Wednesday, 28 December 2011

IPC European Championships

The IPC European Championships are being held in the Netherlands in June 2012. It will be the final major competition before the London 2012 Paralympics. The championships were only announced in October, as it appears that finding host countries for disability events is difficult. The championships should take place every two years matching the mainstream version, but a host couldn’t be found for 2010.

The qualification standards were released in November and I was excited to find that I had achieved all of them:

T11 100m 15.08secs
T11 200m 33.01secs
F11 Long Jump 3.05m

However, this doesn’t automatically mean I get to go. Just before Christmas UK Athletics released their Selection Policy for the games. There were a few striking features of the policy since the games are so close to the Paralympics. They will only be taking a team of twenty athletes, no wheelchair athletes and athletes who competed at January’s IPC World Championships will have to justify why they want to go, as the Paralympics should be their main priority. This all looked very promising for me, yet when reading further down the policy it became evident that the qualification standards wanted by UKA had dramatically changed. To be selected, UKA want athletes to have scored at least 750 RAZA points by 23 April 2012. Meaning:

T11 100m 14.17secs
T11 200m 28.99secs

For the 100m at least they are asking me to run at least a second faster and in any case, quicker than the A Standard for the Paralympics, as the A Standard is 14.25secs.

So where does this leave me? Well wanting, as per usual I guess. The outdoor athletics season doesn’t kick off until April, so achieving the Standards in such a short space of time is a tall order. However, it’s not in my nature to walk away without a fight. So, I’m considering doing a couple of indoor competitions in February or March, and then come the outdoor season, I should be more race ready. It’s still a long shot, but if I can prove to UKA that I’m progressing, maybe they will take me anyway. I’m ranked highly in Europe and honestly feel I could win a medal. It would be gutting to watch athletes slower than me competing in an international competition.

A wish is a dream and a dream is just a wish...

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Funding News

Who knew that the media could be so powerful?! From one piece in the local paper and a brief radio interview, I’ve had an over-whelming response from people wanting to aid my Paralympic dream. At a time where all you hear about is cut backs, I’m pleasantly surprised at the public’s generosity.

A couple of week’s ago, I did the assembly at Danemill Primary School, before they were set to dress up as their favourite sporting star, all in aid of me. I couldn’t believe how nervous I got, as all of the little people trickled into the main hall. I spoke at a hundred miles per hour, kept losing my train of thought and was distracted by Calvin wandering around my legs, so have no idea if the kids understood anything! It was enjoyable in a strange way though, the funniest question was ‘how do you eat and stuff?’ and the sweetest comment was ‘everyone finds Calvin interesting, but I find you more interesting’!

A big big thank you to Danemill for all of their efforts and I also need to thank:
Chris Alloway at GBF
Jim Bingham
Pat Kitchen
Peter Barratt
The Dudhia family
Cosby TOC H
Klick Fitness

I honestly appreciate all of the support and can promise that the funds will help incredibly towards my various costs. Unbelievably, I actually have a couple of other funding opportunities lined up to.

Thanks again!

Monday, 28 November 2011

F1 2011 Review

The 2011 F1 season came to a close yesterday in Brazil and as usual it was a fascinating and nail biting year. It was quite a surprise that the unlikely World Champion of 2010, Sebastian Vettel totally dominated the sport from start to finish. He was crowned the 2011 World Champion with four races to spare and just seemed invincible, much to the frustration of the other drivers. Nevertheless, he is a worthy winner; I just wish he drove for Ferrari and not Red Bull!

My team, Ferrari had a mixed year, finishing third in the championship overall. I was absolutely gutted that I wasn’t at the Silverstone grand prix this year to witness Fernando Alonso winning the race, that would have been really special. People say Alonso outperformed the car this year, but I can’t help think that Massa underperformed this year, as he never made the podium. This was partly due to some bad luck, as a certain British driver, Lewis Hamilton came together with Filipe no less than five times in the season. Each and every time being Hamilton’s fault of course, I have never been able to warm to that reckless driver!

Out of the British boys, Jensen Button, Lewis Hamilton and rookie Paul Di Resta, I feel that Button was the best. He finished second in the championship; often charging through the pack in races and making his tyres last longer than they should. It’s taken Button an awful long time to become one of the top drivers and demonstrates that persistency is key to success. Di Resta had quite a strong opening season, scoring twenty seven points in total and it will be interesting to watch what he can do in the future.

A driver that has been committed to motor racing for no less than nineteen years and was once a Ferrari man is Brazilian Rubens Barrichello. In recent times he’s been driving for Williams, but his home grand prix may have been his last, as he doesn’t have a seat for next year. Whilst I agree to an extent that it’s great to watch new talent develop, I think someone who is so passionate and dedicated to F1, as much as Barrichello should at least get one more year in the sport to make it a round figure of twenty years. It’s a little unsettling to hear that some drivers buy their way into teams, providing essential funding for them, yet they are not necessarily the most talented driver. What can I say though; money makes the world go round.

I’m very excited for 2012 and what the F1 season will bring. Surely Vettel’s reign can’t continue or will he become the youngest triple World Champion? I’m very much hoping that Alonso will be the next triple World Champion and here’s hoping Massa can rediscover his winning ways.

That’s what I’m talking about! (Vettel, 2011)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


I can’t say the last two years with Calvin have flown by, as I honestly feel like I’ve had him forever. It’s difficult to remember life without him. What on earth did my mornings used to be like? I have no idea! I don’t and can’t lie that Calvin is the world’s best Guide Dog, as he isn’t. I often wonder whether this is my fault, if I’m too soft with him, but I’m not. I find I’m constantly doing everything in my power to make him a better dog.

One of Calvin’s biggest problems has been his continuous desire to scavenge. This is something I just can’t correct. He wears a halty, which makes it slightly easier to correct him and pull him away from things, but he was immune to the spray collar and because I can’t see, he’s already picked up something before I know it. I have never given Calvin food off of my plate at home and don’t allow others to either and I always prevent him from clearing up crumbs in the kitchen. However, this doesn’t stop him when out and about, yet I get the feeling from Guide Dogs that somehow I am contributing to it. One of my friend’s Guide Dog’s gets very sick every time she eats something she shouldn’t, but because Calvin can stomach so much crap, the problem hasn’t been addressed more seriously in my opinion.

I sometimes tell myself that I don’t work or challenge Calvin enough and this is why he isn’t brilliant. I think it is important to teach your dog new routes, although I understand this isn’t always practical or easy. However, since I’ve had my sat nav and because I’ve lived in my local area all of my life, I can work out slightly different routes to take to go where I’m going or get home again. I hope this is more stimulating for Calvin. With regards to working him more, I don’t think Calvin is a city boy. He’s a fearless dog and has no trouble coping in crowds, but the amount of focus he needs wipes him out. When we go away with friends, I can tell that he is drained from the high work load.

Calvin often doesn’t get much credit from myself or others that meet him. People regularly tell me that he shouldn’t be a Guide Dog, which I laugh off and in fact find quite offensive. Ok so he’s a handful and I want to murder him much of the time when out, but at the end of the day, we get to places, he generally doesn’t walk me into things and he’s extremely good natured. Calvin has a very demanding job guiding someone who has no useful vision whatsoever. Most of my friends with Guide Dogs have not much, but at least some useful vision and I can always tell what a benefit that is. Just to see roughly where a doorway is or a set of steps are assists the dog, as you can cue them in more accurately and have an idea if they are going off course. I rely on Calvin 110%, especially in unfamiliar places. Calvin is a super intelligent dog like most Labradors and retrievers, it’s just a shame that he uses his cleverness for evil and not good!

I love Calvin to pieces and wouldn’t change him for the world! If he was a perfect Guide Dog, he wouldn’t be my Calvin, the one with the massive personality!

That’s it for Calvin week, thanks for reading and commenting and i’ll be back to boring you with my Paralympic dream soon.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Guide Dog Myths

In the two years I’ve had Calvin, I’ve been told all sorts of things that he can apparently do and general assumptions about Guide Dogs. So, I think it’s time to clear up at least ten Guide Dog myths.

