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BEIJING 2008Bronze: Single ScullsLONDON 2012Gold: Single ScullsINTERVIEW: MICHAEL STONEMANMY GAMES MAHÉ DRYSDALENEW ZEALAND'S FIVE-TIME WORLD CHAMPION MAHÉ DRYSDALE SUFFERED OLYMPIC HEARTBREAK IN 2004 AND 2008, BUT WAS FINALLY REWARDED WITH OLYMPIC GOLD IN LONDON IN 2012My goal had always been to make it to the Olympic Games. When I was selected for Athens in 2004 it was a really awesome feeling. I was so excited. You hear stories and watch it on the TV and you want to be a part of it. When I got there I was a bit overwhelmed; it blew me away how good it was. Even something like the dining hall just made me go "Wow!" I was in the coxless four and I really enjoyed the experience, but we didn't perform to the level I wanted to. I decided after the Games to switch to the single sculls. It was a big risk, but thankfully it worked out and I won the World Championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Going in to Beijing in 2008 was a completely different experience after that. The media interest and the support for me from home were so much bigger than they had been in Athens.I quite enjoy that sort of pressure and generally it makes me perform better, but unfortunately I picked up a stomach illness during the Games. There were a lot of mixed emotions at that time. I was asking "Why me? Why now?" I'm very proud that I still managed to finish third when I wasn't 100 per cent, but there are no excuses. I performed as best as I could and it really gave me an appreciation of what it takes to be an Olympic champion.Coming into London, I was feeling pretty relaxed. The support and the atmosphere were great; in the heats, it almost unsettled me because the crowds were so big and the noise was more like an Olympic final. Everything was going well for me until two days before the final, when suddenly the nerves hit me. I realised that this was my third Games and I had to make the most of it. In the final, Ondrej Synek and myself had put a bit of distance between us and the field. I know how strong he is in the finish, so I was trying to get away but he wouldn't let me. I had a few doubts whether I could hold on and in the last 250m I had nothing left. Crossing that line first was amazing: I'd been trying to achieve my dream for 12 years and I'd finally done it. When I finally got that gold medal, I just couldn't stop smiling. ?74 OLYMPIC REVIEW MY GAMESRight Drysdale celebrates victory in the single sculls final at Eton Dorney