Sports psychologist and founder of the Ames UK Swim School, Vicky Panagiotidou, shares her excitement at being a London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer.
My moment to shine came in Minehead, Somerset. I’d travelled 200 miles from Croydon to be a Torchbearer. Now, -that might seem a long way to travel for a 300 metre run, but I would happily have gone much further to have the chance to carry the Olympic Flame. I have lived in the UK for the past 18 years, but I am originally from Greece, making the prospect of being a Torchbearer all the more poignant. The Olympic Flame I was due to carry had been lit by the rays of the sun in Olympia – in my home country – and, I hope, will carry a little Greek fire and passion all the way to the Olympic Stadium in East London.
Moment to shine
The day of my run was nerve wracking but exciting at the same time: and I had a chat with the local news team before setting off so I knew what to expect. When I arrived the crowd was fantastic, cheering me the whole way during my leg of the route. My parents had flown over from Greece to support me and some friends also made the 200 mile journey to cheer me along the route. I was glowing; it really was the most amazing experience and I feel very privileged to have been a part of it.
Inspiring a generation
I’m now doing my own Olympic Torch Relay as I’ve been invited to visit 25 schools in Croydon, Sutton and Norwood to talk about my experience. The Torch has had a real impact and it’s fantastic to see how interested and excited young people are to hear about my experience and to hold it. I feel proud and humbled to play a part in motivating and inspiring the future generation to take up sport.
To anyone involved into sport, I’d like to say keep up the hard work and never ever give up. You need to be very disciplined, hard working and focused. Dreams can come true as long as we believe them.
Vicky swam at an international level for Greece and was the Greek National 200m Breaststroke Champion for 3 years running. She narrowly missed representing Greece at the Atlanta Olympics, having moved to the UK to study before the start of the selection process. Vicky has recently returned to professional swimming and in October 2010 set the British Record for 4 x 100 Mixed Medley as a member of the Croydon Amphibians Masters Swimming Team. You can find out more about Ames UK Swim School on its website.