Four years ago Bryony Page had mixed emotions over her involvement in London 2012, but this summer’s achievements in Rio left her in no doubt about how to feel.
Page won women’s trampoline silver in Brazil, but four years earlier had been in tears upon entering the North Greenwich Arena knowing she would not be competing.
At the age of 21, Page was part of Team GB’s Ambition Programme for promising young athletes and coaches, who get an inside experience of an Olympic Games to hopefully prepare them for when they qualify to compete themselves.
Page harboured ambitions to compete at London 2012 but when she wasn’t selected and those hopes were dashed, her route to the Games came through the Ambition Programme.
She watched on as teammate Kat Driscoll, a graduate of the Beijing 2008 Ambition Programme, agonisingly missed out on a place in the final, loving her experience of the greatest show on earth, but heartbroken that it wasn’t her competing.
Shaw at Kitting Out for the London 2012 Ambition Programme
“It was incredible, but also some of my worst memories,” said Page, a three-time national champion.
“I remember walking into the arena and it wasn’t me on the floor, competing. I just burst into tears that I hadn’t made it to London, that was the moment where it sunk in that I wasn’t going to be competing in those Olympic Games.
“Then to watch Kat compete I was so happy for her, in the fact that she did a really, really, solid routine. The fact that she had all that pressure of it being a home Games, and it was her first one.
“I got goosebumps watching her. The crowd, having everyone cheering for her, I get goosebumps thinking about it now.
“The high of that was incredible, but the low of realising I wasn’t competing, was the sinking moment.
“But being part of the Ambition Programme helped me to feel that atmosphere, and also feel the motivation to not be the person missing out."
And four years later, spurred on to no longer be watching from the sidelines, Page took centre stage and crowned her debut Olympic experience by bringing home a silver medal, with teammate and friend, Driscoll by her side.
London 2012's Ambition Programme with the Olympic Torch at Loughborough University
“The London 2012 Ambition Programme gave me the experience of the Olympic Village, the dining hall, Team GB house, how people live there,” she added.
“So that when I went to Rio, I said to my coach and Kat that the Olympic Park and the Village and the atmosphere was exactly how I thought it would be.
“The Ambition Programme had helped me realise that, so I felt much more comfortable in the Olympic environment.”
And Page was not alone in graduating from the 2012 programme to competing in Rio.
Of the 105 athletes in the Beijing programme, 43 went on to compete in London, while 15 of the 112 summer sport athletes named for London, competed in Rio.
Of those 15 Susannah Townsend won gold with the women’s hockey team while Marcus Ellis and Daniel Goodfellow won badminton and synchronised diving bronze respectively.
And with all the athletes still in touch via a Facebook group, Page had a ready-made Olympic family for her in Rio.
“There were quite a few athletes from the London Ambition Programme who qualified for Rio and it was amazing to see that,” she said.
“I felt more part of the Games, leading up to it, because of that and knowing people from a lot of different sports.
“Even with the Winter Games, there were people that I knew so I felt more involved when I was watching.”