Non Stanford column: My Olympic countdown begins

Non Stanford
Non Stanford described winning the 2013 Triathlon World Championships as a "wonderful achievement"

February the 20th means one thing - it's six months until I get to live my dream. The chance to go for gold at the Olympics.

It's funny because I was nine when I first asked my mother if I would ever compete at the Olympic Games, and she was unequivocal. "No" was her reply.

But here I am, I've qualified and my whole year revolves around peaking for 11am on 20 August in Rio.

I can vouch for the sugary cocktails and the quality of Rio's Copacabana beach, but that is all going to have to wait. I have a gold medal to win. Then hopefully it'll be champagne not cocktails.

I can't blame my mum for her assessment, in fairness to her, because I wanted to be a gymnast.

She probably saved me a lot of wasted effort. I think doing triathlon shows that I was never made for that.

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A rare and fortunate position

I am in a rare position, a very fortunate position, to be able to start an Olympic year having already qualified.

I don't have to peak for qualifying and then again for the Olympics like most other athletes, as myself and training partner Vicky Holland qualified in Chicago last year.

It has been a stress-free winter and the emotional side can really take it out of you. I have been spared an emotional rollercoaster ride that can leave you exhausted. That should help in August.

But I won't be shouting too loudly about my prospects for Rio. A lot of things can happen as I know as much as anyone how unpredictable a sport I'm in.

Remember I went from being world champion in 2013, to missing virtually the whole of 2014 including the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. That hurt big time.

The Brownlee brothers
The Brownlee brothers have been a huge influence on Stanford's career

Home from home

I am a proud Swansea girl but Leeds has become like a second home for me - it is where my triathlon career has really kicked off.

It has been a life-changing experience for me as our set-up in Leeds is one of the reasons why our athletes have been so successful.

My training team are all really good friends. We spend virtually 24 hours a day with each other, seven days a week. It is really important you get on.

We are happy for each other when any of us do well and it is a massive part of why we are successful.

The Brownlee brothers - Olympic gold medallist Alistair and his bronze-winning brother Jonathan - have been absolutely integral to our success as a team, and they help in shaping the training regime and really set the precedent in regards to attitude and approach.

They view training as going out to play and I love that approach. We are doing something we love and it shouldn't feel like a burden.

They also have an attitude of winning. Getting a podium place has become a bit of a business within British triathlon, and that attitude has spread throughout the team.

Peter Kay
"I'm a huge Phoenix Nights and Car Share fan," says Stanford

Time to relax

People don't really think about it, but you do actually have to be pretty good at relaxing in order to be a successful athlete. I am a pretty good TV watcher.

You have to be able to unwind, the downtime is essential.

Vicky Holland and I love trash TV. Don't Tell the Bride is a favourite of ours and is on often.

We would watch Friends repeats all day, every day if we could.

I'm currently enjoying Prison Break and we are very fond of British comedies too. Obviously I love Gavin and Stacey and I'm a huge Phoenix Nights and Car Share fan.

Non Stanford was talking to BBC Wales Sport's Michael Pearlman.

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