It's been four years. Four years since the last Olympic Games. Four years since I started preparing for this weekend. Four years since I decided I wanted to win. But it's only been the past few weeks that I really figured out what winning was.
An Olympic year changes everything in sport. Training changes, schedules move, priorities shift, and it's all to win. We see the true colours of athletes, federations and organisers in full media glory and it's made me wonder how winning can be reduced to an "all costs" endeavour. Is winning really only about getting a medal no matter what? I've been working for four years to be the first person across the finish line but I've realised my version of winning isn't so short sighted.
Winning isn't really an end goal, it's a beginning. Winning brings a responsibility that only starts after the finish line. You instantly become a role model, a representative of your sport, and given a distinction recognised around the world. Of course there is self-interest involved and personal reward but winning for one is not and could never be as fulfilling as winning for all.
Winning for all means earning a platform and giving a voice, opportunity or inspiration to those listening. It's living by example to show others that sport does have the power to educate, build peace and promote kindness, as the Olympic charter promises us. It's realizing that winning should not be chased in self-interest but granted in service.
I'm in Rio to race for the win. I've never been more physically or mentally prepared for an event and it's because I've realised that winning at all costs isn't worthy of my time but winning for all, that's something that's worthy of all the sacrifices and rewards, the years of training and months of racing, the life lessons and personal growth, the relationships and people I've connected with, the dark moments and the happiest days. That's what winning is worth to me, that's why it comes with so much more than a medal, and that's why if I win it's going to be for all."
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is a world-class athlete who races for the Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team. You can read her blogs on Cyclingnews, and also find them on her website, and follow her on Twitter @Ashleighcycling.