Inspiring a Nation

Champneys is proud of its relationship with some the UK’s best and most successful athletes. From Sally Gunnell, Colin Jackson and Greg Rutherford our resorts have welcomed a number of gold medallists over the years. Most recently, we caught up Olivia Breen who’ll be competing for gold in the long jump, 100m and 4x100m relay in the upcoming Paralympic Games. 

First of all Olivia, big congratulations on being selected for the GB Paralympic team for Rio. You must be excited? 

Thank you so much. I am so happy to have been selected for Rio. All my hard work over the last four years has been leading up to this point - the prospect of competing in Rio was what got me to training on cold and wet winter mornings and I now can't wait to get there.   

And you’ll be competing in three events: long jump, 100m and 4x100. Tell us a little bit about your preparation, hard work to say the least… 

It has been hard work but I have a great team of coaches at Speedworks, led by Jonas and Julie Dodoo. I am really lucky to have been selected to compete in all three of my events. Long jump is still quite a new event for me as I only started in 2014. It is a really technical event so for someone with co-ordination problems - it is pretty tricky to say the least. The training for the 100m compliments the training for the long jump as you need to really attack the runway before you hit the board. My speed has improved again this season and I was really happy to get a 100m personal best at the London Anniversary Games a few weeks back. 

We can of course testify the hard work that you’ve put in. You were at our Forest Mere resort on Christmas Day using the pool. That’s become a tradition for you hasn’t it? 

Haha! It definitely has become a tradition in our family. I was actually using the gym on Christams Day with my brothers, Dan and Jack, and Sky Sports News came down and filmed me. Training is a huge part of my life and it doesn't stop just because it's Christmas Day. Champneys at Forest Mere has been so incredibly generous and supportive since London 2012. I have been living away in St Albans and then Hatfield for the last few years and training at Oaklands College and then Lee Valley London, and it has been amazing to be able to go to Forest Mere and use the facilities there as it is so close to where I live in Liphook. The gym is great and I love going to the pool and new relaxation area. Each time I use the pool and relaxation area I feel as though I have been on a little holiday - it is so relaxing. 

On a rare day off from your busy schedule. You enjoyed a little trip to Champneys for a well-earned spot of pampering. How did you enjoy your time?

It was an amazing experience. Since coming back from the European Championships in June, life has been a bit of a whirlwind. For one reason or another, my performances hadn’t gone to plan, so I was under a lot of pressure ahead of the Paralympic selection. It was an anxious build-up ahead of getting the good news the day before my 20th birthday. My coach gave me a few days off as a result, so I thought it was important to recharge my batteries. It was just nice to completely relax for a few days and spend some time with my boyfriend TJ. It was just what I needed before getting my head back down and training hard before leaving for holding camp at Belo Horizonte at the end of August.

Having won bronze in the 100m relay at the London 2012 Paralympics, what would it mean for you to win a medal in Rio? 

It would mean everything, particularly in an individual event. The sprints have become really fast in my class since London and there have been a lot of changes. I am running times now which are over a tenth of a second faster than the gold medal winning time in London in the 100m, so I know I am in good form. However, I am realistic about my medal chances in the 100m. We have a very real chance of a gold medal in the relay and we go into the Games as World Champions. If we can hold our heads and get the baton around it could be very exciting.