Vicky Holland is gradually learning to believe she has won an Olympic bronze medal, as every personal appearance, every parade, every presentation make the feeling sink further and further in.
While other athletes took a break from competing, Holland and other triathletes continued their training, targeting the end-of-season ITU World Series final in Cozumel, Mexico.
As it panned out, the championships gained more column inches that they would normally have received, after Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee helped his younger brother Jonny over the line in a moment of true brotherly love.
The final two races of the season, in Canada and Mexico, saw a fifth-place finish and a ‘did not finish’, but Holland said those results had no bearing on the view of her season.
“The last two races didn’t quite go according to plan so I had to finish the season, let it go, leave it behind and focus on the good, rather than the bad, of the season,” said the 30-year-old.
“The extreme highs of the Olympic Games, instead of the lows of finishing in the way I did.
“Since then, it was almost two months ago, I’ve been off training and taking some down time, which has been really nice.
“I’m definitely at the point where I want to get back into it now. There’s only so long I can go without that routine in my life. So much is based around it, your sleep patterns change.
“Your appetite changes, your mood changes, so I almost rely on the exercise to regulate the rest of my life.
“I am thinking about Tokyo and I’m not. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an appeal to try to go to Tokyo and equal, or better, what I’ve already done.
“But at the same time I’m realistic that I might not get there. Qualifying for the British team is very hard, let alone going out and winning stuff.
“It is a big, big, task,” she added. “I almost had the dream 18 months coming into Rio, where everything fell into place and the preparations went perfectly.
“I don’t know if I can ever replicate that again. I’d love the chance to try, and at the moment I’m definitely not ruling out Tokyo.”
And with Holland’s age ever-increasing, she admitted that longer distance triathlons, like an IronMan, become an option to an athlete.
She said: “I’ll get as close to it as I possibly can, I’ll give it a good shot. After that is the Commonwealth Games.
"They are relatively early in 2018, being in Australia, so from then on in I will really look at whether I want to go to Tokyo, whether I think I could go to Tokyo.
“Whether my body is still willing, my mind is still willing, whether the world has moved on, whether I’ve slowed down or whether it is really possible for me.
“I’ll reassess that in a couple of year’s time.
“The longer distance you go, the longer you can go in your career. I’m not sure if that’s the way my career will go.”
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