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Ross Sabberton, Specialty Ores Trader, Great Britain – 2000 Summer Olympics

Ross Sabberton, Specialty Ores Trader, Great Britain – 2000 Summer Olympics

Sydney, Australia – Spring Kayaking: K2 (double kayak) 500m and 1000m events

I grew up by the coast so I was always going to be a sailor, windsurfer or canoeist. Competing at an Olympic level in kayaking was a series of chance events and a lot of luck. British sport turned a corner in 1998, and became very professional and fully funded. I was lucky enough to secure funding grants allowing me to train full time, whilst also studying. 

When I look back at the sheer amount of time I spent training in my late teens and early twenties, I’m astounded. But it was also some of the best times ever. We’d spend the winters in South Africa training at altitude, spring time in Spain doing race speed work and then summers competing in Europe and North America, all the time with a team of 20 of my best friends. I shared the ups, downs, the punch-ups and the parties with these guys, and came away with some friends for life. Ultimately, we finished 10th overall in the Sydney Games, narrowly missing the finals.

I had another proud Olympic moment several years later when I was on the bid team that secured the right to host the games at London 2012. I sat on the main bid committee in the 3 years leading up to that moment in July 2005. We worked hard across all the sports, refining the bid for London, which all came down to a vote held in Singapore in 2005. I remember being at the party in Trafalgar Square waiting for the announcement. We were convinced that Paris would win, because they had a far superior bid. When the envelope was opened and we won, it made for quite a party. 

Ultimately, I left the sports competition in 2003, as I wanted to do other things in life. Sport at that level is an all-consuming obsession. It forces you to focus on a sole goal with incredible intensity, often to the detriment and sacrifice of everything else in life. Trying to replace that after leaving sport is hard, and a lot of my team mates struggled. I was lucky as I quickly transitioned into a career that I could divert that energy into.