Performing at an elite level of sport requires a tough mental and emotional discipline and that is not a given thing, it has to be learned. Its just as big a part of your training as the hours in the pool, the gym or the track. How you approach the mental and emotional side of sport will teach you more about yourself than any formal education, and probably be the biggest lesson you will learn... at elite level, you have to learn how to lose and your emotional response to losing is what toughens you up and teaches you who you are.
In sport, talent is incredibly important, but it isn't the be-all and end-all. Through more than 20 years' involvement in elite athletics I've learned that talent never guarantees success. Dedication is important, but it's also crucial that every athlete has the best possible support network every step of the way...
I don't want to claim that community sports aren't facing real difficulties with regard to funding and keeping local facilities open, but it is worth publicising those events where local people are continuing to get involved in mass participation events, despite all the controversial funding issues. These events are also showing even the most cynical of commentators, that even after the lucrative advertising opportunities that the Olympics created have disappeared, corporate business and sponsors are still putting effort and resources into getting communities and young people interested in sport.
There can be a huge shift after an Olympic Games with many leading swimmers retiring. Michael Phelps will be particularly missed at the World Championships because he excelled in so many events... The United States will still dominate but it will be fascinating to see how Germany and especially Australia respond to very poor Olympics performances last summer.