How glamorous the life of a professional athlete must be; imagine the attention, the prestige and the financial rewards that come from representing your country at the most revered sporting event of all.
Mark Dry smiles ruefully, shakes his head and mutters. "If only they knew how far I am into my overdraft . . ."
Simply put, the 24-year-old hammer thrower is skint. The receipt of a £5000 Scottish Institute of Sport award last October came the same week as he lost his job as a delivery driver, forcing the Elgin native to make a choice: commit full-time to training ahead of this summer or try and survive on the four-figure grant and his limited sponsorship. Dry opted for the latter and is on the brink of being rewarded with not only a place in London but also in the European Championships later this month, despite failing to gain UK funding.
However, the bank can only fund his career for so long. So what happens after the Games? "If I can't get funding, I'll have to find a job," he concedes. "It's massively frustrating because if you want results, you have to train full-time, but to do that you need the support and I just don't have it right now."
Until recently, such a state of affairs had convinced Dry that he would have to divorce himself from the sport entirely after this summer. A talented rugby player, he planned to investigate turning professional in an attempt to earn a wage, but a recent spurt of improvement – aligned with the Commonwealth Games coming to Glasgow in 2014 and the World Championship to London three years later – has convinced him that he can develop into a world-class performer.
The catalyst has been the decision to move to Loughborough in 2009. Having come to the end of his contract as a storeman at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, let the lease on his flat expire and split up with his girlfriend, the time seemed right. However, parting with his coach, Chris Black, was less straightforward. "I was distraught," Dry recalls. "I went straight to his house and waited outside for four hours until he got home from work so I could tell him. Even though he has a reputation for being scary, he was like a father to me, so it was really upsetting just sitting there knowing I needed to give him the news."
The flurry of criticism that followed – much of it rooted in the laughable perception of Dry as an Anglo-Scot, despite him having moved to Moray as a five-year-old – was upsetting but the opportunity to work with renowned Canadian coach Derek Evely and the superior facilities to which he would have access vindicated the move. Gone were the days of training on a narrow strip of concrete at the back of Edinburgh Airport.
"Thinking back it was not only stupid, but dangerous, too," Dry says. "Chris would be standing four feet away from me with a camera as I threw hammers into a field of thigh-high grass without a cage. We had to tie plastic bags to the handle so we had more chance of finding them but more often than not we'd lose them for days."
Coming from a family of pilots, Dry is no stranger to airports and, indeed, had it not been for his father's persistence in persuading his "really shy, fat kid" to join the air cadets, Scotland would have missed out on an athletic talent. Thrust into an annual inter-squadron competition, Dry refused to do anything involving running or jumping but won the javelin despite never having thrown before and was put in touch with his local club, where he was soon introduced to the hammer.
Within a month, he had won the Scottish Under-17 Championships. "The standard was low, but I hadn't really done anything in my life so to be national champion and get a medal and a little mention in the paper was a big deal to me and I got hooked on that wee taste of success," says Dry, whose stint in the cadets earned him recognition as a flying and weapons instructor.
His progress has taken him to a current ranking of 40th in the world and within touching distance of a place at the Olympics. While the A standard of 78m – one metre further than the British record – is beyond reach for the time being, Dry has thrown the B mark in three separate competitions to ensure his eligibility, while nearest rival Alex Smith has yet to do so even once.
That, of course, could all change ahead of the trials on June 24 but the Scot has every right to be confident. "I'm nervous and excited because London is everything I've dreamed about since it was announced," he says of the first step in a route that will hopefully end with a medal in Rio in 2016. "Every session I've done in the rain, every time I've had a nosebleed lifting weights, every time something has gone wrong will have come together to allow me to get to there and I wouldn't swap it for all the money in the world."