ATHENS, Greece, August 25. SOUTH Carolina sophomore Tracey Richardson is getting ready for her competition Wednesday when she will represent Great Britain on 3m Springboard at the Athens 2004 Olympics.
Sitting in the shade next to NBC's Today show set in Athens, Tracey and USC Head Coach Todd Sherritt visited with USCSPORTS.COM about her Olympic journey. SwimInfo shares the interview with you in another of our series about the personal aspects of the Olympic experience.
USC: First Tracey, please explain the difference between Great Britain and England. A lot of people think they are the same place.
TR: Great Britain is England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland – all together. We compete as one nation at all world championships. The only one that is different is the Commonwealth Games when we compete as each individual country. I live in Essex, which is a suburb of London.
USC: Was it your dream to compete here?
TR: Yes, it's something I have always wanted to do since I was a little girl. I wasn't sure which Olympics it would be, but the last few years my aim has been for Athens 2004.
USC: How did you start diving as a youngster?
TR: I did gymnastics as a youngster. I was at the local pool one day and started doing some gymnastics off the diving board. I was there with my parents and they said 'if they are going to do it you are going to do it properly and take some lessons'. So I did and here I am.
USC: Why did you choose USC?
TR: I researched the university itself. I met Todd Sherritt at World Juniors and I also knew a few people who were going to school there. A lot of people are always saying, 'where are you from? I love your accent'. The funniest thing people in South Carolina ask me 'Does it really rain in England every day'.
USC: Has it been hard to here for so long before you competed?
TR: Yes, it's been really hard. We've been here for over 3 weeks. But we did a good thing. Went into the Village, got all checked in and then went to our training camp so we were here and then left. Then we came back for a week and then left for a few days to go to Cyprus to just relax and catch our breath. It's been broken up so it's been pretty good.
USC: You were on NBC's telecast during the Opening Ceremonies, walking out with Great Britain. Can you talk about that experience?
TR: Yes, it was just amazing. It was just so electric. I heard I was on television in the States and was so excited to be on the teller so much. They put us in height order and because I am so small I was right in the front. It was long time to stand up – six hours – but it was well worth it.
It was good that it was so much earlier. There were a few people that dove the next few days so they had to watch it on television. It was a wonderful experience and nice my legs could recover.
USC: Have you run into any famous people since you've been here?
TR: I met Tim Henman (tennis player). The Prime Minister (Tony Blair) came and had lunch with us one day. Princess Anne came to meet with us as well. It's been very nice.
USC: What is your goal tomorrow?
TR: Tomorrow my goal is to be top 18 and make the semi-finals on Thursday. Then I would like to make the top 12 and get through to the finals Thursday night. It is going to be case of staying consistent really. There are some really good divers. You have to be consistent.
USC: Will you compete in the next Olympics?
TR: I am just 21 so right now the plan is to compete in the next Olympics. I will only be 25 so that's a good age for a diver at the Olympics.
USC: How do you like the Village?
TR: it's been very good. It's very spread out so you don't get the feeling you are on top of each other all the time. The security is very good. We live with the rest of the British team so that gives you a chance to meet many people from other sports. Plus there's free food 24 hours a day. That's nice. They have a lot of training facilities out there so that's nice.
USC: You redshirted last year at USC. Any predictions for what could happen next year at USC for you?
TR: I haven't thought about next year yet. A medal at the NCAAs would be nice, but I haven't thought about it that much.
USC: What did your Gamecock teammates tell you about coming to the Olympics?
TR: They just told me to get out there and have fun. To compete to the best of my ability. They wanted me to get the most from it and not be too nervous.
USC: Is it nice to have Coach Sherritt here?
TR: It's really nice. He's given me a different angle after training in England for a month. Todd has been great. The last few years I have improved so much and he is so much to thank for that.
Just want to say hello to USC and that I will be back shortly!