By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 01/11/18 3:59pm
Rio was the “best time of her life”. Then she fell out of love with swimming. Next was a “very special” time on the Gold Coast. And this summer, it was disappointment in Glasgow.
Despite only being 22, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor has been in the swimming game long enough to know the good times will soon roll again.
It’s been a topsy-turvy journey since winning silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics and saying goodbye to the Scholarship programme in 2017 after four years of Sky support.
But things are back on track for Tokyo 2022. Here are the thoughts from Siobhan…
It’s just over a year since I finished my Sky Scholarship and it’s safe to say I really miss being a part of such a wonderful programme.
The last 18 months since Rio have been a bit of a rollercoaster. The Brazil Olympics was the best time of my life and it was undoubtedly the most rewarding experience I have ever had.
However, getting back into training a few months after that was extremely difficult. It took me a while to find my feet again and to set new goals.
I soon got back on track though and soon rediscovered my love for swimming again and I’ve been enjoying the journey on this four-year cycle in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020.
I had my tonsils removed at the end of 2017 and this has helped me a huge amount as I struggled with my health and trying to stay fit for training.
I had a very solid and consistent block of training in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April. I won gold in the 200IM and was the first woman ever to defend her title in that event which was pretty special!
I had such an amazing time in Australia in such a beautiful part of the world, and it was great to see so many of my fellow Scholars alumni doing so well, as well as seeing new Scholars Max (Litchfield) and Freya (Anderson) performing brilliantly too.
After the Commonwealths, I had another really good block of work in the lead-up to the Europeans in Glasgow and I was confident of having a good competition.
Unfortunately, my results weren’t what I wanted, and nor what I had worked for, but on reflection there is a lot I can be proud of from that season, and I know I will learn lessons and put right some mistakes I made this year going forward.
It was great to see Freya and Max swim so well in Glasgow and I’m really pleased they are both doing so well and enjoying being part of the Sky Scholarship programme as I did.
There are so many ups and downs in sport and I encountered many bumps along the road in my journey to an Olympic medal in Rio, so although I am frustrated, I know that ultimately the tough times teach you invaluable lessons and give you the drive and determination to push harder.
Tony Lester (Head of Scholarships) really helped me in the build-up to Rio, and it is great I am still able to check in with him for support and advice. I still really appreciate feeling involved and being connected with the Scholarship programme.
I still stay in contact with and follow the Scholars I was on the programme with, and it’s been a pleasure to watch their individual journeys and see them achieve amazing things.
I believe that we will all continue to do so, and I’m so grateful to Sky for the friendships I have made.