Andrew Steele feels the adversity he's faced since the last Olympics has made him a stronger athlete as he sets his sights on earning a "life changing" spot on the British team this summer.
The 400m runner burst onto the global scene at the Beijing Games in 2008 but an unfortunate combination of illness and injuries since then have prevented him qualifying for another major championships.
A groin injury wiped out his 2009 season and a year later he was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus that caused him to be struck down by glandular fever.
As a result of his energy-sapping condition, Steele struggled to get anywhere near his personal best time of 44.94 seconds, which he set in Beijing, and after another difficult summer in 2011 he subsequently lost his lottery funding.
But Steele's determination and work ethic - along with a switch to a gluten-free diet - has helped him put his Olympic dream back on track and he's confident of achieving the 'A' qualifying standard of 45.30 as well as impressing at next month's trials in Birmingham.
The 27-year-old, who is eyeing one of three individual 400m spots, said: "When I had glandular fever and I was getting out of breath when going to the shops and so on, I was wondering what was going on. I just lost it and my times on the track were just way down.
"But as quickly as my times slowed down, I knew they could come back. I hadn't just lost my ability. I had good people around me like my coach to remind me I ran well at the Olympics not long ago. It doesn't just disappear.
"Even at the height of the illness I still ran reasonably well so that kept my faith at the worst times. I was still within the top eight in the country so that reminded me that when I become healthy then I'll be running very fast again.
"My best time is 44.94 so if I'm anywhere within reaching point of that then I should make the team. In the last couple of years when I was at the height of glandular fever I still ran 45.90 seconds so now I'm healthy it shouldn't be an issue to get the qualifying time.
"There's no issue with confidence in making the team - the big hurdle is the trials in Birmingham next month. They're the first and only goal at the moment - I've just got to run to my best and if I can do that then I will be on the team."
Thinking positively, Steele is relieved he's been able to return to full health just in time for the biggest year of his career and thinks the experience of this long, tiring battle could prove invaluable.
He said: "What great timing that it all happened in between Olympic cycles! It could have happened at the start of 2008 and I wouldn't have the Olympic experience to fall back on.
"I've also been forced to work on the psychology, the diet and other parts of preparation due to the illness and that can only help me in the long term.
"I think if I can make the team after all these difficulties then I'll be in a better to cope with all the pressures than I would if I just arrived at the Olympics through talent alone."
Although the Trafford athlete is desperate to play a part of the spectacle in London, he also believes it will provide him with a springboard for future years.
He said: "Just being part of the Olympic team would be life changing. This isn't just any Olympics. This is the biggest event Britain has ever hosted. When you compete in the Olympics you realise why it exists and why it holds such a strong place in the public's conscience.
"So just to be a part of it would massively help my career and a lot also depends on how well you perform there.
"But also just from a personal point of view to say I was representing Britain at London 2012 would be the most important long-lasting legacy for me.
"I'm 27 now so I can go for a number of years. I'm not looking at this as if it's my last shot, I can go on as long as I'm performing well. In training I'm getting faster and learning new things in my daily life - like eating gluten free - but there's so much more to do. I really think I've got more to give the sport.
"This could be a really good launching pad for another great couple of years in my career to give me a golden period."
Steele has ensured that despite his financial and health setbacks he's left no stone unturned in his preparation as he bids to arrive at the trials in the best possible shape.
Part of this has been to switch to a gluten-free diet after initially fearing his illness was down to Celiac disorder prior to discovering he actually suffered from the Epstein-Barr virus.
Steele, son of TV doctor Chris, said: "I don't eat a lot of carbs as a sprinter but I make sure now the carbs I do eat now are gluten free. It's made me feel a lot better and not as bloated after a starchy meal as I would before.
"It's been very interesting and of course there's been other high-profile tennis players like Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic who have also gone gluten free.
"I've noticed a growing contingent of people in the athletics world dropping gluten from their diet because it's just a healthier way of living.
"When you're talking about such high stakes and tiny margins of error, there always has to be new developments to gain an edge. That's why world records get broken and all sport progresses.
"For me a home Olympics is the biggest excuse ever to be as exhaustive as possible.
"When I turn up on race day I'll be able to say I've been training right, eating right. The confidence levels are a direct result of good preparation. It's the long term gains you get from training and eating right every day."
His minimum requirement for the trials is to earn a spot in the six-man 4x400m relay squad and although the team finished a disappointing seventh at last year's World Championships, he feels they could even challenge for gold in London.
He said: "We've had a number of people, including myself, struggling with injuries over the past few years so if the right four people are fit, then we can do well.
"The time we ran in Beijing when we finished fourth would have won us a silver at any other Olympics so if we can put together the strongest four then we've not only got a chance of a medal, but also the gold.
"The USA won the world championships last year in a time slower than our fourth-place time in Beijing. It would be a big ask and would require all of us to be on the top of our game, but it would be a truly astonishing occasion if we could pull it off."
Gluten-free food producer Genius are sponsoring Steele's quest to make the Olympics and admits their backing has been crucial.
He said: "With my funding cut I was therefore forced to try and find funding from other sources like private companies and sponsors just so my preparation didn't go back a step.
"Every year for the past five years I've gone to Australia to train and I attribute my arrival as a world class athlete to doing this - so having sponsors to help me out has been integral to my hopes.
"If I hadn't done that, then I would be arriving at the Olympic trials thinking I've not done everything I could in the full 100% way I needed to - but this way I have done."