Sam Oldham Olympic rings (getty)Sam Oldham Olympic rings (getty) © Copyright

Living for glory

Team GB Olympic gymnast Sam Oldham, 23, tells us how he preps for all-around success



Two days before a competition, I’ll normally have what’s called a podium training session, where I train in the arena on the actual equipment I will be using on competition day [usually a Saturday]. I go through all my routines and mimic the competition scenario. I’ll limit my warm up, put my hand up and do my routines on each apparatus.



The next day, I’ll start my training in the afternoon. At this point, it’s more about fine-tuning and making sure I feel good on the equipment. In gymnastics, the equipment can vary quite a lot even if it is from the same brand, so I’ll use this session to get comfortable with it. I’ll take two key skills from each of my routines that are most likely to be affected by the equipment, and I’ll practise them over until I feel confident.


I’ll head back to the hotel and, most of the time, I’ll get some physio on whatever needs doing. Right now, it’s my ankle and my shoulders, so I’ll have them loosened up for an hour or so.


After my physio, I’ll head to dinner. I tend to stick to mainly protein at night and carbs earlier in the day. It can change but usually I’ll have chicken and veg, supplements and some CherryActive to help with recovery. 


After dinner, I’ll usually go up to my room and I’ll read or watch TV to keep my mind off gymnastics and the competition as much as possible. I’m a big Game Of Thrones fan, so I’ll usually be watching that. I’ve also started reading the books, so I’ll have a read sometimes.


Before I start getting ready for bed and winding down, I’ll pack my bag and make sure I have my kit for the next day. There are my hand guards for when I’m on the rings, my wrist supports for the pommel horse, my gym shoes for the floor, a towel, and I always bring a spare pair of socks in case I step in someone’s spilt drink. Then I’ll make sure I have an energy drink, some sugary snacks and a protein bar in there, because competitions can be incredibly long and I need to keep my energy up.


I’ll start getting ready for bed and I’ll have a pint of milk before I get to sleep to help with recovery. I’ll put on my compression wear because it increases the blood flow to my muscles and the rate at which oxygen is pumped around my body.


It’s lights out and straight to sleep. I work really well when I have nine hours sleep, so I sometimes use tablets to help me sleep. I avoid caffeine that day so it doesn’t hinder my sleep.



When a competition is in the morning, I’ll have time for a lie in. I like to stick to my normal routine, though, so I’ll set my alarm 20 minutes before I have to get up and doze back off a bit because I don’t like waking up straight away.


The first thing I do when I wake up is brush my teeth and go down to the physio’s room to do a hydration test and check everything is OK. Then I’ll go back up to my room, have a shower, change into my kit for the competition and chill out for about an hour.


Breakfast is usually a slice of brown toast with Manuka honey, granola and a couple of poached eggs all washed down with orange juice.


After breakfast, I’ll go to my room and gather my stuff for the day, then do some mental exercises. I’ll go through my routine on each apparatus in my head, visualising each routine in the arena.


I like to get to the venue a good two hours before the competition starts, so I have time for my hour and a half warm up without having to rush, or in case I need the extra time. While I’m travelling, I listen to music – normally some house and dance – to build me up for the day.


When I arrive, the first thing I do is find our base camp, where I’m going to leave all my stuff, then I’ll probably sit on the floor and read a book or listen to music for 20 minutes before I have to start warming up.


Before I start my warm up, my coach will give me a kind of little speech. It’s usually just things that I might need to do in the warm up, and he’ll tell me to trust myself, wish me luck and shake my hand.