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For anyone who is part of a team, I'm sure one of the most exciting moments for a lot of them is the moment you put on your team kit. Whether it's a sport team or a corporate team, when you put on the ‘club colours’ you feel part of something bigger, part of a collective - safe in the knowledge that every one around you has the same goal. That is what being part of a team is all about, knowing that the people around you are there to back you up every step of the way, and that it's not just about you anymore, you have a responsibility to perform, not for yourself, but for your team mates and your country.
I can remember the first time I was given my football kit when I was 11 years old at my local club, I can remember my first Great Britain kit for both sailing and rowing, and now I have the huge honour to put on the Team GB kit. I can safely say the feeling hasn't changed.
A lot of people presume that when you have competed internationally for a number of years you take it all in your stride. In some ways this is true, you learn to compete at the highest level consistently; but I still get nervous for a race, I still worry about the ‘what ifs’ and I still feel a huge amount of pride every time I put on the Great Britain rowing kit, that never goes away.
Olympic Kit is special, once every 4 years there is one team that represents the whole of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland from all different sports. The British Olympic Association, understand the occasion and how much it means to athletes. This time around they have made a crest specifically for Rio, containing the floral emblems of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which adds another unique touch to the Rio games. We went to the NEC in Birmingham to collect our kit, the first team to do so. Its not a matter of just picking up a bag of kit and going on your way. Its part of the Olympic experience and they really put on a show.
The GB crest which provided the logo for the kit designed by Stella McCartney.
It is quite an experience, upon arrival you are allocated a personal shopper who takes you through the various fitting sections; formal wear, opening and closing ceremony, competition wear and everything in between. I'm not normally one for trying things on - buying my own clothes consists of walking into a shop flicking through the sizes and looking vaguely into a mirror. But this was a novelty, if it was a bit small or a bit short I had someone to hand me another item within seconds. I have never got through so many items of clothes so quick, on and off like a factory floor, and there is a lot of kit!
Here is a video of a quick run through the kitting out set-up: https://youtu.be/Ut9N4tCuMuQ
Volunteers making sure it all runs smoothly
I had always heard stories of how much kit we received, but I never quite thought it would be wheeled away on an airport luggage trolley.
My team at the ALDI checkout
I entered the NEC as a member of the Great Britain Rowing Team - I left as part of Team GB.