1. A Guide Dog helps their owner in the house. Truth, only if the Guide Dog has been trained to be a dual purpose dog, they are in fact a normal dog in the house. In Calvin’s case this is chewing bones, destroying soft toys and nudging everyone to play with him.
2. A Guide Dog knows when it safe to cross the road. Truth, a dog doesn’t really have any sense of danger, although they do have some traffic training. A Guide Dog will only go on instruction to cross.
3. A Guide Dog knows where they are going. Truth, a Guide Dog can become familiar with a route, but ultimately the owner is in charge of where they are going.
4. You can tell a Guide Dog to go to Asda or Boots and they will take you. Truth, a Guide Dog doesn’t know Asda from Boots, the owner knows the way.
5. You have to be totally blind to have a Guide Dog. Truth, you just need a visual impairment and prove how a Guide Dog will benefit you.
6. If you are male you get a male Guide Dog and if you are female you get a female Guide Dog. Truth, a Guide Dog is matched based on the speed they walk, personality and other factors.
7. A Guide Dog can avoid overhead obstacles. Truth, they are trained to deal with overheads, but many, such as Calvin can only deal with things at their own head height. I often have tree branches whip my face, but the worst incident has to be a set of fire escape steps that literally knocked me to the floor and my face was bruised for days.
8. A Guide Dog is perfectly behaved. Truth, a Guide Dog is quite well trained, but at the end of the day they are just a dog!
9. The owner name’s their Guide Dog. Truth, a Guide Dog is named at birth and the entire litter will have a letter associated with them, unless they are sponsored. So in theory everyone in Calvin’s litter first name begins with a C.
10. A Guide Dog is yours for life. Truth, most Guide Dogs have a working life of about ten years and after that if the owner needs a new dog, they often have to give their dog up. It has already been agreed with my family that Calvin will remain with my parents once retired.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Two Peas in a Pod

They say dogs are often like their owners. There is no exception for Guide Dogs, Calvin and I are like two peas in a pod. Here are our ten similarities!

1. I have an obsession with brushing my hair; it’s literally the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing before bed. Calvin loves a good brush too, he’s always super excited when he sees me get the groom brush and is probably the only time he sits still!
2. We both love to run! I’m super jealous of the speed he can generate; he can go from zero to a hundred miles per hour in the blink of an eye!
3. Calvin will eat anything, but is a massive fan of fish. I adore fish too and always feel his scowl when I eat my salmon sandwiches most lunchtimes!
4. Beautiful eyes! Slightly random, but we both get told we have nice eyes! I have no idea what his look like, but pretty sure mine are tinged with redness most days!
5. Potential. He has the potential to be a brilliant Guide Dog. I have the potential to be a great sprinter. Neither of us are at the minute.
6. Play fighting! Calvin and I enjoy a good punch up, he’ll head but and paw me, whilst I trap him against the sofa or pretend to push him backwards!
7. Competitive! Neither of us ever want to be losers. A game of tug can go on forever!
8. The sunshine! I really enjoy Calvin’s company in the summer, as we both like to sunbathe. During the winter, Calvin can be found snuggled up to the radiator.
9. The rain! Something we both hate. Calvin refuses to go out for a busy in the rain and if he’s dragged out, he refuses to go!
10. Early mornings. We never like to waste the day away in bed. A lie in for us is about 8am!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Beyond the Call of Duty

Dear Guide Dog of the Year

I would like to nominate my three year old, Labrador, cross golden retriever, cross Labrador, Calvin, in the Beyond the Call of Duty category. I am aware that this category is usually reserved for Guide Dogs that take their work more seriously than other dogs, such as saving their owner from falling into a ditch or jumping into a river to save a drowning child, however, I feel that my Calvin takes his work to another level on a daily basis.

When I first applied for a Guide Dog and watched my visually impaired friends with their dogs, I was under the impression that they were extremely clever and well behaved animals. So, after nearly two years of waiting impatiently, I was excited that my life was going to be made a whole lot easier when out and about. Yes, at first I was slightly alarmed by Calvin’s size in comparison to me, as the first time he greeted me, his giant paws latched onto my shoulders! At this point, I had no idea that the Guide Dog I was being matched with was going to be, shall we say, a special case!

I should have known from that very first walk we had together. Calvin insisted on testing my reflexes, as he thought it would be hilarious to chase a squirrel. I was instantly reassured that this was out of character for him and I naively believed it. Turns out, Calvin loves nothing more than to chase things and is adamant that his sudden outbursts aid my ability to react quickly and effectively, which will ensure I’m always out of the blocks first in a race. Among his favourite things to chase are: other dogs, cats, birds, horses, runners, balls, Frisbees, leaves, floating litter and familiar people. Remarkably, there has only been one fatality, which was a poor pigeon, however, there have been countless distraught children after their game of football has been brought to an abrupt end with a burst ball. Calvin would like to take this opportunity to apologise for his actions, he’s always just as surprised as the children when the ball goes pop and naturally offers to replace it.

Many members of the public believe that a Guide Dog knows when it is safe to cross the road. This is a myth. Although Guide Dogs have some traffic training, they have little or no knowledge of safety. Calvin feels because he is unable to judge danger that it is important that I am kept up to date with my awareness. The first major test was when he casually walked across the train track when the barriers were coming down to indicate a train was coming. He has followed this up by crossing roads diagonally, not stopping at curbs and walking straight out, drifting into the road off of a flat curb, going when he feels like it over a road, stops in the middle to pick something up or sticks his head out a little bit too far. I am pleased to report that Calvin has enhanced my safety skills immensely and we’ve never been injured to date. There have been times where people have horned us or shouted out of their car windows though.

My Calvin is a dog of the community. He believes it is his duty to greet every person he sees in the street. This could be a slight pause as we pass by, a quick sniff of their crotch or if they smile at him, they may get a full blown cuddle, as he wraps his paws around their neck. They are often stunned by the latter, I can only assume because they are not used to seeing such a caring, sociable dog. Whilst working, Calvin multi-tasks as the local litter picker. Collecting wrappers, bottles, cans, twigs, horse muck, in fact anything that enters his path. Unfortunately, he usually swallows his findings, before a suitable disposal place has been found. Come bin day, his work never stops. He acts as the dustbin men’s little helper, as he stops by every box that is aptly around head height for Calvin, to check that residents have put the correct items in the appropriate colour coded boxes. Calvin is also a bit of an educator to the children in the community. He found a dead rabbit on the road side at the same time the pupils of the local primary school were heading home. He felt it necessary to give them a lesson in the circle of life, as we paraded the streets, unknown to me until we got home with him carrying the deceased bunny in his mouth.

As you can see Calvin always aims to take his work beyond its boundaries. When out food shopping, he enjoys helping out. He has been seen picking up fresh begets in Asda and recently tried to grab a Kinder Egg for the trolley, but ended up swallowing it whole, foil, chocolate, toy and all! He insists that it is unhealthy to rush, so takes our journeys casually, stopping to sniff lampposts and bushes. He’s an explorative animal, constantly seeking out new routes for us to take and obviously in search of new places to go, as we tend to end up somewhere unexpected. Finally, Calvin is a born leader. When out with others or with a group of Guide Dogs, he has to be at the front of the pack, guiding the way.

Some might think my Calvin is a disobedient nightmare, I think he is a legend! I’ve never met another Guide Dog that goes beyond the call of duty every time their harness is strapped on. Therefore, I hope Calvin can be awarded this prestigious prize and his hard work recognised.

Yours in puppy love

Selina Litt (proud owner of Calvin)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Top Dog!

My Calvin thinks he’s the world’s number one top dog! Here’s ten new things that he does on a regular basis to affirm his position as the man of the house!

1. He never tries to get on the sofa in the day, but by night when everyone is tucked up in bed he makes himself comfortable on the sofa in the living room. Calvin has been caught snoozing several times when someone comes down for a drink in the night.
2. If I haven’t taken him out for the entire day, Calvin refuses to get in bed, instead he just stands beside it wagging his tail at me, to let me know!
3. If I’m getting ready to go out, Calvin will constantly nudge me with his nose, so I don’t forget him!
4. He’ll dive into bed when it’s time for his last spend and can only be bribed out with treats, as he plays dead.
5. If I’ve got my quilt on the sofa, he becomes really jealous and tries to get it off me with his paws. He can only relax once he gets a quilt to snuggle on!
6. Calvin will plonk himself down in front of you and expect an ear scratch. If you stop before he’s ready, he’ll either turn around and give you a dirty look and insist you continue or push his head back into you!
7. Calvin will start crying within minutes of arriving at the track, as if to say hurry up and find your group so i can go for my walk with your PA!
8. Calvin’s not much of a barker, but he’s getting more vocal these days and growls or barks at randoms in the street from behind the front door, just to let them know he can stick up for himself!
9. Calvin’s not allowed in my parents room, but now he’s brave, he often takes a few steps in and is gradually getting further and further in without being told to get out!
10. Now he’s three, he dares to mount any dog, never mind their age or size!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Poorly Pup

Since having Calvin, I’ve been really lucky with him health wise. Yeah he’s thrown up the odd time in the night, as his stomach of steel has failed him, after he’s scoffed too many twigs, stones or eaten the fluff of his toys that he insists on destroying. However, this year he’s had two eye infections and just last week was struck down with gastroenteritis.

