MARK MY WORDS – THE SUMMER OF ELITE ATHLETES

Mark my words is the second of our new player blogs, Mark Lambert joins Topsy Ojo in sharing some of his thoughts on all things rugby and sport.

2012 is the British year of sport. National fervour is rising for the Olympics, both Murray and Marray gave us a taste of glory at Wimbledon, and there is every danger that messrs Wiggins and Froome will provide us with a one-two at the Tour de France on Sunday.At Harlequins we are proud to say that we have played our own part in the sporting calendar thus far thanks to a lovely little day back in May, but spring has turned to summer (apparently), and that means only one thing for a rugby player- horrible, sweaty, painful pre-season.When you are young, pre-season is a time of excitement, a period to get bigger, fitter and stronger, train hard and make an impression on the coaches. When you get older the aspiration stays the same but the mindset changes; what you used to see as a land of opportunity becomes an uphill tunnel with the first game of the season the considerable light at the end of it. You put your shoulder to the wheel, get your head down and graft.As ever, the squad is separated into different groups: normally something along the lines of general strength, speed and power. The last group is always known as the “fat boys club”, although officially this year we have been kindly named fitness group. Anyone who has ever played in the front five will have spent some time in this purgatory, convincing oneself that you are getting the leg up on everyone else by working that much harder than them as you get flogged day in and day out. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that we (I am a member this year, and most others) are the cart horses, and we need to get used to it from June.This year the “elite” band of brothers consists of myself and three other props, who shall remain nameless to protect their identity. We have named ourselves “team rig”, rig suggesting we all have the bodies of Greek Gods……..We may be in fitness group, but by God we have a cutting sense of humour.Unity is important to get through the tough sessions, and we will all defend each other from the jibes of our slender team mates. And when it comes to hard work, you do whatever you need to do to get it finished, knowing that the calorific-ally challenged man next to you is doing the same.This year of sporting greatness is helping me out actually; I may be a million miles away from the Olympic podium at the moment, but in my mind I am chasing Chris Hoy or Mo Farah every day for glory. As I say, anything you need to do to get it done, including delusion. I might tell the rest of “team rig” and we can make it a group effort. Next stop Olympic road race and the Brownlee brothers in the triathlon!www.twitter.com/marklambert3