Few people will know the significance of the date August 13. But for thousands of athletes, their supporters and administrators it is the day after the London 2012 Olympics finishes. The day is a vacuum that hits the sporting world every four years that is rarely spoken of and hardly ever prepared for…

…Sara Carrigan, also a Griffith alumnus, knows just how she feels. The former Olympic and Commonwealth Games cyclist arrived at the 2004 Athens Games with the weight of expectation on her. She was among the best cyclists Australia had ever produced and confirmed it with a gold medal ride in the 130 kilometre road race.

“Sally has been around for a while so I’m sure she will be drumming it into herself that she has done all that she can. She is in the best form of her life and she will be telling herself that she is going to do the best that she can,” Ms Carrigan says. But how Pearson feels on August 13 will depend on a couple of factors.

“When it comes to the Olympics there are two types of athletes I think,” Ms Carrigan says. “One is just aiming to get selected and one is aiming to get a result. For the first group just getting selected is their finish line. But for others, selection is just the start.

“With the media hype that surrounds the whole Olympics it certainly amplifies that. You can get worked up into what others are doing when you just need to focus on what you’re doing yourself.

“Nerves are a good thing because they show you care, but they can be disruptive.”

And that intensity on the way into the Olympics can also mean there is a cliff on the other side of the event.

“The biggest thing is that all athletes don’t ever look beyond the Olympics,” Ms Carrigan says.

“Their whole year, their whole four years, for some a whole sporting career, is centred on the Olympics. So there comes a time, some time after, when you say ‘what do I do now’?”

“That came after Beijing for me, because I finished and didn’t get the result I wanted. It was like a grieving process. Everything we have dreamed of and worked towards has come and gone—and it has gone. The event is over. I was dealing with the thought of retiring too and whenever I thought of not riding again I would just burst into tears. I’m not trying to be melodramatic but it is like something has died in our lives.”

But the Griffith Business School graduate put her focus into a coaching business which has since grown to a fulltime, international enterprise.

“I love the buzz of seeing the confidence in someone riding a bike for the first time, or doing their first 100 kilometre ride or riding in their first national championship. I love that I have that spectrum in my work.

“When I was in grade five I wanted to be a teacher, so I first started doing Education at Griffith but later switched to Business because it allowed me to fit in my overseas training more. Now I combine both in a way.”

Read entire Griffith Magazine article here – The Olympic Legacy