Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix on telling stories of amazing Olympic stars

Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix poses with silver medalist Quan Hongchan in China (Picture: Shutterstock)

It was great to win ten-metre platform bronze and team silver at the World Cup Super Final in China but it got me thinking.

Last weekend in Xi’an was another vital step towards this summer’s Paris Olympics and things are coming along nicely, both for me and the team.

Every day I’m surrounded by amazing team-mates, athletes who dedicate themselves to their sport. But they are also human beings and have great stories to tell, something which I feel we don’t hear enough of at times.

I’m passionate about journalism and in September I am going to university to study while I continue to dive so that I can hopefully be one of the people to help tell these stories.

I’m aware the prism I see sport through is diving. It’s all-consuming and in many ways has been all I have known sport-wise from a very young age.

So I need to have a greater knowledge across a wider range of sports and am trying to get just that, having met with some of our swimmers, watched them train and discovered how complex their sport is.

I also spoke to Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Emily Campbell about weightlifting and it brought home how limited to just one sport I’ve been so far.

Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix competes in the Women 10m Platform final

Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix competes in the Women 10m Platform final (Picture: Getty Images)

I intend to make new friends and meet many more from other sports as I go along. Journalism has always interested in me and I really want to be able to use that as a way of getting over athletes’ back stories.

At a certain point, I knew I wanted to do a degree or take a career in something that was as far away from sport as possible. I like writing and I like to talk, and hopefully I can also understand people’s viewpoints.

A lot of time as an athlete is spent in your own bubble. However, some people still don’t see what we do as a full-time job, despite the incredibly hard work that goes in from athletes, supported by the National Lottery, that is simply not seen by the wider public.

We represent Great Britain on the biggest stage every four years and it’s important for me to get our message across. I’m also aware that while it is the dream of lots of young kids to become an Olympian, it also opens doors for us when we finish competing.

We do sport but we also enjoy the same things as everyone else – I like chocolate, as maybe you do too! We’re not different in any way as people, we just focus our lives around our sport.

For me, aged 19, every day is a learning experience, every camp an education. Real life kicks in when your career in the pool finishes, which hopefully won’t be any time soon, and I am trying to take as much in as I can from the experiences I am gaining.

I have been travelling the world without my parents from a very young age and have immersed myself in cultures across the planet. I wouldn’t have had anything approaching that unique take on life if it wasn’t for diving so I am very grateful for what I have learned, and continue to learn.

My worth is not dependent on my failures, though. I’ll never be perfect and that’s very, very reassuring. I’m not looking for perfection and my faith in God plays a big part in my life and the perspective I have on my career.

The Chinese, who I aspire to and am chasing down for gold medals at the Games, are also not perfect. The ten mark doesn’t mean perfection, it just means excellent.

Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix poses with her bronze medal

Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix poses with her bronze medal (Picture: Getty Images)

So with less than 100 days to go until Paris, I feel content I know who I am and where I’m going, within the greater context of my life.

The more I get to know about other athletes and their sports, and find out about people’s lives, the more I learn and grow and that’s so important as I want to be able to tell people’s stories about who they are away from sport. We’re all just normal people after all, medals or not.

National Lottery players raise more than £30m a week for good causes including vital funding into sport, from grassroots to elite. To find out more, visit http://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk #TNLAthletes


MORE : I’m looking forward to retiring but not before beating the Chinese to Olympic gold in Paris


MORE : Finding your sporting community is like kryptonite to loneliness


MORE : Shove affairs and heated rivalries can push women’s game forward