Being blind, I’ve found that I’ve struggled to know when he has been unwell, since there have been no obvious signs. For example, both times he had the eye infections, I hadn’t a clue until my parents told me that his eye looked red and gunky. Then there were the eye drops, not a chance would I have been able to do them myself, it took three of us to pin him down. He wasn’t too bothered about it going in his eye, he just wanted to eat the solution and kept his mouth wide open to try and catch it.

The gastroenteritis was new to me, I was home alone and he threw up four times within two hours. Only I didn’t realise, as I only found one batch. There was no indication that he wasn’t well, we’d been to the shops in the morning and he seemed himself. I took him to the vets once my dad got home and alerted me to the amount of sick, but the vet said he seemed fine and needed no treatment. I had no idea what to do when a dog is ill, so just took it. The next morning I trod in some more sick and was fuming that the vet said he was fine. This was the day I was meeting Jonathan Edwards and in an unfamiliar environment on my own with strangers, so Calvin was vital to me. I crossed my fingers that he would be ok when we were there and he was, but I felt guilty for working him and took him back to the vets straight after. We saw a different vet, he was given an injection, some rehydration powder for his water and some special food for the next few days. He was far from impressed that he had to miss a meal though!

It’s not pleasant knowing your dog is unwell, although Calvin has never seemed too bothered. He did make me giggle last week, he was obviously feeling a bit rough, but was dying to play at the same time, so he’d do a few moments of being hyper Calv and then flop down, realising that he didn’t have the energy. This occurred a few times, the blonde!

Calvin’s bouts of illness this year has reminded me of how valuable he is to my day to day life. It also concerns me that because of my disability I’m not always able to know there is a problem. It brings it home how important family is sometimes, even when you crave total independence. Here’s hoping my furry friend isn’t ill again anytime soon.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Morning Musings

One of my modules as part of my English Language and Literature degree is Creative Writing. The first assignment required us to write a short piece of prose, which could be fiction, autobiographical or biographical. I ended up writing about Calvin and what our mornings are like. The majority is true, except for the ending, as Calvin certainly isn’t up for a snooze after stuffing his face! I needed to wrap the piece up though. I scored a respectable 77% for the assignment, which included more than this and I hope you enjoy it!

Morning Musings

I’m fast asleep dreaming of something sweet and peaceful. Gradually, my head becomes as light as a feather and I drift into reality once more. My eyes are firmly shut, feeling heavy from sleep, but suddenly my ears are filled with the sound of tiny feet charging up the stairs. I half smile and half grumble to myself, pulling my soft quilt over my head. The feet stop momentarily outside my bedroom door and then merrily tap dance in onto my wooden floor. I purposely keep still for dramatic effect and can sense a pair of eyes surveying the scene. I hear a sniff of satisfaction closely followed by a cold wet nose on my skin, as my cheeky Labrador cross Golden Retriever greets me. Letting out a quiet giggle, I stretch for my clock to find out the time. Although my eyes are now wide open they see nothing but blackness.
‘The time is seven twenty four a.m.’ announces the chirpy lady inside my clock, clearly more awake than I am.
‘Oh Calvin, you couldn’t wait six whole minutes?!’ I hear myself croak wearily. His tail begins to beat rhythmically off of my wardrobe in response, as if to say
‘rise and shine!’. Reluctantly, the covers are thrown off, much to Calvin’s delight, as he shuffles on the spot in excitement. Knowing my surroundings like the back of my hand, I gracefully and confidently make my way downstairs not stopping to turn any lights on in the process.

My first glimpse of the time of day occurs when I open the curtains in the living room that reveals the garden to Calvin and daylight to me. However, even though I can only see a sheet of white light that represents a new day, I can envisage exactly what the garden’s appearance is from my childhood memory. Immediately beyond the patio door is hexagonal paving, natural stone mixed with salmon pink slabs. To the left, the side of the shed can be seen, once with a white rectangular window, but more recently it was painted blue, yet I can only imagine the original setting. Directly ahead is the pond surrounded by the lawn, small trees and bushes. The water was always a disgusting looking green, as the little black statue of a man never spouted fresh water. It’s amazing to think that creatures can survive in the murky water that is probably closer to black these days. My garden isn’t an exhilarating illustration to the naked eye, but to me the picture is a masterpiece, embedded in my visual memory, the only vision that I have retained.

I slide the patio door open, stepping out into the morning breeze, unfashionably dressed with my pink paw patterned ‘wellies’ and knee high winter coat over my pyjamas. Shadowing me every step of the way is Calvin, the furry set of eyes that I have acquired. He’s not looking out for me now, far too focused on uncrossing his paws. I pull down on the entrance gate to his spending area that makes a loud clunking noise, disturbing the birds’ morning tune. I find myself fantasising that there are birds of every shape, colour and size singing in harmony; blue tits, red breasted robins, black birds and sunshine yellow canaries.
I command Calvin to
‘busy busy’ but being well trained he’s one step ahead of me and an unpleasant whiff meets my nose causing my nostrils to flare. Ecstatic with his achievement Calvin develops a swagger in his walk mirroring Danny Zuko in Grease. He licks his chops raucously which allows me to hear a ‘sloppy slurp’, as he communicates his hunger.
‘breakfast?’ I squeal in a high pitched tone, more awake due to the freshness of the air upon my face. We race inside, the change in temperature slightly burning my cheeks. Calvin sits poised waiting for the ‘take it’ command before he gorges himself, eating so vigorously just in case the food magically disappears before him. Stomach emptied and filled again, my furry set of eyes grabs a cuddly toy, snuggles up in his bed and begins to snore. He’s fast asleep, dreaming of something sweet and peaceful, whilst I’m fully alert, wondering if he’d find it amusing if I were to repeat his deed and wake him up!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Calvin Week's Back!

To celebrate a year’s partnership with my Guide Dog Calvin last year I had Calvin week where I posted informative and light hearted posts daily. Today marks two years since we started training together and because I don’t update on him much these days, it seems fitting to have Calvin week once more! I’m running the week from Wednesday to Wednesday this time, just to be different, (tell a lie I forgot on Monday), so check back each day to be amused and educated!

Running Blind

Running Blind is a documentary featuring visually impaired sprinter Libby Clegg. It begins in Gateshead in 2010 at the Disability Athletics Challenge, which I remember well, as I was competing too! It follows her journey to the IPC World Championships in New Zeeland that were held in January this year. I found the programme captured visually impaired running and visual impairment in general really well. It highlights just how important a guide runner is and day to day struggles that you learn just to get on with. I found that I could relate to much of what Libby described, both in the period where I lost my sight and even now as someone with no useful vision.

Libby now trains at Loughborough the same place as me and I often see her at the track. Lincoln Asquith who was her first guide runner appears in the documentary and has recently started to assist with my training. He has another son who is one of my new guide runners. After watching the programme I feel more confident that I have made the right steps to fulfilling my own athletics goals.

I don’t know how long the documentary will stay on BBC Iplayer, but if you get the chance definitely check it out! Just click the following link: Running Blind

You’ve got to fight for every dream!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Funding Update

I’ve had a whirl wind of a week promoting myself as a Paralympic star of the future in order to get funding. I’ve featured in the paper three times, done a radio interview and had a networking lunch, which included meeting the legend that is Jonathan Edwards.

It all kicked off on Monday when the Leicester Mercury asked if they could do an interview with me there and then. They sent a photographer out that same day and I featured in the paper on Tuesday. You can read the article here: Leicester Mercury Funding Article

On Wednesday I was invited by Inspire Leicestershire to attend a lunch meeting with triple jumper Jonathan Edwards. He was visiting Leicester to see how we are preparing for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. My name was mentioned in the paper the day before and day after the event. Whilst doing my best not to act star struck, I had a nice little conversation with Jonathan and a useless fact for you is that he has a black Labrador. The meeting also sparked some possible funding opportunities, which I hope will be explored in the near future.

On Thursday my interview with BBC Radio Leicester was aired. A big thank you goes to Peter Barratt who has offered me some funds after hearing the programme.

I’ve also had a blast from the past, as an old teacher has contacted me. She has a few ideas to generate some more funding and sparked a thousand happy memories from primary school.

So things are on the move and despite all of these media commitments I’ve still been training hard, as at the end of the day funding will be a massive help, but my dream of competing at the Paralympics won’t become a reality unless I work for it!

