By Sam Shepard

Image: From 'The Theatre of Sports', by Richard Lewer

Image: From 'The Theatre of Sports', by Richard Lewer

Four years ago I missed out on theLondon Olympics. I had just come out of age group racing. Following on from missing out I went and watched my partner race for Great Britain at her home Olympics. I came back to Australia with one thing on my mind; I would do anything to compete at the next Olympics for Australia.

From 2013 to early 2016 I was a full time professional swimmer. I would get up at 4:15am each morning, train from 5 - 7:30am followed by breakfast, a quick nap and then training from 2 til 4pm in the afternoon, 6 days a week. There was also Gym, Pilates, Massage and Physiotherapy required between and after training during the week. I would see a sport psychologist on a regular basis to make sure I could control my nerves and not make mistakes on race day. For three years this was my routine, my religion.

Then in early 2016 I just missed out on Rio. I had put in 100% into my preparation but on the day I wasn’t good enough. Trying to make the Olympics is like starting your own business, you put all your passion and money into it and it might pay off or it might not. In my mind, I was always going to make it. My journey isn’t uncommon, there are many great athletes out there that would have put in a similar amount of time and energy into their sport and just missed out.

After the race on Saturday the 13th of February at 9:50am on the Sunny Coast, I walked back to my hotel in the rain by myself. I just wanted to be alone. I got in the shower with a chair and a beer, had a sip and started crying. 

Since I was 10 years old everything had gone into making myself the strongest athlete possible and now, here I was, a mess in the shower.

I would not be going to Rio.