I love the Olympics - to me, it is the greatest show on earth. Forget the Premiership, European Championships, and Rugby League’s Four Nations. You can keep them. Unlike some other walks of life, athletes are just like you and me. They haven’t been born with a silver spoon in their mouth or a sense of entitlement – they are ordinary, down-to-earth folk, who have worked hard in life but have achieved the extraordinary.
What I love more than anything else is the inspirational stories behind those achievements and the athletes themselves, like that of Olympic gold swimming champion, Adam Peaty.
Who would have thought as he slic ed through the water, half-man, half-halibut, that this so-called ‘hunk in trunks’ used to be scared of water?
In fact, Adam, who is still only 21, used to be so terrified that, as a toddler, he’d throw a tantrum at bath time and force his mum to wash him standing up.
At the age of 14, he was still swimming in the shallow end with 10-year-old girls.
Maybe he would have stayed in the slow lane if it had not been for European and Commonwealth medallist Mel Marshall, who spotted something special. She was so certain she became his coach.
It was Mel’s unwavering belief that led him,seven years later, to become the first 100m breaststroke Olympic champion for Great Britain since 1988.
Adam puts his success down to the support of his family, namely mum Caroline, dad Mark, and his nan, Mavis, who has become a Twitter sensation as #OlympicNan.
Caroline rose every day at 4am to take her son swimming before school.
Adam’s family went above and beyond. I’m certain it’s this utter belief that helped spur him on even when times were tough.
Eventually, through sheer hard work, Adam not only proved himself as a serious athlete, he managed to secure £15,000 worth of Lottery funding. This has since doubled. Not that I think he needs to worry about money anymore because lucrative sponsorship deals will surely follow. I hope they do, because he deserves every penny.
Adam has learned if you want something in life then you have to be prepared to work hard for it, and he has. He also has a strong army behind him.
When he won that gold medal in Rio, he didn’t just win it for himself. He won it for everyone who had supported him throughout his remarkable journey.
It’s not only Adam who should feel proud, it’s those people who gave him the strength to succeed.