Blog: Sarah Storey Heads Back to the Track

Post Road Worlds was a heady mix of chill out time, some work with some of the Olympic and Paralympic sponsors as well as that all important first chance to ride the London Velodrome.

Link: Team Storey Sport Website | Link: Track Championships Preview

After just a day at home to catch up on things, (like washing kit!) I was straight down to London with Team Storey Sport’s Communications Manager, Helen Scott, and a meeting with Rio Tinto, the Official Metal Provider to London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We were there to firstly learn a bit more about the global operations of the company, who have mines all over the world, and secondly to start to plan our internal event for the launch of the Paralympic Medals.

With mines all over the world and an impressive range of projects focused on sustainable development attached to the mine sites, our focus was drawn to the mines in Utah and Mongolia as the key places for mining the metal that will be used to make all the medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

There was only a week before the launch of the medals and so it was important to get the crucial parts of my speech arranged for that event. I have a core speech which uses a powerpoint presentation of photographs from my career, along with some key messages and mantra’s which I feel are key to motivation and leaving an audience feeling involved. For the launch of the medals I was going to be talking to the Rio Tinto staff who work in their two buildings near Paddington station and so it was important to use my speech as a way of relating my own sporting journey with the day to day elements involved in their own jobs.

Rio Tinto have a journey from Mine to Medal, that allows them to trace the metal used in every medal from the point where it was mined through the journey to the Royal Mint and them ultimately the podium at the Games. Every success has a story and with sustainability being at the heart of what both Rio Tinto and LOCOG are doing respectively, it was important for me to explain how as athletes and sportspeople we consider our choices and the impact that has on our performance too. Rio Tinto also have a huge emphasis on safety, innovation and technology, three areas in cycling that are always a big talking point. One part of my speech, where I explain our heat chamber and cooling strategy set-up prior to Beijing in 2008, always gets a giggle!

From the meeting there was time for a gym session in the state of the art facilities at the One Aldwych hotel, before we headed off to the Women in Public Life Awards which were being held in an amazing top floor space by the Thames just near Westminster. The event was being sponsored by Scottish Widows, the official Pension and Investment Providers to the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I was there in my capacity as their Ambassador to present an Award and also to receive one on behalf of a team mate!

It was a superb evening, honouring the achievements of women in every public service from politics to charities and also provided some heart touching acceptance speeches. The woman who received her award from me has worked tirelessly in the Samaritans and in her speech she acknowledged all the people who supported her in her present role but said her main motivation for working for them was because they had helped her enormously when she really needed them and without that personal help she wouldn’t have known what her future was.

Deloitte also had a couple of evening events planned for me to attend, with one in the impressive LOCOG offices in Canary Wharf and another being a Director’s Dinner. The work of Deloitte to the London Games, as the Official Professional Services Provider, has been one of the longest standing associations. From the time of the bid right through to Games Time, Deloitte expect to have provided 750,000 man hours to the Games in the form of secondees and advisory roles. The work they have been doing has been across all areas of the Games, from business planning to providing a framework of sustainable food and catering at the Games.

Inside LOCOG itself they have been able to support the growth of the team needed to deliver the Games, which is expected to peak at 200,000 people during Games Time, but then it will all need to be closed down three months after the Games. Within my role at events like these I have to speak about the Games Time experience and talk about Deloitte’s role in supporting Disability Sport from grass roots, with Deloitte Parasport, through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme [or TASS] to the podium and the support of ParalympicsGB.

Attending the business events and working with the Olympic and Paralympic sponsors has been an amazing experience for me. We often sit in our athlete bubble, whilst the business world sit in their business bubble and forget about the work that is going on in other walks of life. The obvious links between sport and business will always be there, but it’s the personal interest and the unusual questions from an audience, as well as the banter that comes from the other cyclists in the room that made these events so much fun!

One thing I have noticed over the last four years, since starting to become more involved with corporate speaking and doing keynote addresses at conferences, there are cyclists in every room. Some race time trials, some are a very high standard and many are commuters and sportive challengers. I love the fact that our so called “rare breed” are actually in every office in every town and it is great to spend time chatting and being able to have some informal chat with people after the formal part of these events is over.

As athletes I think we are in a privileged position to be able to do sport at the highest level and to have the support behind us that allows us to train and race full time in search of gold. One of the most frequently asked questions at the end of my speech is, “what motivates you to keep working so hard?”

It’s an answer that isn’t hard to give, because I think apart from the motivation of standing on top of the rostrum and receiving a gold medal, I am also motivated by the fact I still have the gas in my legs to do what I am doing and above all I enjoy the journey of working out whether or not I can get faster. In the last 20 years of being of a Great Britain Senior Team athlete, I have learnt so much about how my body works, what it responds to, what gets it fit and how to rest and hopefully not over-train, but the exciting part is that I am still learning, there is still that fine balancing act and there is still so much to consider not least because there is a Home Games round the corner.

Of course talking about the Home Games brings me nicely on to the subject of training on the London Velodrome!

It was an opportunity the Para-Cycling team jumped at when the option of three days at the London Track came up and an early chance to see how the track would ride compared to others we have competed on. The building was quite echoey without anyone in there and the track looked so clean! Since I was on a slightly easier week of training after the Road Worlds I didn’t go mad on volume, but did some short fast efforts to get me keyed into the work I would do on the Team Pursuit line this past week. It certainly went well taking this approach, with me scoring personal best times on all my starts and getting some quick flying laps out of the old road legs!

The Olympic Park itself is rapidly coming together and to the side of the Velodrome is the impressive looking Village, who knows if we will get a view of the park from an apartment there! The site is due to be handed over to LOCOG in January and it’s impressive to see just how much it has changed since we were last there for a visit in April. Parts of the park’s landscaping have been completed and those areas really do look pristine. It is an impressive operation and one that I know we all can’t wait to see completed!

For now though it has been back on the Team Pursuit line and a short build up to the Track Nationals this coming week. With just three days on the track with the other girls in our squad the focus was on speed and power on big gears and our first chance to see the benefits of the work we have all done over the summer. Fingers crossed now for some solid results at the Nationals!

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