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How Amy Williams' life will change, by Olympic stars

Amy Williams

Manic 24 hours for golden girl Williams

Somerset slider Amy Williams will return home to a different world, an Olympic gold medal around her neck, following her victory at the Vancouver Winter Games.

The three British gold medallists from Olympics past among BBC Sport's reporting staff in Vancouver and Whistler understand that more than most.

Here, they offer their advice on coping with the aftermath of Olympic glory.

Matthew Pinsent
Sir Matthew Pinsent
Rowing gold at Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004

While Amy is at the Games, in a funny way she will stay insulated from the majority of what is about to happen, because she's hard to get at here.

The media here are now sated - the BBC has spoken to her on TV, so we won't go back and talk to her on a daily basis, and the newspapers will do her once and that's it.

But her life will change when she goes home. There will be a reception at the airport with more media there and a camera crew ready to capture the first time she steps off the plane.

Some people put their lives on hold to go on reality TV, just to get the opportunities Amy will now get in the next six months

The initial six to eight weeks will then be pretty crazy. She will face anything from going into town and being shocked by how many people say well done, ask for autographs or stop for a photo, to Jonathan Ross saying 'Come on, we need you on the show'.

It's really important she stays relaxed and enjoys it. It can be quite freaky - you're suddenly not sure where it will all start and stop, and what it means. Spending time with the people you think deserve your time the most is very difficult. Arguably, you get less time with your family than you did when you were training.

You can end up feeling like you want time away from the sport, yet all you're asked to do is relive that one sporting moment; feeling torn between escaping and making the most of it.

And you do want to make the most of it - in terms of fame, respect and money. It's a big thing for winter sports to win an Olympic gold medal, and if you never achieve it again you want to get the most out of this one, maybe set yourself up with it. People achieve that to varying degrees.

Amy needs to have a mechanism where she makes the most of it but can still train. Look at Becky Adlington after her two swimming gold medals at Beijing 2008: she went back to the pool and the film crews had gone, it was back to reality. It will be for Amy, too, at some point.

So she should take it with a pinch of salt. You aren't always going to be invited to the Baftas or these other red carpet events. Be relaxed about it coming and relaxed about it going.

Some people put their lives on hold to go on reality TV, just to get the opportunities Amy will now get in the next six months. She should be confident in the fact she's achieved that in the most respectful, hard-working and deserving way.

She is going to be famous, and should never cash in on that respect. She doesn't have to squabble with an endless line of Z-list celebrities to get into the pages of Heat magazine. She will get to the front of the queue for a while, and that should be fantastic fun.

Amy should be prepared for an onslaught of media attention and the realisation that she is now the property of the media - they can write what they like about her.

Beforehand, nobody is interested in you. Then, all of a sudden, they want to know everything about you.

Amy Williams' video profile, filmed before the Games

Amy needs to enjoy it for the moment and make sure she has plenty of long dresses, because she is going to be invited out to lots of things. Enjoy it for now, I would tell her, but don't lose focus on what else you want to achieve.

Some of the perks for me, after my gold medal, were being invited into the Royal Box at Wimbledon, plus being on A Question of Sport, Ready Steady Cook and The Weakest Link. But the big highlight was getting an MBE from the Queen.

Amy is quite similar to me in that my sport is not high-profile, then I suddenly became a big Olympic story. Curling was low-key before it all happened. My message to her is enjoy it for a while, but then knuckle down.

It's not so much how it changes your life as how it changes the way others perceive you.

That was a bit odd. For three or four days after I won gold, I wanted the world to stop so I could catch up with what people were thinking about me. Amy has been under radar but at her first major event she has won Olympic gold. Where do you go from there?

She needs to try to maintain her own focus: let everyone else do the waffling. Listen to it all, be very gracious and accepting, but realise that you as a person remain the same.

An Olympic gold medal opens doors but, at the same time, if someone opens a door for you, you have to deliver what you need to when you walk through it. A lot of other people have Olympic medals so it doesn't really achieve anything in that respect.

Her life will certainly have major changes for her to deal with, and hopefully she'll be surrounded by right people. I would simply tell her that in order to deal with tomorrow, never forget where you were yesterday.

Sir Matthew Pinsent and Robin Cousins were talking to Ollie Williams; Rhona Martin was talking to Anna Thompson.

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see also
Williams driven by Turin setback
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
Williams slides to British gold
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
Gold medal stuns 'speechless' Williams
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
Williams's gold - behind the scenes
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
GB's Williams slides to skeleton gold
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
Women's skeleton highlights
20 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Amy Williams' video profile
29 Jan 10 |  Vancouver 2010
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
Robin Cousins reflects on Lake Placid gold
13 Feb 10 |  Figure skating

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