Success is never perminant and failure is never final!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Bruno and Katy

Last week was loaded with music concerts, as I saw both Bruno Mars and Katy Perry at the Capital FM Arena Nottingham. Bruno was brilliant, even though his production was quite different from what you tend to see at concerts these days. He didn’t have any dancers, made no costume changes and only sang his songs. However, he did play various instruments, hit notes out of this world and his interaction with the audience was impressive. Maybe if I could see I would have appreciated his winks, smile and pelvic thrusts that sent the women in the crowd absolutely crazy. I’ve been to a fair few concerts, but I think this was the loudest by far!

Katy’s performance was completely the opposite, yet equally as spectacular. I don’t think i’ve known an artist to have so many costume changes, she came out into the crowd in a ball of candy floss and I found her sense of humour compelling. She’s a little odd, but someone who would make a great friend! The video shown during her costume changes was quite amusing and I about lost my voice singing ‘Fireworks’ on bonfire night. The words to that song are really inspiring.

I’ve got a fair few concerts lined up next year including Jason Derulo, JLS, The Wanted, Steps and Westlife’s final ever tour, which is going to be traumatic! However, 2012 is set to be the best year ever!

Baby I’m a firework, I’m gonna show them what I’m worth; make them go oh, oh, oh, as I shoot across the line, line, line!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

300 Days To Go!

300 days to go until the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the time is really ticking now. My preparations have had a drastic shake up, but fingers crossed it’s all for the best in the end.

I now have three guide runners, yes three, as I can’t bear to be in the usual predicament of being left solo for a few weeks. This way, if one or two don’t work out, then I’ll still be ok, still can train and still feel like I’m on track. However, fitting three guide runners in a week has increased my training sessions, but this can only be a good thing long term.

All this extra training and guide runners cost money, so I was relieved to discover that I had been nominated for a Sports Aid Award for the third year running by UK Athletics. Inspire Leicestershire, who are basically in charge of making sure Leicester makes the most of the Olympics and Paralympics have also been searching for funding opportunities for me. Here is the article published on their website and sent to their media partners:

Article on Request for Funding

From this, I was contacted by a local primary school who are going to fundraise for me, which I’m so incredibly grateful and touched by. It will be brilliant to get the kids excited about Paralympic sport, enhance their awareness of disability and hopefully make them feel proud that they have supported a local athlete to a once in a lifetime event.

I’ve been a bit down for a while, but I’m so glad that things are looking up!

The future’s bright, the future’s London 2012!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Bognor Weekend Away

Last Friday I went to Bognor Regis to stay at the Russell Hotel run by Action for the Blind. The long weekend was spent with four of my visually impaired friends, three of which also have a Guide Dog. We’d been to stay two years previously, but that was before I had Calvin.

After arriving on the Friday we took a stroll into town along the promenade where instantly Calvin was eager to get on the pebble beach. I’ve only been on the beach once with him and that’s when we met his Puppy Walkers last year. Being a beach boy for the first year of his life he obviously has a soft spot for the sea. Before dinner we allowed the dogs to have a play. Calvin is normally a loon on free-runs and I’m sure he was even more excited than usual, as he sprinted around the beach, dived in the sea and kicked all of the pebbles in his wake searching for treasure! He was the most ignorant out of the dogs on recall, desperate to stay for as long as possible!

On Saturday we took a trip to Brighton and I was surprised at how busy the place was, I would say even busier than London! Calvin was dying to get on the beach again as we walked along the peer, I had to battle him at every set of steps to persuade him not to go down! We grabbed some freshly made doughnuts in true holiday spirit and browsed the shops at leisure.

Sunday was meant to be a relaxing day, gym followed by swimming, a spot of lunch and general chit chat. However, the so called gym only had three pieces of equipment, not including a bike and the cross-trainer and rower didn’t work! So we quickly knocked that on the head and went swimming where the pool was relatively warm. However, some guy took up half the pool doing lengths, which made it difficult for us to swim freely. Since our Guide Dogs all walk at different speeds with Calvin being one of the quickest, we thought we would be more sociable on our trip into town and let the dogs leg it around on the beach whilst we strolled up the promenade. We did this on the way back too, much to Calvin’s delight!

Overall, the hotel is nice and accessible, the staff mostly helpful and the food edible. I particularly enjoyed Scottish kipper each breakfast time, which Calvin cursed me for, as he sulked with jealousy! It was a jam packed weekend and Calvin possibly enjoyed it more than me! Oh and after the four hour train journey home, I went to athletics training like a good little athlete!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

It's as Easy as ABC

I’m sure you have all seen my advert for a new guide runner, which came quite unexpectedly, but then again maybe I was foolish to be so complacent. I’m not really in a position to update on the situation at the moment, as things are very much still work in progress. However, I wanted to blog something and have decided to write an alphabet of motivation, since I’ve found myself doubting my ability and ambitions, which is not like me at all! In real life, I’m quite a quiet person in relation to my athletics training, but inside i’m mentally strong, never satisfied and always wanting more. I don’t want to lose that faith in myself, so here goes...

A is for ambition, never be afraid to dream
B is for brave, don’t ever give up
C is for confidence, have faith in yourself
D is for determination, if you’re not hungry for something, it won’t happen
E is for effort, don’t expect things on a plate
F is for fight, be fearless
G is for goals, big or small you can achieve them
H is for happiness, don’t be miserable in what you do
I is for I, be selfish, think about number one
J is for journey, it might be bumpy, but it will be worth it
K is for kick, kick some ass in what you do
L is for length, go to all lengths to get what you deserve
M is for motivation, keep your eye on the prize
N is for never, there’s no such word
O is for obstacles, climb over them or just smash straight through them
P is for pain, no pain, no gain
Q is for question, don’t ever question your ability, you can do anything
R is for rainbow, find that pot of gold
S is for success, the end product
T is for time, nothing happens instantly
U is for unlimited, don’t set limits
V is for visualise, view the dream in your head at least everyday
W is for welcome, don’t dismiss any useful advice or help from others
X is for excuses, there are none, just get on with it
Y is for you, don’t do it for anyone, but yourself
Z is for zone, stay in it, focus and succeed!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011



I’m a visually impaired athlete in search of a sprinter who is able to train with me at least twice per week. Ideally, this would be on a Monday and Wednesday evening from about 6.30pm, as I train with Charnwood AC at Loughborough University.

What you need to know:
£9 per hour
40p per mile (for travel to competitions)
No experience required
Must be able to run 100m in 12.5secs
Looking to qualify for Paralympics 2012

My stats:
100m PB 14.91 – 2012 B Standard 14.80 – 2012 A Standard 14.25
200m PB 32.22 – 2012 B Standard 30.30 – 2012 A Standard 28.65
Long Jump PB 3.21 – 2012B Standard 3.30 – 2012 A Standard 3.80

If interested or for more information please contact me at:



Sunday, 25 September 2011


I stayed at the Pickalbatros Aqua Fun Club Hotel in Marrakech Morocco from 15-22 September. I have to say it’s one of the best hotels I have stayed in and I’ve travelled an awful lot. All Inclusive food can sometimes become samey, but they had a good variety. The only downside was that the free ice-cream was only for kids! Within the complex was an aqua park, which made the place unique. I’ve never been a big slide person, but dared myself to go down some of the smaller ones. They also had a wave pool, which you could just swim in or go on a small boat. I went on a boat with my dad and warned him that if we fell out I wasn’t sure if I could touch the floor, I’m not a very strong swimmer at all. Halfway around the waves seemed to get rougher, the boat spun around and one came in slow motion towards the side of the boat. Whoosh! It capsized and I went under. At no point did my dad attempt to save me, he was too busy saving himself! I could just touch the floor with my feet when the waves weren’t there, but it was a nightmare! Two life guards came to help us back in the boat, which was now filled to the rim with water. I was relieved to get back to the start and get out, but saying that on reflection, I did quite enjoy the experience!

Other entertainment in the hotel included mini golf where I got a few hole in ones, how I don’t know, free pool, a tennis court, which my parents always play and a kids playground (who doesn’t like the swings)!

The holiday flew by and we only ended up leaving the hotel once on the free shuttle service to the nearest town. It was another world from the hotel, Morocco is still very much a developing country. I lost count of the times I nearly got run over by a moped, which apparently don’t have to stay on the roads. There were also loads of people that travel by horse and carriage, which was quite surreal, as they made their way through the immense traffic. Here we have to slow down for horses, but no chance there! We did want to climb the Atlas Mountains, but the time just went.

