For most of us, the holiday checklist is a pretty standard affair – suncream, toothbrush, swimming costume, perhaps a miniature sewing kit if you’re the ‘just in case’ packer. But for an athlete preparing for the most important sporting event of their career, packing the right items is more crucial than ever. It’s not just sporting equipment; home comforts, good luck tokens and everyday essentials make an appearance in the suitcase of champions. We’ve been in touch with past medalists who competed in games from Mexico to Athens and Sydney, to uncover the most important items that they brought with them for what was, arguably, the pinnacle of their athletic careers.
Gail competed in women’s badminton for Great Britain in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008), winning silver in Athens. Her packing list consisted of English tea bags, DVD box sets, a pack of cards and poker chips, multi-use face cream, and Jaffa cakes.
Gail now works as a Youth Sport Trust and Badminton Sport England Ambassador, inspiring young people to be more active and lead a healthy lifestyle. She has two children, Harry and Oliver with husband Ed. Gail continues to inspire others with her motivational keynote speeches.
Ian has is a double medalist who cycled in the 1962 Mexico games, plus the Munich (1972) and Montreal (1976) with his team, winning bronze medals. During the Mexico games, Ian was just 19 and studying dentistry- taking 7 weeks out of studying to compete. He packed Gray’s Anatomy and Restorative Dentistry books, Vick’s vapor rub, his lucky long white socks, and rolls of tape in the GB colours, which he stuck to his bike’s handlebars for inspiration. Ian also packed a camera, but hardly took any photos (apart from the opening ceremony) and on returning home had none of the actual competition or medal ceremonies.
Ian pursued his longterm dream of becoming a dentist and now owns a cosmetic dental practice (www.meondental.com), and an aesthetic clinic (www.meonface.com). He has won several awards and accolades and lives in Petersfield in Hampshire. Ian is married with four children and 3 grandsons.
Donna competed in women’s 200m and 400m for Great Britain in Sydney (2000). Her suitcase included, running spikes made by her sponsor, hair products, good luck cards from her sister, and coach – Ayo Falola, Bassett’s wine gums which she shared with her teammates (but kept the black and red for herself!), and her ‘must have’ Oakley sunglasses which she says she wouldn’t compete without.
Donna is the current Vice President of UK Athletics and ambassador of Breast Cancer Now.
Mick won the bronze medal in Team Pursuit in the Munich (1972) and Montreal Games (1976). Back in the 70s, competitors had to bring their own equipment so Mick’s items included his own cycle shorts and bicycle tyres, and his favourite bike. He also brought his diary and a teddy bear made by the women he worked with at St Chad’s hospital in Birmingham. Mick packed a beloved photo of his mother, which went with him everywhere.
Mick now lives in Surrey with his wife, Jill, and two children Harry and Felicity. He works as Technical Director with Sweetspot, organising bike races across the world, including the Tour of Britain.
Robin cycled in Team Pursuit for Great Britain at the 1976 Montreal Games. Croker also rode for Australia in 1974 British Commonwealth Games. With him he packed, a small battered green address book, a Sandoz blue-faced wrist watch which he won at 13, a suitcase covered in stickers from his travels, his leather racing shoes, and most importantly his hopes, aspirations, and memories of fantastic team mates.
Robin now lives in Sydney with his wife of 38 years, Melinda, with two their children, Kate and Luke. He works as a full time engineer.