Hanworth-based triathlete Michelle Dillon has had an Olympic experience she will never forget - for all the wrong reasons, writes Dale Harry.

After achieving a heroic sixth place finish, she was forced to get an early flight back to the UK on learning that her home had been burgled.

The news came after a week of see-sawing emotions that saw Dillon fight off illegal conduct from other competitors who she feels deliberately impeded her progress by grabbing at her feet and swimsuit zipper, costing vital time in the first stage of the event.

On learning from sister Natasha that one of her competition bikes and other equipment had been stolen, Dillon was then struck another devastating blow when her video camera, which included footage taken at the Games, was snatched from a van she had been travelling in. The British number one, who entered the Olympics on the back of a World Cup victory in July, explained: "Natasha flew to Athens before my competition started but decided not to tell me about the burglary until a day after as she didn't want it to affect my performance. Finding out about the camera on the same day compounded things.

"I was emotionally and physically drained from the race. The robberies really hit me."

Flying home early, Dillon missed the closing ceremony and returned to find that not only had her bikes and equipment been stolen, a box of GB tracksuits and other memorabilia gathered over her career, which began at the Commonwealth games of 1994 running in the 10,000 metres and the last Olympics, were also missing.

"Those things I can never replace and it's most upsetting."

The 31-year-old who trains in Bushy Park and cycles with Twickenham Bike Club, overcame a difficult 1.5km swim to claw her way back to seventh finisher in the 40km bike ride, before recording the third fastest time in the 10km run.

"With all that has happened it's only just beginning to sink in how well I did out there. I gave it my best. My time of 2hrs 6m was a minute and 17 seconds short of gold winner Allen Kate," added Dillon, the highest British finisher.

"Being in the camp, around all those athletes, and learning from their experiences in sport is inspiring and I would love to be a part of that again.

"I feel that I haven't fulfilled my potential yet and will be focused on working towards the next Commonwealth Games and Olympics."