Back in March, as part of my charity challenge, I drove for eight hours and the best part of four hundred miles to spend no more than a quarter of an hour in the company of five outstanding athletes, who had been part of the Great Britain women's hockey squad that won a bronze medal at London 2012.
The team's path to the medal podium was filled with all the drama and emotion that makes sport so compelling (and notice how I cleverly avoided using the word "rollercoaster"...) and their collective achievement was one of my absolute highlights of the Games.
For the record, Katherine Grainger's rowing gold, alongside Anna Watkins, was my number one moment...
I've written before that it was both a pleasure and a privilege to meet these five young women who excel in their chosen sport - Kate Richardson-Walsh, Alex Danson, Hannah Macleod, Nicola White and Emily Maguire - and I was so grateful that they were willing to spend a few minutes with someone who they had never met before.
It will have escaped the attention of many sports fans that football's imminent descent on Brazil is not the only major World Cup being held this summer. The hockey equivalent is currently taking place at The Hague in Holland, with the English women being seeded third in the tournament.
Unfortunately, the group stages have started with two desperately disappointing defeats - to the USA and China - and it is already looking unlikely that the team will progress through to the latter stages of the competition, especially as games against current champions Argentina and a very strong German squad are still to come.
I cannot imagine what it must be like to be an elite athlete... or any sort of athlete if my Great North Run times are anything to go by! Nor can I fully appreciate the dedication and determination it takes to make the step from simply being an outstanding individual talent, to a vital member of an international team in any sport.
I thoroughly enjoyed my twenty-five years as a club cricketer, and notwithstanding my average ability, I still wanted - and tried - to be the best I could be, and if I spent a week at work, only for the team to play poorly and/or lose on a Saturday, I was more than capable of a good sulk!
But when your job and chosen sport are essentially the same thing, the pain of defeat must hit so much harder. That said, what you hope (as a supporter) and expect (as a player) to get from an international team is a reaction. Ability is a given, as is physical fitness, but mental strength is possibly the attribute that separates the very good from the very best.
I've listened to Kate Richardson-Walsh being interviewed a number of times: she is clearly a proud and inspirational leader. The next three games - starting with South Africa tomorrow - will be a massive test of character for Kate and her team. Obviously the squad entered the tournament with a hope, probably even an expectation that they would do well. But it is the very essence of team sport that you have opponents with every bit as much desire, trying to make sure you don't succeed.
I watched every available minute of the girls' Olympic campaign, and I have watched the opening two World Cup games in full as well. Nothing has changed my admiration of each member of the squad as elite athletes and although Kate, Alex, Hannah and Nicola will have long forgotten meeting me, I will be tuning in tomorrow, to cheer on the Leicester and Reading quartet and the rest of the team, and fully expecting that this squad has the ability, pride and strength of character to produce their best when it really matters.
Come on England!
The "all new" blog - click on the Archive tab for all the old stuff.