We’ve been sheltered away from everything for the last 4 weeks. First in the Austrian Alps and then to a sea level lake in Portugal to put the finishing touches to four years of hard work.
We returned to the UK yesterday having consciously thought about what to expect so that there were very few surprises. It was an inspiring experience and exactly as I imagined. Olympic rings, volunteers, adverts, cameras and well wishes were surrounding us from the moment we disembarked from the plane.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was the strength of the military presence that has been evident since our arrival. From Heathrow to the hotel and lake, I really feel like security, supported by the military, is taken care of. The Royal Navy (working with the Army, RAF and Police) are proud to be providing a safe, secure and enjoyable games. This is a once in a generation event that they are all overseeing whilst still maintaining all of their commitments both in the UK and overseas.
It has prompted me to write another thank you to the Royal Navy. My employers since 19th September 1999, I am both proud and grateful in equal measure. I remember my first day at Britannia Royal Naval College like it was yesterday. I remember graduating from military training a year later as a very different man and I remember everything in between.
I have no doubt in my mind that if I didn’t have that background and the subsequent military experiences then I wouldn’t have the mental or physical qualities to be able to do what I do on the water everyday. Determination, teamwork, leadership, discipline, dedication. This list could be very long. Military values are synonymous with those of Olympians and I have been reminded of that again when I see the professionalism of the sailors, soldiers and airmen running our security here.
Thank you to the Royal Navy, not just for shaping me, but for your tireless support, for the time you’ve given me to train alongside my civilian peers to be as good as I can and for all the lifts along the way. Let’s not forget that the first stroke I ever took on a rowing machine was during naval training and that I didn’t pick up an oar until after I’d joined. I have a lot to thank the force and my fellow sailors for.
Thank you for keeping us safe; I’m glad you have our backs.
See you soon. Don’t forget to give me a shout. Let’s do this.