Team GB race walker Tom Bosworth is confident he can use the experience he gained from competing at the Olympics as a stepping stone to even greater achievements.
The 26 year-old member of Tonbridge Athletic Club broke his own British record on his way to finishing sixth in his 20km race in Rio, and described the Olympics as an unforgettable experience.
It was made even more memorable after the race when his partner Harry Dineley accepted his marriage proposal, which was made on the famous Copacabana beach in Brazil.
Tom believes his achievement last month will provide a valuable launch pad for the Tokyo Games in 2020.
He said: “It was great to have all the support of family, friends and my now fiancé out there in Rio.
“I knew how well the training in the month leading up to the event had gone, so I was in great shape, which helped me beat my personal best by 30 seconds for the national record.
“I hadn’t set out to lead the race from the front, but just stuck to my plan at the pace I was comfortable with. In the end, I don’t think I could have done any better than I did.”
One of his main aims was to help raise the profile of UK race walking, which he hopes has been achieved through his Olympic appearance.
One of his only disappointments was that he didn’t have as much chance to explore Rio as he would have liked, but it did prove a fitting location for his bold Copacabana beach proposal.
“Proposing was something that I’d wanted to do for a long time, but I thought I’d wait until after the race, which left us with happy memories of the Games.
“Those were probably the craziest three days of my life,” recalled Tom, who felt his decision to come out as gay has enabled him to be more relaxed and focused, with his results over the past year reaching new levels. A wedding date has yet to be finalised, but plans are on the horizon.
While much of Tom’s training is in Leeds, he will be returning to Tonbridge Athletic Club shortly to thank his friends and trainers for their support.
He added: “The season is pretty much finished now, but I will be focusing on securing funding for 2017. I think I can now class myself in this bracket, as being among the best in the world, and look to win a medal at the next World Championships ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.”