Sprinting’s self-styled Superman is intent on maintaining a smile throughout his second Olympic Games next month.
Carshalton’s Harry Aikines-Aryeetey will travel to Rio as part of a nine-strong 4x100m squad, and on a high after his Team GB colleagues won gold at last week’s European Championships.
The Sutton and District runner went to Beijing eight years ago as a relay reserve but missed out on London 2012 after injuring a hamstring in the pre-Olympic European Championships.
Now, though, fit and ready to go, he is determined to make the most of another shot at the big time.
“It’s awesome to be going to another Games, it’s one of those things you dream about — it’s unreal,” said the 27-year-old.
“This year I just want to have a smile on my face, more than anything. In 40 years time what am I going to say? ‘I walked round with a serious face just because I wanted to do so well’?
“You can still do well while enjoying the moment, that’s the plan and it will make it so much more special.
“We live in a world where nothing is certain and up until the moment you’re there, you still can’t believe it.
“I was 19 at my first Games and I don’t think I truly appreciated what was going on, I just need to live in the moment and enjoy every second that comes.”
Aikines-Aryeetey won individual European 100m bronze in 2014 and helped the relay squad to gold at the same event, five years after winning a first senior medal at the 2009 World Championships.
He was not part of the quartet that won European gold last weekend though and knows he faces a fight to make the final four in Rio.
“It’s going to be so hard, but at the same time, that’s what you want,” he added.
“You don’t want it to be easy, it makes it that much more enjoyable when you succeed, and allows us to make a stride forward.
“Anything can happen, it’s about supporting each other and as long as well get a medal, that’s the most important thing.”
Aikines-Aryeetey first came to prominence after winning World Junior gold in 2006, and continued that success in his university sprinting career.
More than 60 per cent of British gold medallists since 1992 have participated in BUCS sport, with 56 members of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics competing for Great Britain at the World University Games.
The Loughborough University graduate competed at the BUCS championships in 2012, in the Olympic Stadium, and said the experience will stay with him forever.
“To run there before the Games was pretty awesome,” said the 2012 BUCS champion.
“I took it in as much as I could, it was pretty cold, but it was a fantastic experience.
“You can never take BUCS for granted, it’s a great competition.
“Once you’ve done BUCS then the process for other, bigger, international events does not change.
“There’s more glamour and it becomes more important, but the process is still the same.”
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, representing more than 150 institutions. Covering 52 sports, BUCS aids grass roots participation through to supporting aspiring elite athletes en route to Commonwealth or Olympic Games www.bucs.org.uk