Middlesbrough’s Olympic swimmer Aimee Willmott is proud to be representing her town and country at the London Olympics. Last month she stepped out of the pool to launch the SABIC Tees Pride10k which she will be running herself on September 2nd.
This interview was conducted with Sarah Colley of Tfm FM and took place on 21st June at a rainy Acklam Hall close to the start and finish line of Teesside’s premier 10k event. Aiming to attract numbers of entrants this year the organisers enlisted Aimee and fellow Olympic competitor, table tennis champion Paul Drinkhall to officially launch the race and inspire people to sign up.
Aimee introduces herself, talks about SABIC Tees Pride 10k and then her hopes for the Olympics and how proud she feels to be taking part in the greatest show on earth.
I am Aimee Willmott and I will be competing at the Olympic games in 400 metres individual medley.
Q: We will get onto the Olympics in a minute but first of all why are you here in Middlesbrough today?
AW: I am here to help promote the Middlesbrough 10k. I did it last year and it was fantastic. So I think more people should get involved and take part this year.
Q: Why do you think more people might take part this year?
AW: Well, it is Olympic year so obviously there is a big emphasis on sport. So if people can do something that they enjoy and take part and do anything really that helps show that we are an active country.
Q: So I take it that you are as confident out of the water with your running ability?
AW: I’m not a fantastic runner. Last year I was really happy when I finished and got under the hour. But this year hopefully if I can go a little bit faster then I will be happy with that. But if not it is just a great start to the season to get fit really.
Q: The Olympics are coming up, how is your training coming on.
AW: Training has stepped up over the lat couple of weeks, so it is really hard at the moment. That’s all because in a few weeks time I will be easing off the training so hopefully it will feel a lot easier and I will obviously race faster. So at the moment it is really hard so I can’t wait fro the easy bit.
Q: And what are your hopes for the Olympics. Where do you think you might end up?
AW: I would like to race and finish in a personal best time. If I can do that then I will be really happy with myself. But my ultimate aim would be to come top eight and make that Olympic final. Then I would be just over the moon.
Q: And do you have anyone that you think is real competition, threat to you when you are out there?
AW: Everyone that is in the event are around similar times so it is going to be a really close race. So, obviously it is just about who is ready on the day to get in and race and if I can race my best then I have got as good a chance as anyone else.
Q: How do you feel about representing the north east and your country?
AW: I am really excited and obviously really proud because everyone in Middlesbrough and all over the country are really excited for the Olympics. So it is fantastic to be representing them as well as myself. To just try and do everyone proud that is going to be watching because it is in London an is not going to happen again for a long time. So it is just going to be fantastic to get involved.
Q: How long have you been swimming? Was it from a really young age? Tell us a bit about your journey?
AW: Yeah I started swimming in school lessons. My dad taught me to swim when I was little. And when I was 9 I had my first little competition and then from that at 11 and 12 I swam at national championships. Then when I was 13 I got selected for Youth Olympic games and then everything progressed from there. That was when I realised that I could be a fairly good swimmer if I just put in the effort and all that hard work.
Q: What is it about swimming that you obviously live so much?
AW: The training is really hard. Anything that takes a lot of effort isn’t going to be easy. But I guess it is the reward that when you are finishing you know that you’ve swam well and it is all because you have done all that training and all that hard work. When you are training and the rest of the team and the people you are training with, you are all bouncing off each other. It is just fantastic to be part of that feel good attitude and feel good environment.
Q: Can you tell us something about the training you do everyday, please?
AW: Yes I train ten times a week in the pool and I train twice a week in the gym. So I do about 60 000 metres in the water, so its quite a gruelling schedule and swimming is quite hard. So I train four mornings a week, every evening, Saturday morning and I have Sunday off. So it is quite a busy week, every week. So it is fantastic when you just get to lay in on that Sunday.
Q: So, you have got to be really dedicated then?
AW: Yes, you have to be really dedicated in anything you really want to achieve in. And I guess that I was really lucky that I was fairly good at swimming and I enjoyed it. So both things together it just pays off And all that hard work and training it ahs been showing the rewards.
Q: Where are you training?
AW: My training is at Middlesbrough swimming club at the Neptune swimming baths. I train with quite a few other swimmers, a bit younger than me but they are obviously as enthusiastic as I am so we bounce off each other in training.
Q: It is great then that you can be based locally and train locally.
AW: Yes it is great that I still live at home and all my friends from school are around here, so it is fantastic that I am swimming and everything is not just about swimming. When I want to get away from it I can go and see my friends because they’re not swimmers. So it is fantastic to have both sides, swimming and my social side.
Q: And you said as you come towards the Olympics your training will scale down.
AW: Yes training normally picks up a couple of weeks before and then about the two weeks before everything gets a bit easier. So I will stop going in the gym training and I’ll do less metres and it will be less intense and more race specific. It gets easier so it makes you feel a lot fresher and you’ve got a lot more energy and its just basically makes you feel a lot fresher before you race.
Q: You must be really looking forward to being part of the Olympic village and the buzz and everything.
AW: I can’t wait. Even just to get there and just be in that atmosphere of all the Team
GB athletes and even athletes from other countries. It is just going to be fantastic to experience such a huge event. Obviously I’m 19 and its just going to be completely overwhelming and I just can’t wait to get in and race on the day. And then I’ve got the rest of the Olympics to experience the whole thing.
Q: So it is fantastic that you should be 19 now when the Olympics is in London, in this country.
AW: Yes I am lucky. I could have been 12 or I could have been 40. I am lucky that it has come at the right time in my swimming career. There is nothing that can determine that it has just happened and obviously I have got the luck of the draw and it is just fantastic.
Q; But it is the result of a lot of hard work.
AW: Yes, a lot of hard work and dedication but it is just something I have always wanted to do so I have trained for it. So I am just really lucky that it has paid off.
Q: Well I hope that it all goes really well for you.
SABIC TEES PRIDE 10K’S OLYMPIAN LAUNCH
Two of Teesside’s London 2012 Olympians are calling on club runners, fitness fanatics, fundraisers and couch potatoes to get into the Olympic spirit by entering the forthcoming SABIC Tees Pride 10k or 3k Fun Run. Aimee Willmott and Paul Drinhall launched this year’s SABIC Tees Pride 10k.
Now in its eighth year, Teesside’s biggest annual running event takes place on Sunday, September 2, with its Middlesbrough Council organisers targeting 4,000 entrants for the first time.
The route of the SABIC Tees Pride 10k takes in Acklam Road, Ladgate Lane, Marton Road, Marton Burn Road, Emerson Avenue, Green Lane, Acklam Road again and finally Hall Drive.
There will be water stations and entertainment from local bands around the route, while all 10k and 3k runners will receive a commemorative medal and T-shirt.
To sign up for either run, visit www.runmiddlesbrough.com, call 01642 515672 for an application form or pick one up at Middlesbrough leisure centres or the central library. The 10k is also open to wheelchair athletes.
Entry for the SABIC Tees Pride 10k is £15 or £13 for affiliated runners. Entry for the 3k Fun Run is £7, with family entries just £24 for two adults and up to three children aged under-16.
Those interested in running for a charity can find out more at www.runmiddlesbrough.com. The site also includes details of various local running routes, a training plan for beginners, plus videos and pictures from previous runs.