Gemma Spofforth spent four years studying other people’s minds – but admits she must conquer her own misgivings to transform world gold into Olympic gold in less than 500 days time.
The 23-year-old has been through thick and thin, both in and out of the pool, ever since a bout of pancreatitis almost curtailed a career in its teens five years ago.
Spofforth spent a year out with the illness, just recovering in time to take up a scholarship at the University of Florida, where she studied, until last year, psychology.
The Portsmouth Northsea ace lost her mother Lesley to cancer less than two years after moving to the States and finished an agonising 0.04 seconds away from Olympic 100m backstroke bronze in 2008.
Spofforth looked to have vanquished her demons after winning world and European gold in the two years proceeding, but admits a poor Commonwealth Games has brought them back.
The former Portsmouth High School pupil picked up three silvers, most notably missing out in the 100m backstroke to Australian Emily Seebohm, and insists managing her mind will be vital to ensuring the London Olympics bring success.
‘Because I studied psychology, there are a lot of mental things going into training but I also do other things on top to keep myself healthy,’ said Spofforth.
‘I was completely stunned by winning gold at the worlds in 2009 in the way that I did. I wasn’t really expecting it at all and it didn’t feel as fast as it actually was.
‘So last year I was really expecting a lot more from myself. I was hoping that I would go a lot, lot faster but unfortunately I over thought things far too much.
‘What I did in 2009 might have hindered me because I think I got a little bit complacent and now I am hoping to into 2012 having had a mental boost this year.
‘I won’t be as complacent as I was after 2009 and this year is a year for me to wash away the cobwebs of 2010 and really look forward to 2012.
‘You have to work hard 24/7 to get your overall goal and so that is one thing I’m definitely working on this year.
‘I’m not quite fully at the point where I’m focusing everything into my sport just yet but when it comes to a year out from 2012, I’ll get my head down and put everything into it.’
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