Inquisitive Romero all set for next challenge
OLYMPIC gold medallist Rebecca Romero has not ruled out the possibility of taking up a third different sport at a third Games.
The 32-year-old is already in the history books for being only the second woman and first ever Briton to win two Olympic medals in two different sports - rowing and cycling.
Her cycling category was taken out of the programme for the London 2012 Games, meaning she will not be taking part, but a third discipline could be on the cards in the future.
The Surrey athlete, who visited the Advertiser office as an ambassador for Partnership's Athlete Scheme, which they are running in conjunction with the paper, said: "I would have loved to compete at London and I was gutted when they took it away, but on the other side, when you're there as an athlete you're in a bubble, you're there to do a job, so to experience it without being a regimented athlete should be good.
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"I've still got that 'I wish I could be good at that' or 'I wish I could win those medals' feeling, but I've had my fair share and in terms of a third sport, that was always bandied about. I'll always be inquisitive about the possibilities of doing that because I never even contemplated a second sport. I thought that wasn't possible and I showed that it was, so to take that third step, why not?
"That's my philosophy, you don't know what can be achieved until you try and do it and if you fail, then you learned something, that it couldn't be done or you couldn't do it, but I prefer to go forward in life by ticking the box and knowing yes or no either way, that's why I got into cycling and just threw myself into it, even though it seemed pretty crazy at the time. For me it was more like 'I don't want to be afraid and not try it'. I can deal with not being able to do it and looking like a wally more than I can looking back in 20 years' time and wondering what could have been."
Romero won silver in Athens in 2004 in the quadruple sculls rowing event and then, after showing an interest in cycling, was fast tracked into Dave Brailsford's squad for the 2008 Games in Beijing, where she stormed to gold in the individual pursuit.
But having seen her discipline dropped for London 2012, she was left to consider her options and has set her sights on her next big challenge - completing an Ironman UK event.
She added: "I was really disappointed when my event was cut from the Olympics and I couldn't compete on home soil, but I've learnt over the years that everything happens for a reason. There were lots of times over the last few years where I probably could have quit when I thought everything was against me, but I always try and look to the next best option.
"I do pursue every possible option and route. I've had a lot of good luck and things go right, but it's inevitable that you don't have success year in and year out. I'm glad I got to the point I did and made the decision I did. For me there's always better things around the corner. I like to look at it as re-inventing myself.
"That's why Ironman is next. I'm obviously glutton for punishment, but I do love starting out afresh with something, being pretty useless at something but working towards trying to be better. I don't like being bad at something and I don't like the idea of shying away from something.
"Doing triathlon or Ironman is something that I thought was completely insane and I would never do it, but then I also think I don't like having that weakness of not wanting to do something. I like setting targets of goals beyond what I think I can do, because inevitably you will always get close to what you think you can do and exceed those.
"We're not born to be able to do anything. We learn everything, we're not good at everything, you have to learn, plan, practise, so the Ironman is about setting a hard target and being able to do it over a short space of time. I like that pressure scenario of planning and improving and seeing how close to that target I can get."
Despite her achievements, she admitted she still finds it difficult to deal with the "fame" that comes with having made history and that getting involved with Partnership's Athlete Scheme, which saw her join a judging panel to pick four local Olympic hopefuls to receive a £5,000 grant from the pensions and equity company, was a way to give something back to the community.
She said: "It still baffles me this term of being famous and it being a massive achievement. I get all the glory at the end of the day, but over the years there have been a mass of people behind the scenes making it happen.
"I don't think I'll ever get used to the fame, or not that, but being singled out as something that was different or unique. The hardest thing coming back from the Olympics was everyone saying 'you're all heroes'. No we're not, what we've done is been totally selfish over the last however many years, gone after what we wanted and it's not lifesaving, it's nothing super special for helping people, so I find that quite hard.
"To be able to contribute something back is really nice and rewarding. When you stop competing and being part of the team you kind of fade out, but to know that I've done something that's created longevity with my achievements and giving back is amazing. Mentoring and the opportunity to be there in the foundation part of other athletes' lives is great.
"You can be a well established athlete and doing well, but you're having to manage other areas of your life as well to cover yourself financially. I found that 10 years after university I was financially no better off, even after being an Olympic gold medallist, so you do make sacrifices.
"What's important, coming into Olympic year, is being able to focus full-time on giving everything to your sport, which can make the difference between someone making the Olympics or not making it or even stepping up to change their goals from being a participant to a medallist. It's hard to quantify or explain what a difference an amount of money can make."