At 738 metres above the level where the waters of the Atlantic splash gently on to Copacabana Beach, the statue of Christ The Redeemer seems to float above the clouds which occasionally shower on Rio – a totemic attraction that will be among the must-visits for all those venturing west for next summer’s Olympics.
The climb is arduous and daunting. Not unlike the quest to qualify for the Games themselves, Grace Reid admits.
The 19-year-old diver is currently leaping from long-tested springboards into familiar waters as she trains towards this weekend’s Scottish Championships at Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Pool.
Once 2016 starts, however, she will bid to thwart her rivals while ignoring the inevitable strains that come with chasing an ultimate dream.
“I’ve worked a lot with my sports psychologist to deal with everything,” said the one-time prodigy. “His big advice has been: ‘Don’t let it consume you’. Because, he says, every little thing can be built up to be this monumental thing. Yes, an Olympics is amazing. It is a big milestone. But, if you make it into an insurmountable mountain, you’re just going to trip yourself up and end up disappointed.”
The ascent comes step by step, the 6am training sessions, shifts in the gym and weightroom, all designed to scale the peaks.
Reid, the baby of Scotland’s team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, has become desensitised to a routine that seems extraordinary to landlocked mortals.
Yet starting a degree in Sports Science at Edinburgh University has sent her young life on a fresh tangent.
“I’m a bit more independent,” she added. “There’s a different kind of set-up so far but that’s been such a nice change and I’ve enjoyed it.”
In tandem with her studies, there are new routines to master and small margins to gain. From her home pool and an event now to be sponsored by Edinburgh Airport, it will be onward to a national championships in the New Year that will determine who gets to sample Rio at February’s test event.
Beyond that, and everything will geared towards June’s Olympic trials in Sheffield. No pressure. “It’s good to be that close,” Reid confirms. “But it’s why I’ve been doing so much hard training over the winter period, to have that possibility to get a place in the team. You know you need to be motivated to be in the two places available.”