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Olympic champion Sarah Winckless is looking forward to Rio’s carnival atmosphere

Sarah Winckless (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Sarah Winckless (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

TWICE world champion, Sarah Winckless took part in three Olympic Games and won bronze for Britain’s rowing team in 2004.

She is the UK Chef de Mission for the Youth Olympic Games and is part of the team in Rio this week. Sarah raises awareness of Huntington’s disease, a condition for which she has tested positive.

Are you confident these Olympics will go well?

I think Rio will be a unique experience and I’m looking forward to the carnival atmosphere. At Team GB we’ve been working closely with the organisers to understand how to support the athletes.

Some athletes have pulled out over the Zika virus. Worried?

No. I am going to the Rio Games as support staff.

Who did you look up to?

Jonah Lomu – he changed the game of rugby and inspired me. I’m inspired continuously by great athletes, and my parents’ support was invaluable.

The biggest sacrifice you made for Olympic glory?

I didn’t see them as sacrifices but choices. I spent 10 years finding out how good I could be in a rowing boat, missing time with friends and family.

How often does an Olympian feel it’s all too much?

There are times in everyone’s career where it feels out of kilter, maybe missing an important event in a friend’s life. But I concentrated on getting balance, for instance being a bridesmaid when asked, and always keeping my options open.

Were you a good loser?

No! But I learned most from the times I lost.

Is it easy to get addicted to glory?

You get addicted to lots of things – surprising yourself when training pays off, or the feeling of working in a team and making the boat fly. Winning was what I trained for, but it wasn’t what I was addicted to.

What was the first guilty pleasure you indulged in after retiring?

Choosing food for taste rather than fuel.

What drives you now?

Sport, and helping others be at their best, putting together teams and seeing people step up, whether that was the GB Ambition project for London 2012, or now for Rio. It’s an amazing privilege to be there in the background as others create their own moment in history.

You have 24 hours left to live. How do you spend the time?

With friends, being active – I’d get in a boat with my old colleagues and look for that feeling of flying, then I’d go to to Machu Picchu and see that.


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