MELANIE Marshall will be tuning into the Olympics to cheer on her Team GB pals this week – but the Wrangle swimmer admits that watching London 2012 will be hard for her to do.
For the veteran of two Games – she competed at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, where she ended her career – the event on home soil has arrived four years too late for her.
And as she waves the Union Flag to support her friends in the pool, she will still wish she could be there.
“It’s really hard. I really want to still be doing it, but you get to a stage where your body says it can’t do this anymore,” the current City of Derby swimming coach told The Standard.
“In the past you worked four years to get there. Now it’s not the same.
“The hardest thing is that you don’t feel special anymore.
“You felt special pulling on that GB hat, like you were someone and had achieved something.
You don’t feel that anymore when you’ve retired.”
Marshall is England’s most decorated woman at a single Commonwealth Games, winning six medals at Melbourne 2006.
However, her Olympic experiences haven’t been the same.
She boarded the plane to Athens as the world’s number one 200m freestyle swimmer.
But after failing to make the final, she dropped out of the 100m freestyle to concentrate on the relay. Sadly, there was no British medal there.
Four years later, again she was unable to win a medal.
With this in mind, she says her own personal highlight at a Games was in China, watching as her close friend Rebecca Adlington claimed two golds in the pool.
As a true patriot, Marshall also believes having the Olympics in London is a good thing for the nation.
She continued: “We’re a great nation, which does sports events so much better than most of the world.
“We’ll raise and give more money to charity than any other country would from the Olympics.
“Too many people focus on 0.01% of the stuff that’s going on instead of the positives.
“People complain about how much it’ll cost – but it’ll bring millions more into the country.”
But even more important is the legacy she believes the Games will leave – inspiring generations to come.
Marshall said: “It will leave a legacy. Not just with stadiums, but now kids of eight years of age will be inspired to get involved in sport.
“We’ll hopefully create a generation of top athletes in all sports.
“There’s no reason why we won’t produce years and years of great athletes – it’s all set up now.
“And the other great thing is the spin-off events.
“There’ll be so many kids in schools getting involved in more sports. That’s the brilliant part.
“I still go into schools and after Athens you didn’t get the same response from the kids that you do now.
“Now, because the Olympics is in London, they’re much more excited.”
When not cheering on her teammates, Marshall takes her role as coach seriously.
She has helped guide teenager Adam Peaty into the GB junior team, helping him move from 15th in his region to the country’s number one breaststroker.
“It’s a great feeling to see my team do well, big time,” she added.
Out of action in the pool maybe, but Marshall is still looking forward to one great challenge this year.
In October, she will join fellow Olympians Adlington, Jo Jackson and Ross Davenport in a 450km cycle ride across Zambia, hoping to raise £50,000 for Sport in Action, a charity for whom she is an ambassador.
They will cycle four days from Livingston to Lusaka.
There are several ways you can make a donation to Melanie’s cause.
You could visit the JustGiving page by logging on to http://www.justgiving.com/ZambiaCycle
Alternatively, you can give by text.
To donate, text TPDF50 and your amount to 70070. For example, if you want to donate £10, text TPDF50 £10 to 70070.