Monday, June 19, 2006

The hardist part of my whole olympic experiance was the whole build up towards the games and the pressure to actually make the qualification.
The qualification was to make two top 25th possitions in world cup events and then earn 120 FIS points.
the top 25th positions wasnt to hard but it seemed to be really hard to make the points.
it wasnt untill the penultimate world cup that i actually made the qualification.
at this point i had only really been competing for about three years and only two years in FIS.
the prievious year i had won the whole Europa Cup series and had earned my own world cup spot, so i could compete in every world cup, which gave me the best chance possible to qualify.
The world cups are a big step up from the Europa cups and at first it was very intimidating to compete along side the snowboarders that you watch in the videos and respect.
As the season progressed i started to relax in to the vibe and actually make friends with the top snowboarders and let me tell you, when you ride along side people of such a high level it cant help but make you step up the pace of your own personal progresion.
As i went in to the last few events of the qualification period my results climed up and up until the Leysin world cup where i placed 5th, which ment that i had over suceeded the quota for qualification.
That was it, that was the point where i let out a big sigh of relief and realised that all of that hard work had been worth it.
I was on my way to represent my nation in he Olympic games!

We arrived at the games a week before we competed so that we could settle in to the village and get some training in the halfpipe.
We were based in the Olympic village Bardoneccia, which only hosted a few events (all snowboard, triathalon and ski areals)
most other sports were in either turin or .........
The vibe in our village was very mellow, we had free food 24 hours a day, internet, games rooms and afternoon entertainment.
We rode the pipe for five days and i worked on my competition runs and general consistantcy.
The only time in a whole week that we actually left the small village of Bardoneccia was to go to Turin one night for a drinks function where we me Princess Anne and all of the other Team GB athletes.

The week went fast and before i knew it the day was upon me.
The morning of the games we woke up at about 6am, every one was very quiet at breakfast and there was a strange vibe between all of the riders.
i couldnt decide if i was nervous or if that feeling in my stomach was that feeling that you get when you wake up early.
It was really cold, about -15 and the pipe was like blue ice and as hard as concrete.
The nerves were deffenitly setting in as i strapped in my bindings for the training. the stands were starting to fill up while i dropped in, my first run went fine. i unstrapped, picked up my board and practicly ran up the halfpipe, and droped in again, adrenaline fully flowing.
i had about four runs and then that was it.
i stood around at the top of the pipe waiting for the comp to start, i paced about trying to stay calm, i phoned my parents and they said that they had just sat down in the stands, my phone was going crazy with text messages from friends and some people that i dont even know wishing me good luck.
i started to feel really emotinal and i felt a bit alone, i literly had to slap myself to try and snap myself out of this weird zone and tell myself that it was no different than any other world cup except from the whole media hype.
i generally try not to watch the comp as i think it can mess with your head a little so i sat in the ent at the back and sipped on bottles of powerade until my number came up.
i strapped in and waited for the signal to drop in.
i had a good look around at the thousands of heads and all of the video cameras especially the one that was right up in my face.
all of a sudden i just totally relaxed and thought to myself this is it!

i dropped in and i was flying all going well untill the last hit where i over rotated in to a double cork 1080 (a viking flip) and i crashed.
the camera flew straight in to my face and i could see myself on the big screen.
I waited for the score and it came up as a 14 which isnt very good, as soon as you fall you loose so many points.
I walked out and towards the chairlift so that i could go up for my second run.
I spotted my Mum, Dad and familly cheering and shouting, i waved back and quickly made my way to the chair lift, i didnt want to appear rude but it felt weird seing them here at a snowboard event and i thought it could be another thing to mess with my head.
While i was at the top my phone rang and it was my mate Tommy, he was in the pub in my home town of plymouth, he said "everybody, i have wakeham on the phone" all i could here was cheering.
Tommy and the rest of my friends were all in the pub watching live, they were all pissed, it was only around 10am on a sunday morning.
when i got home after the Olympics they all showed me the video camera footage that they had taken from the pub and let me tell you, i was amazing!!
they all had wakeham t shirs, banners on the walls and were shouting like football fans, it nearly bought a tear to my eye!
Any way back to the Olympics.
After that phone call i felt 100 times better, i realised that i had done the hard work and i had made it here so now i should just relax, have fun and soak up the whole olympic experiance.
i decided that needed to land a clean run and that i should do a safe clean run and not the most tecnical risky run, that way i could get a half decent possition.
i strapped in again, moved out on to he starting gate and once again looked out to the world who were looking at me on their TVs or on the internet.

as i dropped in i shouted out "come on England" and rode in to the pipe with a smile on my face.

My run all went to plan and i rode across the line with my hands in the air knowing that i wasnt going to come away from this with a medal but with the satisfaction that i had just rode in front of millions of viewers in the Olympics and that people were cheering and shouting my name. the camera swooped in once again and i smiled at my friends that were at home watching me in the pub on the TV and motioned a kind of drink up movement with my hand.

I looked up at the screen where they were playing my run in slow motion, then the score came up and it was good!
at this point i was sat in 14th place, not good enough to make the finals but in a way i was glad because that ment that it was over for me now and i could realy relax.
i went to the food tent not really eat but so that i could just sit down for a little while and just take it all in.
i waited for the rest of the qualification to finish and then i went in to the crowd to find my familly, they all congratulated me and i was just happy to see some familliar faces. i sat back and we all watched the finals together.

some of my cheering squad

after the event finished i had to go and find my coach so i said my good byes and that was the last time i would see them until i returned to the uk.
My phone keept ringing with reporters wanting interviews. i was live on radio 5 live and on radio Devon, my email account was overflowing with people asking me to wrie up my experiance and questioning me all about the event.
All of a sudden i had a strage feeling and i realised that that was it, two years of training and all of the preperation and it was all over with just two runs in a halfpipe.

Olympics to me now seems like a strange dream!
when i have been competing in world cups and no one really cares, people gather on the sides of the pipe and watch but they dont have to pay any money.
i could go to the x-games and win gold and the british press wouldnt even care but when its in the olympics its all of a sudden a real big thing..
i have competed against all of the snowboarders that were in it and to me it isnt really any different to a world cup except for the whole media hype that goes with the rings logo and name THE OLYMPICS!

Click here to see my Olympic runs!

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