Monday, 29 August 2016

Rio Olympics

I was excited for the Olympics to start of course, but I didn’t realise how hooked I would get. For two solid weeks my life revolved around the games. I’m already motivated when it comes to achieving in sport, I bleat on about it regularly enough on here. However, watching the Olympics inspired me further, encouraged me to run faster, aim higher and become stronger. I was in total awe of every single athlete competing on the greatest stage of all. So much so every time someone won a medal or just missed out, it caused me to well up. Even now when I watch the highlights, I can’t stop the eyes from filling. I’m not sure if it is old age or simple recognition and appreciation of the hard work every athlete puts in. They all spoke of the sacrifices they had made and it’s so true. As an athlete you feel you are constantly saying no to things because you need to train or compete or rest before training or competing.

Prior and during the games Rio received a lot of negative press to put it mildly. Many people argued that they shouldn’t have been awarded the games at all. Personally, I think this is unfair. They were very much a developing country when they were awarded the Olympics and it really shouldn’t be an event that only the rich are allowed to host. The Olympics is a place where all countries come together. This shouldn’t be in a magical land where no bad happens. Having the Olympics in Rio gave the games a touch of realism that I liked. Ok so the venues were half empty, but the organisers shouldn’t have made ticket prices so high. The Rio public came out in their thousands to watch the free events, such as the marathon. They are like Britain, a nation that loves sport and in my opinion deserved to host the games.

Britain had a great games winning more medals than ever before. This meant I ended up watching more sports than ever before and really enjoyed doing so. In particular the gymnastics and diving had me gripped. Ultimately, the athletics was the best of the rest though. It was a shame it was on so late meaning I recorded it each night, avoided the news and social media in the morning in order to gain the full experience. The athletics did not disappoint. Although I never expected to enjoy the men’s 400m final more than the men’s 100m final, which were on the same night. This year I didn’t doubt BBolt’s ability and superiority to the others. I knew the men’s 400m would be impressive, but seriously didn’t predict anyone breaking Michael Johnson’s World Record. That takes some class or at least a very fast South African called Wayde Van Niekerk. I was pleased that our Super Saturday stars from London 2012 were able to medal again, a feat that was by no means easy or a given.

Now it isn’t long before the Paralympics begin. Naturally, I will be watching.

Friday, 19 August 2016

TPT Guest Blog

Recently, I was asked to guest blog for Thomas Pocklington Trust. I wrote about how athletics has helped me deal with my sight loss in the hope that it encourages other visually impaired people to get involved in sport. You can read my post by clicking here.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Feeling Great at 28

At the moment I’m fairly satisfied with life. I had a great birthday. The day before I went to see an audio described performance of Mamma Mia at the Birmingham Hippodrome with some friends. Then the day of my birthday, I had lunch with my family and raced in the evening where I finally broke my 100m PB after three long years. I knew the PB would definitely be broken this year as I’m running better than ever, but it was good to get that monkey off my back. MyPB from 2013 was 13.93 and twice this year I got agonisingly close to it clocking 13.96 both times. Then on my birthday I managed to drop it down to 13.61, which was a time I knew I had in me and was so pleased to actually produce it. To prove it wasn’t a one off, last Saturday I ran 13.52 but the time is illegal, as the wind was just over the allowed limit. Nevertheless, with a few races left of the season, I hope to continue running mid 13s if not even better.

A few days after my birthday I was given the opportunity to represent Great Britain for the first time at the London Anniversary Games over 200m. It would only be my second 200m in four years and it is an event that I do zero training for. However, I couldn’t give up the chance to race in the Olympic Stadium in front of a crowd around fifty thousand people. With it not being my primary event, I was able to really enjoy the experience as I didn’t have any pressure. I have to admit the second 100m of the race felt like hell. The lactic really kicked in and I was seriously hurting. My previous 200m PB was 30.54 which I ran a couple of weeks before. I knew I would run faster than that and was happy with 28.91. In my head I really wanted to run twenty-eight something. To put my 13.61 and 28.91 into perspective, they would have got me 4th at the Europeans in June. Things are heading in the right direction, but I know they are just the beginning. I need to keep progressing and not wait another three years to break my PBs again.

I also have a new job, which I hope will be more successful than the one I had last year. It is a zero hour contract, but that works for me. I only want to work a couple of days per month so it doesn’t disrupt the athletics training yet gives me a boost to my income. I will be working as an Expert by Experience. Basically the job entails helping inspectors with their inspections of health and social care provisions. I have enjoyed the training and look forward to starting properly later this month.

