Nottingham Trent student Emily Lewis was part of Team GB this summer in Tokyo, she spoke to Platform Sport Editor Alex Brinton about her experiences
For most of us this summer has revolved around events like the Euros, festivals and maybe a cheeky 2-4-1 night at Rock City.
But NTU student Emily Lewis had a bit of a different time, she was part of Team GB at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
She spoke to Platform about her experiences at the Games and her journey to get there.
“In one word – crazy,” is how Emily summed up her Olympic experience. She competed in the Canoe Sprint, an event she described as, “All about power over a short distance. On flat water, you basically have to get from A to B as fast as possible against seven other people.”
Emily, who studies Forensic Science at NTU, only got into canoeing because her best friend at school did it, but she ended up being very good. “When I was younger I just did it to have fun and to go out with my mate and then I did a few competitions,” she explains. “I started winning and you think ‘Oh I quite like this,’ so I started training a bit harder and properly working on it.”
“I made the quarter-final [in Tokyo] and I missed out on progressing into the semi by 0.005 of a second, so it was literally the tiniest of margins,” Emily told me. “It was a bit frustrating, but I am sure it will give me more motivation for the next few years.”
The Tokyo Olympics had been her goal for a long time, so the moment, she found out she was going to the Games was truly special. “I FaceTimed my whole family straight away and told them. There was a lot of crying because they all knew how much it meant to me.” Unfortunately, her family couldn’t travel to Japan to see Emily compete because of the pandemic. “It would have been good to have all my family and friends out there and I am pretty sure all of them would have made the trip,” she says. “But Paris is only three years away and I’m sure everyone will be making the journey across the channel if I make it again.”
Throughout the Games our TV screens were lit up with wholesome footage of families celebrating their offspring’s success at some silly time in the morning. There was shouting, celebrating and tears. “I think there was a bit of jumping around when they were watching. I think they thought that I had made it through because the camera zoomed onto me and not the other girl so when the times came up, they were gutted.”
Whenever Olympians speak about their journey to the top, they are always quick to mention the support they got from their families when they were young, and Emily is no different. “My Dad used to drive me to training after school and college – he was a massive part of my journey.” Parents driving their kids up and down the country, making massive sacrifices, is a story we have heard so many times, but is nonetheless heart-warming every time you hear it. “Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago so he wasn’t there to see me compete.” He may not have been there to watch his daughter become an Olympian, but I think we can assume he would have been a proud man.
While the athletes couldn’t be joined by their families in Tokyo, the bond between members of Team GB was something a lot of Olympians spoke about. “That was brilliant, it was so cool to be part of a bigger team as well,” Emily says. “You would be in the canteen and see people like Andy Murray or Sky Brown, the little skateboarding girl.”
When Emily arrived in Japan she went straight to her pre-Olympic camp where they trained before entering the Olympic Village. Team GB did all they could to make the three weeks before their competition started as hospitable as possible. “Luckily, because I have got an outdoors sport I still got to go out and feel like I was doing something, whereas some people were stuck inside the hotel.” Entertainment was laid on as well, “Our team set up a lounge room with Nintendo DS’s and stuff like that. They even shipped out a Pacman machine – you couldn’t get me off that. Time flew by really.”
As for returning to NTU, that is something Emily is a little apprehensive about, “I haven’t been to Uni for two years. I am a bit nervous about it because I haven’t studied for so long.” She is looking forward to it though. Unsurprisingly, despite being a sporty girl, I can’t see Emily frequenting Ocean or the Ocean bar crawl anytime soon, but you may find her in Revolution de Cuba on Market Street.
So, the best thing about her ‘crazy’ summer experience? “Getting all the nice new kit.”