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Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 11:59 UK

Brownsdon's memories of Olympics

Suki Brownsdon
Suki Brownsdon swam breaststroke for Great Britain

With the Olympics in full swing, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire's Duncan Jones has been talking to local Olympians past, present and, hopefully, future.

Of all of the Coventry and Warwickshire legends who will be celebrated in the city later this month, surely none is a more enthusiastic Olympian than swimmer Suki Brownsdon.

Brownsdon, who swam for the City of Coventry for six years from 1992, competed in four Olympic Games for Great Britain.

Today, she lives near Brisbane in Australia but is very much a cheerleader for Team GB as ever.

Brownsdon was only 14 when she went to her first Olympics in Moscow in 1980. It was quite an ordeal at such a tender age, as she recalls: "When I left for Moscow, my coach said to me at the airport 'Remember, when you are on the blocks, the whole world is watching'.

"Not the best advice for a 14-year-old. My knees were shaking even during the warm-up."

Having completed in the 100m breaststroke in Moscow, Brownsdon was selected for the 200m breaststroke for the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

The Seoul Olympics of 1988 was Brownsdon's busiest as she competed in four events but her swansong in Barcelona remains her favourite Olympics, though not necessarily for the sporting competition.

Suki Brownsdon
Brownsdon's son is Australia's 200m breaststroke champion at 14-year-old level

"I love culture which makes me wonder why I live in Australia. Maybe Barcelona was my favourite because I think I knew in my heart of hearts that it might be my last Olympics so made the most of seeing more than the airport, village and swimming pool."

With an Olympic career stretching over 12 years, Brownsdon is well placed to assess how the Games have developed.

"The Games have changed enormously. The villages now are full of things to do, shops, cinemas, computer rooms, etc. and the food halls cater for all cultures with different areas for different types of food and are now big enough to cater for 10,000 athletes and the support staff.

"It seems to be so much more commercial now than ever and security measures are much more tough, but rightly so.

Athletes are more hungry to win now for financial bonuses from their own individual sponsors or in some countries, the government bonuses which of course has increased the use of performance-enhancing drugs. That issue unfortunately can't be denied."

Shortly before her final Olympic appearance, she joined the City of Coventry swimming club and has very fond memories of her time in the city.

Currently, I travel back from Australia two to three times a year presenting in schools for the British Olympic Foundation Fingers crossed the project will continue through until 2012

Suki Brownsdon

"I did some swimming early on at Livingston Road Baths, loved the fact that it was an odd length pool and very old. Coventry Baths was always really tranquil in the mornings which was such a nice atmosphere to swim in.

"When I made the Olympics for City of Coventry in 1992, I was presented with my Great Britain tracksuit and your swimming coach also comes and stands on the rostrum.

"This was great but it had been such a long journey from 1980 to 1992, I wish all my coaches had been there as each and every one of them had contributed to my success."

Brownsdon still has family in Coventry and returns to the city regularly. It remains close to her heart even though she moved to Australia in 2003 and her eldest son is the reigning 14-year-old boys' Australian 200m breaststroke champion.

In fact he could even represent Australia in London 2012, though not if Brownsdon has anything to do with it. Mention the London Games in four years time, and there is no doubt that Suki remains a very proud Brit.

"It means everything to me. I was in New Zealand working at the British & Irish Lions tour when the announcement was made that the Games would be in London, watching a dodgy television with no sound.

"The sight of the Brits jumping up and down with joy meant I didn't need the sound to tell me the outcome. I decorated the British & Irish Lions merchandise tent with balloons.

"Currently, I travel back from Australia two to three times a year presenting in schools for the British Olympic Foundation. Fingers crossed the project will continue through until 2012. I am determined to be involved with the 2012 Games in some way - all offers considered!"

Brownsdon is among the Coventry and Warwickshire Olympic legends whose achievements will be recognised at the Olympic handover celebration in Coventry's University Square on 24 August.

Everyone is welcome to share in the event which will mark the Olympic handover from Beijing to London.

Olympics venues map

BBC Sport's Olympic map

Find out about the Beijing swimming and diving venue

Swimming medals table

Sunday, 24 August 2008 10:17 UK
see also
Olympics blog
07 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Beijing 2008
14 Feb 08 |  Olympics
Guide to synchro
02 Mar 06 |  Swimming

related internet links:
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Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
1 also show each event results forUSA 12 9 10 31
Men's 100m Backstroke 1 1 0
Men's 100m Butterfly 1 0 0
Men's 100m Freestyle 0 0 1
Men's 200m Backstroke 1 1 0
Men's 200m Butterfly 1 0 0
Men's 200m Freestyle 1 0 1
Men's 200m Individual Medley 1 0 1
Men's 400m Freestyle 0 0 1
Men's 400m Individual Medley 1 0 1
Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay 1 0 0
Men's 4 x 100m Medley Relay 1 0 0
Men's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay 1 0 0
Women's 100m Backstroke 1 0 1
Women's 100m Breaststroke 0 1 0
Women's 100m Butterfly 0 1 0
Women's 100m Freestyle 0 0 1
Women's 200m Backstroke 0 1 0
Women's 200m Breaststroke 1 0 0


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