Olympic Dreams – Dan Craven
It’s Wednesday morning and I’m sitting on a couch, watching tennis on TV, nothing terribly unusual, nothing out of the ordinary; until I look out the window. Not only is the sun shining in the UK, but the scene that spreads out before me is a somewhat unusual sight – I am looking out on the entrance to the Athletes Village at the London 2012 Olympic Games; and I am on the ‘good’ side of the fence – the inside.
As of Saturday 28 July, 10h00 (BST) I can call myself an Olympian. Not (like a friend of mine suggested) a Greek God sitting in the clouds looking down upon humanity; but merely an athlete. A ‘mere’ athlete who has competed on the biggest stage in the world and become part of a select group of athletes – a honour that I shall remember for the rest of my days. Unfortunately there is an upside and a downside to that; it also means that the outcome of the race shall always remain with me.
It is no secret that I have had a very quiet and unimpressive season so far but two recent trips abroad with a lot of hard training and racing brought me to the Games with form that I was really pleased with and knew that I would be able to make myself, and my country, proud. It all came to nothing though and after 120km of the planned 250km I was left sitting on the sidelines. I was caught up in a crash before the first climb up Box Hill and although I stayed up, my bicycle was pulled from underneath me as it became entangled with Luca Paolini’s bike.
I thought I would be safe with the group of riders I found myself with, Paolini and Cancellara amongst others, but that did not turn out to be the case. The short story is I never got back on after the crash; the long story is a whole lot of excuses.
I didn’t have a mechanic leaning out of the team car ‘fixing’ my derailleur; I was caught out several times by clueless convoy drivers, twice having to slow to near standstill in blocked roads who then sped past me once around a corner; I froze and felt as if my legs seized up; I’m a poor little boy and don’t you feel sorry for me. Shame.
It seems inconceivable now that I got back to the convoy twice but still didn’t get back to the race – a real reflection on some of the driving. Complain as I may, I can’t escape the fact that after my year so far, it simply looks like a continuation of an old theme. It is pretty obvious that I’m devastated by the result and I slept for no more than half a hour on Saturday night but there is nothing that can be done about that now. I was there, I was part of it.
I was in the bunch that rode out through London on fully closed roads – with so many crowds cheering next to the road that I could barely hear myself think never mind have a conversation with anyone in the bunch. I spent a month in Rwanda to qualify for the Olympics and deserved to be there. I have represented my Country at the Olympic Games!
Give me a few more days and somewhat sleepless nights and I will be over myself again. In the meantime I have some training to do. Tour of Britain is around the corner and I have a team to head back to – no rest for the wicked.
Ryan Mullen raced out of his skin to secure 6th place at the new race
Joe Perrett is the National 25 TT Champion
The Hawk finished 3rd on stage two & 3rd overall on GC at the first Premier Calendar of 2013
8th, 11th & 13th places for Pete W, Pete H & Matt Cronshaw in Rutland