London 2012: we speak to Paralympic gold medallist Liz Johnson
In the first of a regular series in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we speak to Paralympic gold medallist Liz Johnson about what drives her – and how she deals with nerves…
Who, in your opinion, is the greatest ever athlete and why?
There are so many, I’d have to say Rodger Federer and Rafa Nadal for all that they’ve achieved in tennis, Jessie Owens and of course Michael Phelps. I don’t think people generally understand how much Michael has achieved. Often you hear people say that he’s won more medals because there are more events in swimming, but really he’s had to go out and beat all of those rivals and he’s beaten them hands down.
How do you think the Olympics and Paralympics will benefit the UK?
Obviously it will provide so many different people the opportunity to get involved. From competitors to volunteers and spectators, to be able to see the Olympic and Paralympic Games in real life in front of you will be fantastic. I hope that it shows those watching that athletes are just normal people with dreams like anyone else. Hopefully that in its own right will inspire people to pursue their own dreams in whatever walk of life. I also think that the new facilities built specifically for London 2012 will also help encourage people to get involved after the Games.
Which events are you most looking forward to seeing?
I’m obviously looking forward to the swimming but I’m a general sports fan and all the events will be great to watch. I’d quite like to go and see the gymnastics as it isn’t a Paralympic sport. I found it quite difficult in Beijing in 2008 to find the time to watch any of the Olympics as that is my training time before the Paralympics start a few days later.
Which Olympic or Paralympic moment do you wish you’d witnessed?
It would have to be Usain Bolt winning and breaking the 100 metre World Record or Michael Phelps winning Gold in the 100 metre Butterfly, both in Beijing.
Who is your inspiration?
My love of sport is my inspiration, when you really enjoy what you do it spurs you on. I personally don’t feel like I’ve reached my full potential so it’s quite exciting to see where I can go from here. As soon as I knew the 2012 Olympics were going to be coming to London it was a huge push in terms of encouragement, but then I enjoy competing wherever I am.
How do you deal with nerves?
If you aren’t nervous I don’t think you’re ready. Every athlete gets nervous but it’s how you deal with the nerves that matters. As I’ve got older and more mature I have definitely learnt to deal with them better. When you hear the whistle and then the gun you just have to get on with your job.
We’ve found 100 people from across the UK to tell their stories about the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
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