Rower Helen Glover won the admiration of the nation when she won Team GB’s first gold medal of London 2012 in the women’s pair with Heather Stanning. Yet four years ago, Glover hadn’t even got in a boat. Now she rules the waves. Follow in her wake by taking a crash course in rowing in Bled, Slovenia. Bled boasts both one of the world’s most renowned rowing training centres and a World Championship course with a spectacular setting on picture-postcard Lake Bled. But don’t be distracted by the scenery - your goal is gold.
Can’t run for the bus? Don’t give up at the first hurdle. You could be a winner in 2016. After all, pole-vaulting sensation Holly Bleasdale only took up the event in 2008 after watching the last Olympics, while Lawrence Okoye took up discus throwing 18 months ago. Get out of the blocks straight from the starter’s pistol by signing up for a fitness boot camp at La Manga Club Resort in Murcia, Spain. Royal Marine fitness instructors take the camp and will make sure you’re putting in the effort. You could aim to drop a dress size in a week, or smash the Olympic record. No sweat!
If you want to be the new Bradley Wiggins or Lizzie Armistead, you better get on your bike. Road race silver medallist Lizzie only took up cycling at 16, so you can do it too. To time-trial like Wiggo, saddle up for some stages of the Tour de France and practice a few ascents like the Alpe d’Huez. This iconic set-piece is a collector’s item for road cyclists, famous for its corkscrew climb involving 21 hairpin bends. You may think that you deserve a medal if you make it to the top after 13.8km of gruelling gradient, but don’t rest on your laurels – the descent is devilish.
'Honorary Brit', 15 year-old Ruta Meilutyte, who trained at Plymouth College, came from nowhere to win Lithuania's first ever Olympic swimming gold in the women's 100m breaststroke. If Ruta can do it, so can you, so throw yourself in at the deep end at a swim training camp at the National Training Centre in Clermont, Florida. The world's top coaches will teach you stroke technique and race strategy, while advanced sports science testing will turn you into a winner. If swimming isn't enough of a challenge, there’s always the triathlon.
If you start feeling funny when you’re on the high board, get over it. You’ll never be the next Tom Daley with that attitude. Vertigo is for wimps. Throw yourself into it, literally, by flinging yourself off a 60-foot cliff on the island of Phi Phi Don in southern Thailand. ‘Krabi cliff diving’ is not for the faint-hearted, but the nerves will stand you in good stead for shouldering the weight of the nation’s expectations, like brave Tom. If you’re tempted to try a triple somersault, make sure you get it right – a belly flop might hurt a little.
The most decorated sailor in history, Ben Ainslie competed in his first Games at just 19 years of age. So, if your idea of sailing involves sunbathing, champagne and a crew in matching outfits, perhaps it’s better to pass your Olympic hopes on to the next generation. Your kids could be the next Ainslie, or Shirley Robertson, so make them read Swallow and Amazons for inspiration and send them to Croatia to get in training. The Dalmatian coast is ruggedly beautiful, dotted with over a thousand islands - the perfect practice ground for Olympic champions of the future.
If all this sounds too much like hard work, then how about a holiday on the beach? Bikinis are optional but we’re not talking sunbathing here. We’re talking flinging yourself around in swimwear while trying to preserve your dignity – yes, it’s beach volleyball. You could of course just go to Skegness, but you need to acclimatise for 2016 so head to the spiritual home of the sport, Rio. Train to be the next Alison Cerutti at one of the many beach volleyball schools on the beaches of cool Copacabana or iconic Ipanema.
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