Rio Olympics pressure got to me and I'm no certainty for Tokyo Games

In her final exclusive column for ESPN, Australian Olympian Emily Seebohm opens up about her experiences at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

It's now more than a month after the finish of the Rio Olympics and I've had time to reflect on my efforts in what was a bitter-sweet experience. I was obviously upset about how I performed; I definitely trained and competed a lot better before the Games. I gave it my all and I guess I can't be too disappointed with myself, but it was tough not achieving my goals.

If I'm being honest, I think the pressure did get to me.

In the 100m backstroke final, I wanted it so badly and I put so much pressure on myself to take home gold. I just tried too hard. I overdid the race, whereas when I swim at my best, I'm confident and in control.

Tactically, I put in too much effort too soon. When I race at my best, I go out easier and come home stronger so tactically, it wasn't what I would have liked. I thought I had to do more than what I probably needed to do at the time. In lane 1, I didn't know where the pack was. It was so hard and I wanted it so badly, and I sacrificed not sticking to my race plan because I wanted it so much.

Pressure is a funny thing. Being my third Olympics, I thought the pressure wouldn't be so bad this time around. But it just goes to show that it doesn't matter how much experience you have; once you get there, it's almost an even playing field, everyone can win.

Thinking about my Olympics experience, it's made me realise that athletes, myself included, probably don't train their mental skills hard enough compared to physical training.

When I was younger, it was all about just training hard -- that's all you needed to worry about -- but now that I'm older, it's not just that. I think it's where I can improve the most. Every time I swim, I wonder about what I can improve on and I'm at the point where I don't know what else I can do, because I train so hard and always give 100 percent.

So where do I go to now? I think it's reasonable to suggest that it's not always about who trains the hardest physically; it's more about who's got the mental strength to do it.

I know there was a lot of talking about the Australian team under-performing, but I think that's unfair. Our main goal was to improve from London and the whole Australian team was super proud of what we achieved, because we beat what we did in London. I was so proud to be on the team; a few didn't quiet achieve the results they were after but we all put in our best and I know I was able to enjoy the moment over there.

I definitely felt like I had a bad meet, but I still got hugs from everyone and it was really special, and I thoroughly enjoyed the team, probably more than I have for the past few years. Our team spirit was great; we'd worked hard on bonding together since London. We're all so competitive that it's hard to be too friendly with everyone but it was fantastic to get away together and cheer each other on.

So where to now?

I've got plenty on to keep me busy and focused in the short-term, but I'm not 100 percent sure that I'll get to the Tokyo Games in 2020. I'm committed for the next two years but from there I'll see how I feel and how my body is feeling.

If I swam at Tokyo, that'd be 12 years in the sport; I'm not sure I'd be able to commit for another four just yet.

Rio was an amazing place, but as an athlete, I didn't get to enjoy the city and its attractions as much as a tourist is able to. But, I watched a lot of sports when I got some spare time: equestrian, basketball, athletics; it was fantastic to watch those sports, but the village was so far away that some places were really difficult to get to. But I did tick off a few 'bucket list' items such as Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer, which were amazing. I'll have to get back to Rio one day without the pressure of competing and experience the rest of what the city has to offer!