Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman was thrilled to run in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but says nothing can top London 2012.
Laura says there is no greater honour in sport than representing Team GB at the Olympic Games.
“For me Rio was never going to top London, I am one of the lucky athletes who got to experience a home Olympics,” she said.
“I don’t think there will be a greater honour in my athletics career than being stood in front of 80,000 people cheering for me.
“Rio was still incredible and it surpassed my expectations. Going into the Games there was a lot of negative press with problems and issues that was to be expected. However, from the moment I arrived into the Olympic bubble I had everything I needed.
“The Rio Olympic Village was great, it’s like a small little town locked away form the rest of the world. At the Olympic Games it feels like you’re in a little bubble.
“ I forget about the outside world, real life things that are happening and I’m just spending my days concentrating on performing. There is everything you need. A giant food hall the size of multiple football pitches, transport to Games venues, a gym, doctors, food shop and even a McDonald’s.
“As the British team is so big, its hard to get to know other athletes in different sports so this was cool meeting girls from other sports.
“I was sharing with two trampoline gymnasts Kat Driscoll and Bryony Page, two syncro swimmers in Katie Clark and Olivia Federici, archer Naomi Folkard and marathon runner and one of my close athletics friends Sonia Samuels.
“Pulling on the GB vest and standing on the start line in Rio ready to race my heat, I was excited to race and get my Olympics under way after spending the first week of the Games watching other sports.
“I had a tough heat. I didn’t feel very good and didn’t have as good a race as I wanted, however, I qualified for the semi final so it didn’t matter.
“In my semi final I felt like a different person. I was ready to go, feeling good in warm up. So when the gun went and the race was under way I was relaxed. I took the race on with a couple of laps to go as I knew if it was left it slow too many people could kick and I didn’t want to risk missing a place in the final.
“I was really happy to finish in an automatic qualification spot for the final. Literally blood sweat and tears went into that race, I crossed the finish line with a large cut on my shin from being spiked. That required four stitches so it was a late night, racing at 9.30pm and then everything I need to do post race including recovery, stitches, massage and eating. I wasn’t into bed until 1am.
“The Olympic final passed in a whirlwind, turning into an 800m race after a slow first 700m. I crossed the line in 11th place. At the time I was utterly disappointed and frustrated that I wasn’t able to be more competitive but after reflection looking back I am extremely proud of what I have achieved.
“I was very lucky to have my family out in Rio supporting me. They certainly made sure that I could see where they were in the stadium with their amazing flags.
“Back in Leeds, Yorkshire had an amazing parade around the city centre after the Games. This was great to celebrate with all the other athletes who are from Yorkshire or who live and train there like I do.
“The streets of the city centre were lined with thousands of people who wanted to congratulate us on the achievements in Rio. I am very proud to be from the North East and will always call it home but also living in Yorkshire has provided me with the incredible set up for my athletics career and without it I may not have got to where I am now.
“Let’s see what the next four years bring. Roll onto Tokyo 2020, this journey is not over and I am excited about the prospect of the next four years.”
Benfield Nissan are proud to support Laura Weightman on her road to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. To find out more about Nissan’s partnership with Team GB, visit nissan.co.uk/uniteandexcite