Team GB rower Greg Searle expects to have tears in his eyes when he returns to the water at London's 2012 Olympic Games.
Searle, now 40, who won Olympic gold at Barcelona 1992 with his brother Jonny in the coxed pair, made his last Olympic appearance at Sydney 2000 before announcing his retirement a year later.
The lure of a home Games proved too strong however, and Searle came out of retirement in 2009 to force his way into the men’s eight crew for London 2012. And that, he says, is a “fantastic story”.
“I’ve loved every day of it from day one when I sat down with men’s coach Jurgen Grobler and he asked me if I wanted to row or if I wanted to coach,” he said.
“The reality that I am going to make it has begun to sink in. That I am going to be out there rowing on the lake at Eton Dorney with the stands full of 30,000 people. I expect to have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes and then I’ll know that I’m really there to compete.”
After bursting on to the rowing scene and winning consecutive gold medals in the men’s coxless four at the 1989 and 1990 World Junior Championships, Searle switched to the men’s pairs ahead of the Barcelona Olympic Games.
He now looks at the upcoming London Games through mature eyes, and reflects on his experiences of Barcelona as a young, gung-ho rower.
“The first time I came at it I was young, totally enthusiastic and totally bullet proof,” he said. “I’d never lost a race before and I just expected I would show up at the Olympics and win another one because it was just another race.
“I recognise the difference of doing this as a 20-year-old and doing it as a 40-year-old. If I compared my lifestyle to my peers I when I was 20, I was missing out on a lot of fun stuff, but as a 40-year-old I have a pretty good lifestyle,” he said.
“When I drop my kids off at the school gate most of the other dads have to put a tie on and go off to work in the city but I don’t have to do that. I have a fantastic opportunity to be part of this team and I really recognise that this is a very special opportunity for me.”
Ultimately though, it is Searle’s passion for rowing and his desire to compete at a home Games which has been the catalyst behind his Olympic return.
“The massive advantage is that I love it,” he said. “Every day I show up at training and no matter what’s on the programme I take it on, get stuck in, and enjoy it.”
How fitting an end a second Olympic gold would be to Searle’s “fantastic story”.