How much has university life changed since the Olympics?
I don’t go out as much as what I used to, nowhere near as much. You get to a certain age when you start to calm down a bit. I don’t really get that silly drunk anymore, I get drunk and I’m having a good time but I’m not absolutely smashed anymore. To be honest I can’t really handle the hangovers anymore! I prefer to drink less and feel good the next day.
During those two weeks did you ever have to remind yourself that you were actually a part of it all?
I still do now. When I see an a flashback about the Olympics, I still can’t believe I was there. It was just an absolute buzz. I was in the stadium for Bolt’s run, it was unbelievable. We had a free MacDonald’s in the village, so everyone hit it pretty hard afterwards. I came up with the worst case of acne I’ve had since I was seventeen! It was quite an intense atmosphere so it was sort of nice when it actually first finished and you could go back to normality. But I’d do it all over again if I could. I don’t like watching it back because it sort of makes me feel sad. Happy sad, though. If I look back I get the blues, so I try not to go there. It’s all over and done with, and I’ll never have anything like that again.
What do you think when you look back specifically at your performance in the 1,500m semis?
Don’t get me wrong I’m happy with how ran, I’m satisfied. But I could have ran better, I think I could have made that final. I wasn’t really surprised getting to the Semi Final because of how well training had been going towards the Olympics. I knew I was in awesome shape so I expected good results. Before the season started though, if you told me I was going to run 3:34 then I wouldn’t have believed you.
What was the reaction like from that post run interview?
Everyone seemed to absolutely bloody love it to be honest! I was a bit concerned people would think “what a nob” but everyone seemed to love it, especially in Newcastle. We’re a party city, party culture so they loved it back home. It was just honesty. I’ve always said I want to be honest in my interviews, whatever I do I’m always going to tell the truth. I’m not going to be one of these athletes that bullshits and is boring, so I’ll just say whatever is on my mind, even if it is a bit controversial. I’m just a normal lad who happens to run a bit.
So you don’t hesitate when you hit that ‘Tweet’ button?
I would never say anything nasty, because I’m not a nasty person, but if it is in terms of just having a laugh then I don’t think twice really. It’s boring when you see people tweet “just got back from training, going to have a scrummy muffin”, that’s boring. I’m just going to be honest and tweet what I think is entertaining. I don’t mind winding people up, because it’s just banter and a bit of fun, if someone can’t take a joke then they need to get a life.
How has the Olympics changed you as a person or as an athlete, in terms of where you set your goals?
As a person, not in the slightest. One of my good mates said the other day, “that’s what I love about you, you haven’t changed a bit. This time last year when you weren’t really doing the sport and you were the exact same guy, you’re still just a normal geezer”. For me, I just take my training more seriously but that’s because I wanted to though, not because I feel that I ought to. That’s what I want to do with my life. It’s my job now to do this. I really want it, but you’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing, so as long as I keep enjoying it and keep improving then hopefully the success will come.
What was your favourite Olympic moment before London2012?
It was just before I got involved with athletics, the Sydney games and I seen the massive stadium and the huge crowds. It was just unbelievable to see what sport can do for people. It was a spectacle and a show, what people can turn it into. It was phenomenal to see that even at ten years old. My favourite memory from London was just getting on that start line when my name got called. The roar was stupidly loud; the television didn’t do it justice.
How did you cope with the pressure?
I was getting texts of everybody back home the day before my race saying they were all going to the pub to watch me. I had to turn my phone off. It was too much. It was nice and lovely to get all the messages of support off everyone, but you want to switch off before you get on the start line. I have a laugh when I’m warming up though. Have a dance about. That’s the way I cope, put my headphones in, put my house music on and just move about. I get all giddy like a six-year-old at a birthday party. It’s strange and not normal but it’s the way I am. In the semi-final in the warm up area, I was joking round with an Australian kid and had him singing One Direction. I think I’ll always be like that, because it works for me. I’m a relaxed guy.
How do you juggle your social life with all your training?
It’s a case of being sensible about when you have your nights out. I pick and choose them carefully. It’s hard when you’re at uni, because there is so much going on all the time with university, and nights out, it’s always somebody’s birthday. I’m in my fourth and final year now, so obviously I’ve knuckled down, especially after the Olympics. But leading up to it I just got involved with it all, got stuck in there and enjoyed myself. As long as I’ve got up and ran the next day and I’ve ran alright, then I didn’t feel that I was doing anything too wrong. I always get in after a night out and have plenty fluid, have some food and it sounds geeky and nerdy but it does genuinely help a lot, especially if you’ve got a six mile threshold run the next day. I get up every day and my job is to go for a run and train had I’m very lucky. It’s better than having a 9 to 5.
You once said: “To get consistent it probably takes years and maturity”, How good do you think you could be with those years and the maturity?
I’d like to see myself as a medal contender at major championships if I can get that consistency and the training in. Doing that is a totally different thing, you’ve got to get it right on the day and the timing has to be perfect. It’s hard to do, but I definitely think I’ve got the capability to do it.
How much has Steve Cram been as an athlete, starting at the beginning of your athletics days and giving you tips post-Olympics?
He is a good bloke to get on with really. As a kid he was my idol, being from the North East, being a world champ. He’s always there to offer a few words.
Do you think you could be up there with Cram and Foster?
I hope so, that is the aim. I’m in this sport to be one of the best and to be remembered. I’m not here just to make finals or make teams, I’m not interested in that.
Why is the North East a hotbed for athletics?
I think it’s because we’re quite tough, not as in we’d make good fighters. We’re hard working. Maybe it’s just the rich tradition because people just get into sport in the first place and you’ve got more people competing and therefore you’re more likely to identify talent.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
This is a cheesy response but as long as I’m happy I don’t care what I’m doing. Whether I’ve won x amount of medals or I’ve won one medal or not won any, as long as I’m happy with what I have achieved and I’ve gave it everything then that’s all I can ask for. The head coach of athletics before the Olympics said “your career is a journey and it’s about enjoying the journey because it’s a long time. It’s not always plain sailing, you’ve just got to make the most of the whole journey” and I think that’s quite poignant.
For more information on Ross, visit his website here