Good weather, good food and great facilities made a brilliant holiday!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Paralympic Tickets

Last Friday tickets for the London 2012 Paralympic Games went on sale and applications will remain open until Monday 26 September at 6pm. I found viewing the official timetable very surreal. For example, on Tuesday 4 September 2012 I could either be living my dream in the T11 100m heats or sitting in the stands kicking myself for not working hard enough, although I’m 100% certain I would have done everything possible to make my ambition a reality. Likewise, on Friday 7 September 2012, I don’t want to be wishing I was competing in the F11/12 long jump; I want to be doing it! I’m being more realistic about my chances of qualifying for the 200m, as I need to slash 2 seconds just for the B standard. What I did find interesting about the timetable, is that the visually impaired categories seem to be one of the hardest, as they have heats, semi finals and finals. Some classifications may just have a straight final, most likely because the event is still developing.

So, I will be applying for tickets for the above dates, in the hope my family can watch a miracle unfold! At times I find it challenging to keep my passion, determination and focus, as when people rightly ask ‘have you qualified for the games?’ I have to say no, but then feel like I’m defending myself when explaining I’m close. I am also a nobody in terms of the amount of top Paralympic athletes Great Britain and Northern Ireland have. Therefore, you’re unlikely to see me in the media like many other athletes, but I was given the opportunity to appear in my local paper. It was a comprehensive telephone interview, yet I only got two lines and was misquoted at that. Saying that I’m grateful to be recognised nonetheless. You can view the article here: Paralympic Leicester Mercury Article 09/09/2011

At the foot of the article there is a link to the official Paralympic ticketing website. Prices for tickets start at just £10, which include a day travel pass for London. Both my events can be purchased at this incredibly reasonable fee and if you have as much confidence as I do in myself, I urge you to apply. Hell, I urge you to apply anyway, as I promise it will be an amazing showcase of Paralympic talent, grit and determination!

When you feel like you’re at the end of the rope, tie a knot and hang on!

Sunday, 11 September 2011


Where were you ten years ago to the day? Most of us can’t remember what we did last week, never mind a decade ago, but some dates just stick with you forever. On 11 September 2001 I was thirteen years old. I should have been at school, instead, I was at home ill with my mum who was also ill and really must have been suffering to miss a day at work. Whilst I’m sure we were feeling sorry for ourselves, who would have thought that feeling ill could be made so trivial.

I clearly remember it being around lunchtime and we were watching Crossroads on TV. The programme was interrupted for breaking news in America. The first plane had already hit the north tower and we witnessed the second plane hitting the south tower. I remember I was lying on the sofa and had acquired the art of just listening to the TV, as opposed to sitting on top of it to see what was happening. So, I did not see any of the live images and definitely didn’t understand the magnitude of the attack. At the time I wasn’t emotionally affected by the events unfolding before me, I had never even heard of the twin towers, yet remained watching it all for hours.

Over the years I have watched the various documentaries about the day, the amazing survivor stories, the brave emergency services efforts and the tragic loss of thousands of innocent lives. It wasn’t until a few years later watching these shows that I learnt that there were two further planes, the one that went into the Pentagon and the one that the passengers gained control back and crashed it into a field.

Ten years on, I have been transfixed to the television once more, much wiser and much more sympathetic, as I’ve watched the various memorial ceremonies taking place across the world. For some reason this morning three thousand people who lost their lives didn’t seem to be a massive number. However, the roll call at Ground Zero put it into perspective. Listening to the endless names from every culture imaginable made 9/11 and its significance hit home. It’s impossible to comprehend why and how human beings would want to and did commit mass murder, suicide and general terror.

Where were you on this day ten years ago...

Sunday, 4 September 2011

World Championships 2011

The thirteenth IAAF Athletics World Championships took place in Daegu over nine days from 27 August to 4 September. The event failed to disappoint with its high drama and nail biting performances. The Aviva Great Britain and Northern Island Team had a target of seven medals including one gold and managed to surpass this by getting two golds.

The top podium step performances came from Dai Green in the men’s 400m hurdles and Mo Farah over 5000m. Mo also clinched a silver medal over 10000m, which could have so easily been gold, but a gutsy run nonetheless. Another athlete with guts was Hannah England who sprinted for her life at the end of a competitive 1500m to grab an unexpected, but well deserved silver. 110m hurdler Andy Turner controversially picked up the bronze after winner Dayron Robles was disqualified for impeding another athlete. Our final medal was picked up by Phillips Idowu in the men’s triple jump who despite leaping to a season’s best performance only came away with silver.

Whilst Great Britain achieved their target set, there were so many missed opportunities. 800m runner Jenny Meadows who medalled at the last games failed to make the final despite being in good form. Perry Shakes Drayton agonisingly missed the 400m hurdles final by 0.01secs. The most shocking had to be Christina Ohuruogu who false started in the 400m and got disqualified. Another false starter was the experienced Dwain Chambers in the 100m semi final. Tiffany Porter was unlucky to finish fourth in the 100m hurdles after clattering one towards the finish. On the infield, both of our top long jumpers went out injured and ever improving Holly Bleasdale no heighted in the pole vault qualification.

Elsewhere, the biggest shock of the games came from the most famous athlete in the sport, Usain Bolt who unbelievably false started in the men’s 100m final and was effectively disqualified. Oscar Pistorius made history by being the first amputee athlete to compete at a major athletics championship. The South African did well to make it to the 400m semi final and won a 4x400m silver medal despite being left out of the squad for the final even though he was the quickest of their athletes. Sally Pearson and Alyson Felix were the stand out athletes for me, Sally was just 0.07secs away from the 100m hurdles world record, whilst Alyson collected two golds, a silver and bronze from the relays, 200m and 400m. As a country Kenya were outstanding dominating the women’s distance events, as well as doing exceptional in the men’s. Perhaps I’m slightly bias there, as my dad was born in Kenya! One thing that niggled me in the championships that no world records were being broken, but thankfully and surprisingly, as Asafa Powell was injured, the Jamaican 4x100m relay team with the lightning bolt on the anchor leg smashed the world record powering to 37.04secs.

Channel 4’s coverage of the games had its ups and downs. The amount of athletics shown was immense, yet at times the commentating was below par. In my opinion the ex athletes, such as Michael Johnson and Iwan Thomas did the better jobs. Overall, an inspiring, fascinating and drama filled games, I can’t wait for next year’s European Championships and Olympic Games!

Daegu Delivered!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Olympic Ticket Care Success

You may remember last month when I submitted an application for two free carer tickets to accompany my current opening day of athletics Olympic tickets. Well, after all the battling to get what I felt I deserved, I got a call from Ticket Care confirming my application had been accepted. So I now have four tickets for the first morning of athletics, meaning my entire family can attend the games. It also makes the £150 tickets feel less expensive, as at the end of the day, my brother and I aren’t going to be able to see a thing no matter where we sit.

However, I still maintain the opinion that the ticket process could have and should have been so much better. Not everyone will have been as successful as me, the guy on the phone expressed that how others didn’t explain why they needed a carer well enough, but mine was really clear. Tickets for the Paralympics go on sale between 9 and 26 September with exactly the same ticket process as the Olympics. I can’t be doing with the stress of Ticket Care again, so will be applying for four tickets. Hopefully I won’t need one of the tickets as I’ll actually be competing, but if not I want to watch the T11 100m heats and probably kick myself of what could have been!

Fight to the end!

August Injuries

Now I’ve reached the end of my athletics season, my body has the chance to recover from any outstanding niggles or injuries, as I won’t start running again until late September.

Shins – Are about ok, but have been flaring up after training and competitions. The month off of impact upon them should allow them to fully heal.
Ankles – Again play up from time to time, but again the break from impact and constant rehab work should strengthen them for the winter.
Knee – This is a new issue, but thankfully nothing serious. Due to a tight IT band my knee has been getting locked and causing some pain. On-going physio treatment should sort it in no time.

I definitely don’t feel like I’m falling to pieces anymore!

Monday, 29 August 2011

1 Year To Go

It feels like it was only yesterday when I was blogging about two years to go until the London 2012 Paralympics, but suddenly there is only a year left! That Paralympic Show’s third series begins on Saturday, continuing to introduce the public to disability sport in a fun light hearted, but educational manner. Channel 4 are also launching a documentary series called Best of Britain profiling our top Paralympic athletes, which will be coming soon.

Regarding my preparations for the games, my final competition in Gateshead saw me achieve two PBs, along with two wins. It was raining heavily for my 100m, which made warming up a bit miserable and I’ve never actually seen proper puddles on the track before. I had a poor reaction off of the start, which has been the same story throughout this season, but I managed to pick it up. I didn’t feel as smooth, aggressive or as quick as I did in training, so was relieved to run a legal PB of 15.06secs with a wind of 1.2. No qualification standard this year.

