we begin the journey that will change our lives forever.
Now with that in mind, it doesn’t just happen by itself. Over the next few years, or even a decade, we work hard for this dream and we embark on a journey, which includes many chapters. There are the hours of training, the competition, the wins, the losses, the sacrifices, the sleep deprivation, the sweat, the injuries, the challenges, the hurdles, and the limits that have to be overcome.
And then the moment of truth – the Qualification process. Will we make it or not? Will all that hard work pay off, or will we have to wait another 4 years?
For some this process may go on over many competitions and a period of up to two years in the lead up to the Games. For others, it may last a mere 10 seconds of sprinting over 100 metres on one day in just one race.
For each athlete that has made it to an Olympic Games, there are perhaps hundreds or thousands of other athletes that have made the same sacrifices, gone through the same preparation and dedicated the exact same amount of time and effort, and did not make it to the Games.
The moment of selection, the moment of elation, joy, reward upon hearing that you are now part of the team that will represent your country at an Olympic Games. Some feel relief; others feel joy or even sadness for their teammates that didn’t make it. This is the first moment that you begin to feel special. You can now proudly say that you’re going to the Olympics!
Soon it’s time to receive your uniform. You grab your shopping trolley and hit the Olympic Uniform supermarket aisles.
There is more clothing than you think you could possibly wear in three weeks. The sizes are all right, bar a couple of small mistakes, because you were measured earlier in anticipation of this moment. You pack it all up in two massive suitcases, you say thank you to the awesome staff at the Olympic Uniform supermarket and off you go with your prized possessions. You won’t find any of these items at Target!
It’s time to check into the Olympic Village. Photos, passports, official forms, handprints and smiles all around. It’s like being admitted into a maximum-security jail, except that once you’re inside, you’re free!
Walking around the village, exploring every corner, not wanting to miss out on anything. Checking out all the other athletes from all around the world. These people are all the best in the world at what they do. All of a sudden you realise that you are part of this group!
You enjoy a massive variety of food in the biggest food hall you’ll ever eat in.
You’re sitting next to athletes with the names of countries on their tracksuits that you’ve never even heard of. You feel humbled that you’re just a small part of this huge world.
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