A few days have passed since I left the athletes village. It actually took 2 days to clear out all my stuff. At one point 2 security guards, an electrical contractor, a volunteer dentist and me made up a convoy of race bikes, a chopper and a golf buggy laden with turbos, tyres and kit. It was an entertaining and surreal way to end my games experience and typifies the helpful, accommodating nature of all the staff and volunteers that made the Games possible (although I suspect the security guard riding the chopper wasn’t doing so purely out of the goodness of his heart).
Once my stuff was out and loaded into a van I rode back to my mum’s flat in the West End the same way I arrived, along the River Clyde and through Kelvingrove Park.
But I was changed. I rolled through the city I grew up in exhausted but with a contentedness I’ve not felt for a very long time.
This city managed something very special these past 2 weeks. It not only pulled off the delivery of a huge scale multi sport international competition, it united people and cultures. It embraced diversity, art and music. It displayed compassion and warmth. In short, Glasgow promoted the qualities of humanity that I had begun to feel I had to abandon if I wanted to pursue excellence in the world of elite sport. Yet here were all these values being held up in this sparkling, friendly city that I had always taken for granted.
Having always felt at odds living life as an elite level athlete (by its nature a selfish, focused, single minded endeavour), these Games have rewarded me with the best prize of all. They have shown me how my dedication inspires others. I’ve felt so proud to be stopped in the street and told someone’s daughter wants to be like me. So honoured to be asked to write a note of encouragement to a young woman struggling in adolescence. Delighted to be told that after watching the race at Cathkin Braes, a family is going biking together this weekend. It has made the 9 years of toil worthwhile.
Since competing in my event I’ve been celebrating pretty hard. It’s felt good to reclaim my life from the strict confines of peak performance but already I miss it and I’m planning my next competitive moves. What I do know is whatever I do next it’s going to be fun and inspiring in the spirit Glasgow.