The weather cleared up for my 200m, but it was still quite chilly for August! Usually, I find myself drawn in lanes one and two or seven and eight. Strangely, I was in four and five, where I rarely practice running around the bend. On my inside was a world class athlete for her category and I knew she had run faster than me this year and had a better PB overall. Coming around the bend we were about level. As I attempted to straighten up for the final 100m, I misjudged it, running in god knows what direction and losing a couple of metres. With 80m to go I kicked for my life, but so did the other athlete. Rocking and rolling with 30m to go, I just kept it going as best I could to the line. It was her home track and the crowd were clearly all going crazy for her and not me, which made me more determined. A time of 32.22secs takes just over a tenth off of my PB of 32.35secs, but it was a good result, as I haven’t run faster than 32.92secs this year. Hopefully, with a killer winter, I’ll get the strength to get closer to the B standard of 30.30secs.

I’m having a week off training before starting back in the gym and doing a combination of circuits and cycling. It won’t be until the end of September that I start running again. My last two winters have been interrupted with injury and guide runner issues, so I’m excited to have a full, hard winter of training. I’m ready to throw up after sessions because I’ve pushed myself to the limit!

One year to go and I still have one goal, one dream, London 2012 Paralympics!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Sub 15, finally!

I competed twice last week, Charnwood Open and in the Midland League, neither of which are disability competitions. I started to worry that the day would never come for me to run sub 15secs, but thank goodness it did, but how frustrating that the wind was illegal! I ran 14.91secs for 100m with a wind of plus 2.1. The most you are allowed to be deemed legal is plus 2.0. I know that I had a good race, but my body did seize up 10m to go again, so it’s reassuring to know that there is more in the tank. Now I feel within touching distance of the B standard 14.80secs.

On Sunday I raced in Nottingham, which is always a horrible windy track. My 100m was into a minus 2.3 and I managed 15.4secs, there was no electronic timing. The 200m was into a minus 3.0 and I got 33.4secs, but was quite disappointed with my home straight, as the wind gobbled me up and I had no kick finish. There were also no blocks available for my 200m, which was weird.

1. I ran sub 15secs
2. I know there is still more to come
3. I’ve stopped running left
4. My starts were smooth
5. I’m improving with every race
My next and final race of the season is in Gateshead on 27 August. This is the track where I achieved my PBs last year and hoping for the same this year.

Climbing the ladder of success!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Olympics: Carer Ticket Application

A couple of weeks ago I filled out the form on the London 2012 website to request free carer tickets for my brother and I. They suggested that you keep your explanation of why you require a free companion ticket brief, so I did to the best of my ability, making it nice and blunt too. It’s now less than a year to go until I watch the first morning of athletics. The closing date for carer applications was 31 July and I should hear the outcome by 31 August. However, they did say that they may contact you before then for further information, but I can’t see why they should. I name dropped the Accessibility Manager who did an interview on Radio 4’s Intouch programme on my case and if that isn’t good enough, I have evidence of the letter of complaint I sent them, which was responded to a few weeks later with an auto reply of possible questions I was apparently asking. That didn’t impress me!

You can listen to me and the Accessibility Manager on the link below. I was pleased with the editing; they kept a lot of me in!

BBC Intouch 05/07/2011

Big thanks to In Touch for putting so much effort into this campaign!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Stoke Mandeville

Last weekend was the Stoke Mandeville Disability Challenge where an international field were present. In my race alone there were athletes from South Africa, Cyprus and Australia. It was a fairly successful competition, but I always want and need more!

I didn’t get a brilliant start in the 100m, as I stumbled a little out of the blocks; however I picked it up and was surprised to be in contention with the field. At 90m, I made a final push, but my body just collapsed on me, which has never happened to me before. I think I must have been trying so hard that I tightened up too much. I came last, as expected, but ran a season’s best time of 15.24secs, just 0.02secs outside of my PB, which was run with a much stronger following wind, so basically it was the best race of my life, yet it was far from perfect.

Tucked in on the inside lane for the 200m I gave it my best shot to chase everyone down. It was by far one of my better bend runs, excluding the fact that I kept hitting myself with the arm attached to my guide. I wish I had a bit of a stronger finish, as my legs were burning with 30m to go. I still managed to run a season’s best of 32.92secs into a minus 1.5 head wind, which is pretty impressive. If the wind was the other way around, I would have run a PB for sure. To put it into perspective, an athlete who beat me by half a second in Bedford, ran nearly half a second slower than me, all be it in a race after mine. Oh yeah I came last again, but it is much better to chase than be ahead, it’s the only way I’m going to improve.

1. I ran two season best times
2. I’m improving around the bend
3. I’m able to stay in the drive phase for a full 30m
4. My performances are getting better not worse
5. I know there is still more in the tank

So I still lack any qualification times or PBs to my name, but thankfully the season isn’t over yet. My next race is on Wednesday, Charnwood Open.

There can be miracles, when you believe!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Distinction No.3

My third module with The Open University was A210 Approaching Literature. I have to say this is my most rewarding mark yet, even though I also achieved Distinctions on my previous two modules. Throughout my assignments I didn’t drop below 80% and peaked at 95%, which was just mind blowing. I gained an average of 87% for my assignments with just the exam to go. I never expected to score 85% on my exam, which would secure my Distinction overall and hoped that my mark would be bumped up anyway like the last two times. But I did it! I got exactly 85% and this beats any GSCE, A Level result or any other achievement in my life. To be one of forty out of one thousand and fourteen students who took the exam and managed a Distinction is amazing. I work hard, but never consider myself to be smarter than the average bear! Starting in October I’m doubling up on courses doing A215 Creative Writing and E301 The Art of English. I’ll then conclude my English Language and Literature degree with EA300 Children’s Literature commencing October 2012.

Full results:
TMA 01 – 80%
TMA 02 – 89%
TMA 03 – 83%
TMA 04 – 86%
TMA 05 – 95%
TMA 06 – 91%
TMA 07 – 82%
Exam – 85%
OCAs – 87%

August, the month of success!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

July Injuries

I don’t want to jinx things, but I think I’m pretty much injury free!

Shins – Get slightly inflamed after a tough session, but are generally perfectly fine
Ankles – Ache from time to time, but no big deal
Achilles– Marginal stiff heel, but doesn’t affect training

After a hurricane, comes a rainbow!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

400 Days To Go!

Today marks 400 days to go until the start of the London 2012 Paralympics. Instead of harping on about my aspiration to be there, I thought I would write a short post on why YOU should be there as a spectator!

Many of the Paralympic sports are the same as the Olympic ones, such as athletics, swimming and cycling, but may have slight modifications including a guide runner for visually impaired athletes, no diving into the pool for some physical disabilities and hand cycles for wheelchair users in order to make the sport accessible. There are also some events, which are exclusive to the Paralympics, such as goalball, boccia and the club throw. Likewise there are some sports, which are excluded for obvious reasons like the pole vault, synchronised swimming and wrestling!

If you are a fan of a sport that has a Paralympic equivalent, then there is no reason why you wouldn’t find it fulfilling to watch. You may not know the athletes by name, but you know who you’re supporting, Great Britain! Surely it would be fascinating to watch the blind football team’s amazing spacial awareness, as well as their advanced football skills. Imagine watching an athlete that can’t walk, but can glide through the pool at exceptional speed. Perhaps wheelchair basketball would take your fancy, as they can dribble as well as control their wheelchair at the same time. Then there are the amputee cyclists who are so fast that they have represented their country in the able bodied version. Wouldn’t it be spectacular to watch a bunch of totally blind athletes run full pelt in the direction of a sand pit and leap to massive distances?The list is endless!

Disability sport is just as competitive as able bodied sport and the standard exceptionally high. Athletes train just as hard as their able bodied peers and don’t allow their disability to hold them back in any way. Whether visually impaired, have CP,missing a limb, is a wheelchair user or have any other physical disability, one thing is for certain they all have the same hunger to succeed, pride to represent their country and self-determination to push their body beyond its limits!

Paralympic sport is unique!

Thursday, 21 July 2011


I hate odd numbers and now I have a whole year of being 23 years old! What an awkward age to be, not quite in your mid twenties, your twenty-first seems a million years ago, but your thirtieth seems trillions of years away! In athletics terms you’re considered to be a ‘senior’ athlete, a label given until you hit thirty-five when they decide you’re over the hill! I think the time between twenty-one and thirty will be the forgotten years, the early adult years, the years where you don’t really meet new people, the time in which you just get on with things. Or maybe that’s just true for me!

