If you were to ask me right at this moment, amid the drama and spectacle of London 2012, whether I wanted to continue until Glasgow 2014, it would be an easy one to answer. If I was making the call in the here and now I would definitely go on because this is such an exciting time for swimming.
The reality is that choosing whether to remain in the sport for the next Commonwealth Games is a much more difficult question than that for me.
My immediate priority is getting married in the autumn. I want to enjoy the wedding to my fellow Team GB swimmer Keri-Anne Payne as much as possible, I don’t want to be making big decisions too soon. There are a number of potential options out there. It’s going to take a lot of thinking time.
If it wasn’t in Glasgow it wouldn’t be such a difficult decision whether to carry on or not. It’s the same with these Olympics, had it not been in London I don’t think I would have been here. In the event, I reached the 400m freestyle final and finished seventh. I swam better than I have ever at the age of 30 which is almost unheard of.
In Glasgow the opportunity to swim in front of a passionate home crowd is such a draw, but I will still have to think about it. I have to take the emotion out of it.
The real question is not about whether I want it. It’s whether I feel I will be able to perform at Glasgow 2014. If I didn’t feel I was going to be competitive I wouldn’t make that call. I wouldn’t want to take up a Team Scotland place as a bit-part of the team if I didn’t feel I could contribute and it may be that I can contribute more in a different role.
The squad we now have in Scotland is so good is we’re expected to go there and medal. I wouldn’t want to be part of it for the sake of it. That would be letting the team down if I took up a space that somebody else could be performing in. I won’t be there just to get the tracksuit so it’s going to be a big decision. I’ve got to be as dispassionate as possible when it comes to making the right call.
The other day I was involved in a Glasgow 2014 and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau press conference to highlight the Games. Watching the promotional videos being played to the media it was so exciting to think the things we’ve seen here down in London can happen in Glasgow in two years’ time. It’s been incredible and I hope that we can maintain the interest.
There have been some really inspirational stories to create a sense of momentum and you could say, with a hint of tongue-in-cheek, it has been the perfect test event for Glasgow 2014.
The Commonwealth Games is the biggest competition behind the Olympic Games and is already being spoken about among the Scottish swimmers. It’s one we target. Being a Scotsman myself, there are not many opportunities to sport the Saltire so it’s a huge deal for us. There are so few opportunities to represent Scotland as an athlete as we usually compete under a Team GB banner.
My Melbourne 2006 memories of winning two Commonwealth Gold medals, are still strong. Standing there on the podium having performed as well as I had done in my entire career was a special moment. I’ve not watched it back that much because I always feel if you watch a video of a certain event that becomes the memory rather than the day itself so I like to keep it fresh.
Michael Jamieson and myself are really close friends. He was an amazing junior swimmer, had a bit of a plateau, then rejuvenated himself to come again and medal at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games.
To get his Silver medal in the 200m breaststroke at London 2012 was probably the outstanding achievement at the Aquatics Centre, certainly for the British team and arguably for all the nations. He’s on a real high. He’ll be faster, stronger and fitter than he’s ever been in Glasgow and it keeps me going to watch him progress.
I revel in a senior role in the squad, that I can be of help is something I’d like to do in a future role. Making a fraction of a contribution towards unlocking somebody’s potential is very satisfying for me, just little things like helping them find short cuts to reduce stress or become less emotional.
I really don’t know what kind of role I would do, but feel I can offer something to make a difference in various fields. I hope I’ll be involved enough and find a role that will be a challenge for me.
The Tollcross venue is going to be an incredible legacy for the city. I remember when the Tollcross pool opened, it was a kickstart for me as a young swimmer in the late 1990s. To think it’s going to be upgraded is going to be perfect and it will give more opportunities for people around Scotland.
I almost didn’t make the London 2012 Olympics. This time last year I set myself a goal to make the Olympic final which was a huge stretch at the time. At the World Championships I had finished 15th. It was an incredibly hard goal, but I thought I was capable.
I got a major injury along the way which knocked out my chances in the first trial, but by the second trials I felt in good shape and a far more motivated, rounded athlete. There was a real release when I did swim in the second trials, I knew it could be a life-defining moment. It was a last chance saloon situation so I was proud I qualified. After that I could relax at these Olympics and seize a place in the final.
The crowd pulled me along, the decibel level was astonishing in London and that can be repeated or even bettered in Glasgow.
You only have to see the passion Scottish fans generate for their football and rugby. I hope the swimming can tap into that. Now we’ve got some big names we have to make the most of it and keep the ball rolling into Glasgow 2014.
They will probably have to issue ear protectors for the athletes in Glasgow because in terms of noise it’s going to be at fever pitch.