The 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa was an unforgettable experience.
I was so proud to have been able to represent my county at the other side of the world in what was an amazing week of competition.
Team England made a huge effort to make everything as homely and comfortable as possible for us athletes which was so important to many of us, being somewhere that is completely alien to us and so far from home. Our HQ had England bunting and flags and motivational messages on the stairs, we really felt proud to be part of the team.
Funnily enough, one of the most memorable things for me was our driver. He was a massive supporter of ours and had a ridiculous sound system in his bus which really gave us a much needed boost in the mornings when we went to the pool, and the evenings when we went for the finals. He was brilliant and it’s those little things that make a massive difference.
Another stand out thing for me was how unique the medal ceremonies were. They were really cultural, and it made it a very special occasion even more special when you won a medal as you got to experience the Samoan culture.
During the competition itself, there was an incredible atmosphere. There were a lot of teams ‘staring each other out’ before competition which added a nice competitive element to it before the races, but afterwards we were all friends again and it was nice to talk to the other nations and to get to know them a bit better, which was fun. We got to learn a lot from the other nations, about how their train, their diets and preparation so was a useful learning experience.
Team England were amazing at bringing us together as a team, rather than just 60 athletes from 8 sports. One thing I really enjoyed was the Team England medal presentations back at HQ after each day of competition, there was a medal board on the wall and all the sports and athletes in the England camp could celebrate each other’s’ successes.
Nutrition is really important for us and I love my food, so I was pleased to find that there was a great variety in Samoa. It was fun to eat in the dining hall with the whole team, as it gave us the opportunity to mix together and to get us to know each other a bit better.
All of the staff and team coaches did a superb job and it wouldn’t have been possible to go without them and be such an amazing experience, so they deserve a massive thank you for that.
It was without a shadow of a doubt the best three weeks of my life, from leaving England, to the training camp in New Zealand, to arriving in Samoa and the overall Commonwealth Youth Games experience.
I met some amazing people that I will never forget and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am so grateful to have had.
For me, to come away with Gold, Silver and Bronze is a bonus on top of the main prize; the experience.
Thank you to everyone involved who made it possible and so special.