Yesterday I woke up feeling the same as any other day, only by the power of time I had aged a year. I had a quite low key birthday really, I can’t actually remember the last time I had a birthday party. I saw the final Harry Potter film at the cinema with my family, had tapas for lunch and saw The Sound of Music at the theatre in the evening, again with my family. Harry Potter was a great film, but I hate the ending when they jump forward so many years, it’s all just too final! Since The Sound of Music is one of my favourite musicals of all time, I had very high expectations and was disappointed in places. They muddled the songs up compared to the film, added in new songs, altered the storyline and well you just can’t beat Julie Andrews can you!

I got six cards, three from my immediate family, parents, brother and Calvin, one from my aunt and uncle, one from my aunt’s parents who I have never met and one from my neighbour. None from friends. None from all my other uncles, aunts and cousins, let me tell you there are allot of them too, as my dad is one of eight. I did however get lots of Face Book messages and made the effort to reply to every single one individually. It just seems no fun getting older!

Oh well, climb every mountain, follow every rainbow until you find your dreams!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

One Vision, 2012!

Three days of racing in one week and thankfully some positive results, but lack of consistency and qualification standards is frustrating.

Last Wednesday was my local club’s open and I did both sprint events. I was pretty disappointed to only get 15.72secs over 100m, as I had been working on my drive phase and managed to stay down for the full 30m. However, my stride length lacked length! It was such a long wait until the 200m and it wasn’t until 9.45pm that I ended up racing. Because I am eternally jinxed, on the first stride my new guide rope snapped! I wasn’t actually aware of this until my guide runner told me to stop, as it was her side that had broken. I was allowed to run in the next heat, but had to use my old guide rope that just let’s me run in the wrong direction. Surprisingly I ran a season’s best of 33.67secs.

At the weekend it was the English and Parallel Success Championships held in Bedford. I had never raced there before, but had heard about the windy conditions that hovered over the track! Long jump was up first and it was absolutely pouring it down with rain. Feeling cold, wet and miserable in my vest and shorts I couldn’t wait for it to be over. My practice jumps were a disaster; I found it impossible to concentrate with the weather and commentator talking about the track events. To be fair, the officials acknowledged that this was an issue for me and a flag system was used, so when the flag was up the commentator had to stop speaking for my jump. They also had to move the board forward, as it was 2m from the pit and effectively I could jump from 3m away and not even make the pit, this wasn’t just for me though, as the other disabled jumpers would have also had a similar problem. After my awful warm-up jumps, I really went for it on my first jump, just to commit and definitely get one in, though it petrifies me every time jumping into the obis! I veered left and only one foot made the pit, with the other leg hitting the safety mat and grazing my knee. This was still measured, as I made the sand and because I was a little shaken afterwards and trying to regain my focus for the next five jumps, I didn’t hear the distance. I wish I did hear the distance, as it turned out to be my best jump and I would have gone in straight away! My next 3 jumps were no jumps; getting more confident and stretching out my stride length I went over the board marginally on 2 and just ran through one, as I felt rushed with a race about to start on the track and commentator waiting for me. My final two jumps were around the 2 and a half metre mark and I was utterly disgusted with my performance! Then the results came up and it turns out my first jump was 3.21m 9cm short of the B standard for the Paralympics next year. I was awarded a shiny good quality gold medal, as I was the closest to my classification’s world record.

Thankfully, the rain stopped for my 100m where I was faced with a pretty strong field. The number one Great Britain T11 sprinter, Tracey Hinton was drawn in the lane to my left and double world junior champion in the T37 category was drawn in the lane to my right. Sandwiched by world class athletes, my aim was to try and keep with Tracey for as long as possible, as I’m only able to gage athletes to my left with my guide runner being on my right. However, I was a little star struck when the gun went off and Tracey was gone within the first stride. I maintained my composure and raced on with no idea where I was in the race and was pleased to discover that I finished third behind the two world class athletes and beat the other three athletes, two of which have run around the 15.5secs mark this year. To demonstrate the difference between Tracey and me, her being the number one Brit and I number two, she ran a phenomenal 13.43secs and I ran 15.30secs! After the points were worked out I remained in third place and got a nice quality bronze medal to accompany my gold. I really don’t know where I’m going to find half a second from by the end of August though!

The 200m took place on the Sunday and I was up against the same athletes. This time I knew I would struggle to finish third, as four out of the five other athletes had run quicker than me over the distance this year. Drawn in lanes one and two, I had no chance of knowing where I was in the race. I knew I had taken the bend far too slowly, but for once we sustained a good arm rhythm and I desperately didn’t want to mess that up, as it feels so awkward when it goes wrong. Coming off of the bend I picked up the speed and the arm rhythm was lost for a couple of strides, but regained again and I stormed down the home straight, knowing that I must be a million miles behind. My guide runner confirmed to me afterwards that I was dead last coming on to the home straight, but I made up two places and was quickly closing down for third place, but ran out of metres. I clocked 32.93secs a good seven tenths quicker than the Wednesday before and creeping closer towards my PB of 32.35secs. I’m pleased I’m progressing in the event, but know much more improvement is needed.

Good points to take forward:
1. I’m only 9cm short of the B standard in the long jump
2. My 200m time is rapidly improving
3. I am now able to sustain a longer drive phase
4. I’m getting better at running around the bend
5. I didn’t let the fact that I was left for dead by Tracey impact on my performance
My next race is in Stoke Mandevil on 30/31 July.

Who needs 20:20 vision when you’ve got 2012 vision!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sight Village 2011

QAC Sight Village is held annually and is a large exhibition of products and services for the visually impaired. I attended the Birmingham event, but it is also held in Manchester and London. This was my second time going, as I last went in 2009. There is a blog post about that buried in this blog somewhere with no useful label to locate it!

The first time I went I got a little bored, but this time, I wish I had more time to explore and absorb. The place was packed with people and Calvin successfully found every single Guide Dog in the building to greet, but I have to say, I didn’t come across a single friendly GDO, as they all seemed really narked by Calvin’s bright eyed, helicopter tail hello. I know Calvin is easily distracted, but surely he’s not the only Guide Dog to be attracted to other dogs in harness!

Anyway, here’s my opinion on some of the products and services I came across...

Vibrating Glasses:
I can’t remember the proper name of these glasses, but they are RNIB’s new favourite gadget to flog. The glasses are supposed to detect over head objects and should be used in conjunction with a cane or dog. Priced around £80 they are reasonable for a visually impaired product. However, they made me cringe, as they look like the stereotypical blacked out, dark glasses some visually impaired people choose to wear. The vibration on your face isn’t the most comfortable and whilst they vibrated I found I moved my face to avoid the object, but my body didn’t follow, so effectively I was still in danger. Testing them in such a busy environment probably wasn’t the best idea, but they don’t get my vote.

Ultra Cane:
All new and improved, oh and double the price too, now costing £635. The electronics have been moved to the inside of the cane for protection and any previous folding issues have been resolved. It practically appears to be like a normal white cane, but the handle is a little bulkier with two vibrating pods. The top pod is for over head objects and the bottom for obstacles directly in your path. I found that after a couple of minutes I was able to walk freely without bumping into anything by responding to the vibrations. It is much more specific and accurate than the glasses and less obvious that you are using specialist equipment. If I was still a cane user, I would look at investing in one. They can be loaned or paid for in instalments and even better come in pink, blue or yellow, as well as the traditional white. I love my pink cane!

Offer free audio books on a memory stick or mp3 cd. Previously, I paid for a Talking Books membership with RNIB to get some of my literature books for uni, but will no longer be doing this, as there is a free service.

Vision Hotels:
I’ve been to the ones in Bognor and Teignmouth. A group of us want to go to Bognor again, but the hotels are no longer just for the visually impaired and there seem to be less discounts too. I was trying to find out how we could get a good deal, but all they could offer was 10% off if you have a RNIB membership or if you book 3 months in advance. This would still cost quite a lot. Previously, we paid £99 for 3 nights half board. I find it strange that they are not encouraging the visually impaired to go.

Are a pretty good charity, I went to Berlin with them in 2006 on the International Computer Camp, which was a week of activities with other countries from mainly Europe. They had a kids zone and Calvin and I got our picture taken on a green screen. I wanted it to be him on his own, but he didn’t sit still. We chose a beach backdrop, which gets super imposed on afterwards. Check out Look’s Outlook Youth Project for people aged 9 to 25 years old, I keep meaning to get involved!

Guide Dogs:
I went to there stand, but nobody spoke to us, they all just stayed sitting at their table not doing a whole lot! I saw Delphie doing a demo in the sports arena, he was the dog I had a demo walk with two years ago. I watched the demo for a little while, thinking what a false advert that they were giving. The crowd were all commenting on how amazing Delphie was, but I was so tempted to try Calvin on the obstacle course and show more realistically what type of dog you’re likely to get! I’m not sure it’s very convincing when a sighted person is demonstrating too.

