By Tanni Thompson
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Athens was a whole other event. I went through huge ups and downs in those Games which made me realise that, although wheelchair racing was really important to me, it wasn’t everything in my life. More about that later. 29 TA N N I G R E Y T H O M P S O N Competing for the national team can be amazing. I still remember when my first selection letter came through for a major Games. I didn’t know if I was going to make it into the team or not until I got the letter, and was so excited when I knew I was going to Seoul.
Going on to the track I looked across to the finish line and saw the BBC presenters Clare Balding and Colin Jackson. Both just looked at me and nodded. The semi-final had been close. I had drawn a good semi and had won. The second semi, which I managed to watch track-side, had been won by Madeline Nordlund from Sweden in a 45 TA N N I G R E Y T H O M P S O N new Paralympic record. Francesca Porcellato had been second. For the final I had the best chance that I could have. Madeline was not a quick starter, but a fast finisher.
They didn’t seem to know what to say. The only person who wasn’t upset was Carys. ’ This immediately broke the tension. I remember my friends joining in the laughter. It made me realize that, while athletics was incredibly important to me and my family, and the people who care about me or the sport, at the end of the day, it was just one race. It was a big race to lose, but just one race in my career. Later that night, with Jenni, team coach Jason and Ian, we tried to figure out what had gone wrong.