On my last birthday I remember feeling a bit lost with life. This year I’m feeling more positive. I’m lucky to have a small number of close friends both sighted and visually impaired. I’m grateful to have found a job that will compliment my athletics career. I’m confident that my hard work is paying off and I’m going to reach my athletics goals. I’m privileged to have a supportive network around me. Ok so I’m not getting married or having babies anytime soon, but I’m living life and loving it.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A Big Thank You

I’m pleased to report that my crowd funding campaign was a success. There was a period where I was convinced that I wouldn’t reach my £500 target then the next thing I knew it had not only been met, but smashed. I now have enough funds for approximately a year’s worth of sports massage/physio, which is going to be a massive help. It relieves me from a financial strain and will definitely have a positive impact upon my performance as an athlete and enable me to train and race at my best.

I’m so incredibly grateful for the generous donations and hope to do everyone proud in the future. A big thank you goes to-

Pam Banks
Matthew Clark
Eugene Creighton-Griffiths
Azam and Barbara Dassut
Emma Gaskin
Julie Grafton-Reed
Cheryl Gupta
Charlotte Fisher
Christine Huber
Thomas Norton
Sally Nutt
David Playfoot
Michael Thornton
John Turner
Julie Watson
Bridgid Weaver
Warren Wilson
People for Research

And a special thanks to VICTA Children and VISTA for promoting my project.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Be Part of the Journey

I have started my first crowd funding campaign in order to raise £500 to help pay for physio/sports massage costs. A part of me feels a bit cheeky asking for people to help support my athletics career, but I feel £500 isn’t too much of a ridiculous amount. Anyone who reads this blog knows how much athletics means to me and how I constantly strive to achieve my dreams. In an ideal world I wouldn’t have to seek support, but since I have to self-fund my athletics career there is no other way around it. Working part-time last year severely affected my health and I would turn up to training like a zombie. Focusing purely on my athletics this year has already enabled me to run better than I have ever done before. On Wednesday I dipped under fourteen seconds for the first time on a first run in far from pleasant conditions.

On Tuesday I watched my rivals compete at the European Championships and it filled me with motivation. There’s nothing I want more than to line up against them in two years time and fight for a medal. Based on my current form, I would have just missed out on the final by a tenth of a second (remembering the top four make the final in T11 events). Although it could be argued if I was in thirty degree heat on a mondo track, I could have challenged for a place. I’m so close yet so far from representing GB.

There are twenty-six days remaining on my crowd funding page and to date I have raised a respectable £280, which I’m extremely grateful for. However, if I don’t hit the £500 target in the time zone, I will receive absolutely nothing. There are some rewards on offer if you do donate. If you are feeling generous or know someone who is generous and would like to be part of helping a girl not only fulfil her dreams, but her potential, then check out my page here.

Athletics is my life. For me it makes being blind feel bearable, enjoyable and inconsequential.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Web Accessibility Campaign

A while back I was asked to guest blog for People for Research and their web accessibility campaign. They have now published my post. To read it just click here.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Gold Coast 2018

The Gold Coast will hold the next Commonwealth Games in 2018. Yesterday I was saddened to learn that there will be no Women’s T11/12 100m this time and in fact no female visually impaired athletics events at all. The Games boast that they will have more para-events than ever before with some classifications having an increased number of events they can participate in, which is great news for them. However, other classifications have been excluded altogether. Only a select number of para-events are included in the main competition and I guess in one respect I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to compete at the last Commonwealths in Glasgow. Nevertheless, on the eve of my 2016 outdoor season, I can’t help feeling disappointed. The Commonwealths was an amazing experience and one that I would have liked to have repeated. Not only for the enjoyment, but to see if I could have improved on my previous performance.

Looking ahead now, my focus has to be on the European Championships. Perhaps not for this year as selection is on Monday 16 May, which is very soon and leaves little opportunity for me to qualify. The next Europeans will be in 2018. I need to have two strong seasons prior to the championships to prove my capability. I have had the chance to represent England, but I have always dreamed of representing Great Britain too.

So far this year I have had a couple of promising run outs over 60m indoors. Tomorrow will be the earliest I have ever started my outdoor season. This provides plenty of races to look forward to between now and August. The main aim this year is to PB since I haven’t managed to do so since 2013. I have had a full winter, receiving regular treatment and I am feeling positive that this year will be one of progression.