Global F.I.T. Athlete Barbara Filiou will be representing Greece at the Olympic Games in Rio this year. She tells us what this experience has in store for her.

To achieve my goal of qualifying to the Olympic Games, I had to move to the Olympic Training Center of Russia, far away from my family and the people I love! For the past 2 years leading up to the 2015 World Championships, the qualifying event for the 2016 Olympic Games, I have been living and training in Russia, only going home to Athens in Greece for Christmas and the Greek National Championships. Russia has been the leading country in the sport of rhythmic gymnastics for many years, which is why I ultimately decided to moved there. The Olympic Training Center in Novogorsk is home to not only the best rhythmic gymnasts in the world, but also the best and most experienced coaches, top choreographers, and a world-class training facility specifically designed for the needs of rhythmic gymnasts. Moving to Russia has given me the opportunity to learn from the best, train amongst the best and to be in the best training facility in the world.

Rhythmic gymnastics is a tough sport and it requires many hours of very difficult daily training. I dedicated most of my time to the training, up to 8 hours per day, so as to achieve the best results. This preparation included not only work on my rhythmic gymnastics programs, but ballet training, strength and conditioning, cardio workouts and massage. In addition to the physical preparation in the Olympic Training Center, I competed in 15 to 20 competitions annually, so as to be prepared both physically and psychologically. For all athletes, being prepared mentally is just as important as being prepared physically, which is why my plan before big tournaments includes many smaller ones.

This year leading up to the Olympic Games will be a difficult one, but also one that I am looking forward to, as I strive to be better than I have ever been before. It is important that I am in perfect physical shape and in good health in order to compete at my best. Rhythmic gymnastics is an artistic sport which demands detailed choreography and synchronizing movement and harmony to music. Because of this, I need to improve and perfect every movement and every detail in each of my four programs. This will require many additional hours of hard training, a good psychological state, and taking care of my diet to ensure that my weight is stable. As far as this is concerned, Aloe Vera products are very important and will help offer the support, strength and replenishment I need when my body is exhausted from training. As I work toward my goals for the Olympic Games in Rio, I will continue my training at the Olympic Training Center in Novogorsk, Russia. This will allow me to continue to train under the best circumstances. I will also participate in many competitions which I should prepare. The schedule includes lots of travel abroad, including Grand Prix events, World Cups, the Greek National Championships and European Championships. I want to achieve the best possible results in the World Cups, which are the important events leading up to Rio, but in 2016, the most important tournament for me will be the European Championships which will take place in Holon, Israel. My goal is to be in the top 6 at this event. And finally, as I travel to Brazil in August, I aim to achieve my biggest goal, to be one of the top 12 finalists in the 2016 Olympic Games!

Barbara Filiou, Global F.I.T. Athlete