Overall, it is a great exhibition to attend, to get in the know. I’d definitely recommend it.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


I can’t believe it has been two weeks since I was in London for the weekend. Time is flying by lately! It was great being back in London for an extended period of time other than for a MoorfieldsEye Hospital appointment. At one stage in my life, London was like a second home to me. Getting off of the train with Calvin, I quickly realised this was the first time we had travelled there solo. I didn’t have any assistance booked and spent a while trying to figure out which way the mass crowd were going for the exit. When you’re in London, you don’t feel like you stick out like a sore thumb, as everyone is so interested in getting to places than stopping to stroke your dog or ask if you’re ok. I love that! Once through the barriers I met Beth and her new Guide Dog Connie who is a German shepherd and a little bigger than my BFG. Oh yeah and Connie is classified as a ‘fast’ dog, the quickest walking speed a Guide Dog can be, Calvin is a ‘quick mod plus’, but this meant we had to get our skates on a little. I’ve met Connie once before, so had a chance to practice my power walk before hitting the capital.

On the Saturday we went to watch the afternoon performance of Wicked in the West End. I was supposed to go the year before, but cancelled at the last minute so I could go to an athletics competition instead, surprise, surprise! I was concerned that because our seats were up in the heavens that I would find it difficult to concentrate with not being able to see the lights and thought the sound wouldn’t be very good, but in fact I could see glimmers of light and the sound was amazing. There was certainly no room for the dogs to join us, I could hardly fit my legs in the gap and I’m 5ft 2”! The dogs were left in a good sized room to relax/run around like wild animals! The musical overall was enjoyable, although I could see where they were trying to be funny and I didn’t always crack a smile. The storyline was also a little confusing, probably because I didn’t realise the Wicked Witch wasn’t really wicked!

On the Sunday we went to watch Glee Live at the O2. Again the dogs were left with staff members, but we didn’t get to see the room and apparently they were taken on a walk by the river, which I’m not sure they should have done, as there are so many rules you’re supposed to follow even when a Guide Dog is not working, such as walking on the left of a person, stopping at curbs and steps etc. Prior to Glee coming on stage there was a dance act for the support. I’ve never found something so dull in my life, the music wasn’t even great that they were jigging to! However, I realised how close our seats were to the stage, as without microphones I could hear them speaking. When Glee came on the atmosphere was electric, singing just as good as on the show and character roles sustained. There were video clips of Shooster and Sue on the big screen, which were amusing and The Warblers were there too and sang a few songs. The actress who plays Mercedes stole the show for me, I know she has a massive diva voice, but honestly listening to her hit the most complicated notes at the end of songs left me spell bound. I’ve been to a hell of a lot of concerts and I’ve never heard anything so incredible! The downside to the show was it was just over an hour long, so pretty short and sweet.

The next musical I’m seeing is The Sound of Music for my birthday. I’ve wanted to see this for years, as have watched the video and DVD a million times growing up!

Don’t stop believing!

Monday, 4 July 2011

I'll Get There...

So it’s now July and I honestly thought by now I’d have at least a PB over 100m. Looks like I will have to wait just that little bit longer.

Yesterday I was racing in Birmingham, as part of the Midland League for Charnwood, so a mainstream event. I knew I had no chance of being in the mix, but it was nice to be in quick races. The 200m was first and haven’t done one since May. I’ve got a new guide rope to try and prevent my veering and aid my general running. From start to finish the race was a disaster. The arm co-ordination was lost and I physically couldn’t run properly, I apparently stepped out of my lane, which doesn’t surprise me, as I was certainly not going around the bend smoothly and to top it off my guide crossed the line first. Despite all of this I wasn’t disqualified, as they lacked electronic timing, wind gages and photo finishes. The time came out as 34.7secs, the most shocking thing of that is I’ve run two slower times this year when I was actually trying! However, it’s a good two seconds off of my PB and a further four seconds off of the B standard for 2012.

I was more confident going into the 100m, but appear to have some issues with positioning my hands on the start line. The new guide rope means I have to make a fist shape, as opposed to the usual going up on to your finger tips. When I went into the set position, I found myself balancing on my knuckles on one hand and thought to myself what an idiot! The race was one of my best this year, feeling smooth and quick. I seem to have my strength sorted over the short sprint and certainly don’t fade towards the end. Therefore I was hoping for a nice time, but was given 15.3secs. This isn’t awful since my official season’s best this year is 15.29secs, but I still need to find a half second from somewhere to get to the B standard of 14.8secs.

Positives to take forward-
1. Hand timing is not accurate
2. I wasn’t out of breath at the end of the 200m
3. I felt strong over 100m
4. The new guide rope prevented me from veering over 100m
5. I didn’t allow the faster athletes to intimidate me
Going forward, as going backwards is not an option!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

June Injuries

I wonder when you’re an athlete, pushing your body to the limit day in day out, whether or not it is possible to ever be injury free.

Ankle – had a follow up appointment with the sports doctor after the injection I had back in March. The regular ankle pain has returned, but it hasn’t stopped me from running. The sports doctor suggested surgery, implying that I would be out for 6 to 8 months, a ridiculous suggestion if you ask me for bearable discomfort! I’ll wait and see what his letter says.
Shins – a cause for celebration, as they are practically cured. The orthotics seem to have done the job.
Calf – well not my calf, but sort of apparently the muscle is called your perennials or something similar, nothing to do with plants! Well that muscle is extra tight and difficult to loosen off, which has resulted in some locking of my ankle reducing movement.
Achilles – Some discomfort has returned due to the above, as it has been too painful to do my rehab work.

You don’t always get what you wish for, you get what you work for!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Olympic Disability Discrimination

My blood is boiling! From being excited about having Olympic tickets finally, I’m now livid at the discrimination London 2012 are showing to people who are disabled, but do not require a wheelchair.

Thankfully, in a previous post about Olympic tickets I linked to the disability information, which has been updated since the original post. There is a link to book blue badge parking, as well as the form to apply for a free carer or companion ticket. Ticket being the important word and not tickets! You are only allowed to apply for one extra ticket per application despite the fact that both my brother and I are visually impaired. The discrimination occurs, as wheelchair users were able to specify how many wheelchair spaces they required and so would have got a free ticket per space. Other disabilities were only able to advise of their additional needs, which assumed you could only have one disability, for example, you couldn’t select both visually impaired and hearing impaired!

I called London 2012 directly to see what could be done, but was told the same information. They have advised me to call back on 8 July when my payment has been confirmed. I intend to write an email of complaint, so my concerns are in writing. So was I expected to make two applications? Were my family not expected to sit together? Are groups of disabled people not allowed to attend the games together? Why wasn’t this information made clear before?

People wishing to apply for a free carer or companion ticket have until 31 July to do so and will be informed by 31 August whether or not their application has been successful. If unsuccessful, applicants have the opportunity to request a refund by 30 September or just keep the tickets they have.

The Ticket Care Scheme claims it is ‘inclusive and accessible’!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Olympic Seconds

They say three is a magic number...

On Friday morning at 6am people who were unsuccessful at obtaining any tickets for the London 2012 Olympics were given what the organisers called an ‘exclusive opportunity’, to purchase tickets that did not sell out in the first round of sales. Instead of a lottery style draw, this time tickets were on a first come first serve basis, where applicants could only apply for three sessions and submit a single application. Prior to what was named ‘frantic Friday’, a list of what events were still available including price bands was published. The date I originally applied for was completely sold out, but I was relieved to see that a few athletics sessions had limited availability, as previously it was expected that it would be totally sold out.

I analysed the list and planned to apply for –
Friday 3 August – 2x tickets at £150 – opening morning of the athletics
Monday 6 August – 4x tickets at £65 – these were the cheapest left for athletics
Tuesday 7 August – 4x tickets at £95 – the session includes the men’s 200m heats and so the chance to see Usain Bolt

You may have noticed that on two of the sessions I planned to purchase four tickets instead of two, based on the fact that I have little faith in the Ticket Care Scheme where if you are not in a wheelchair, then free carer tickets are subject to availability. It was for purely financial reasons that I only went for two at £150.

Being blind and needing to use a screen reader to access the London 2012 ticket site, I was always going to be at a disadvantage to non disabled fans. The site is fully accessible, but you are always going to be slower when you can’t use a mouse or have a quick glance at the page and see where you need to be. I also feared with the site being busy that my screen reader would slow down and crash. The night before sale day, I logged onto the site and had a practice run where possible, finding out the quickest way to get to places and how to search with the fewest results on screen.

My alarm went off promptly at 5.30am and I was ready to go. I logged onto the site at 5.45am, signed in and prepared my search filter, ready to press submit at 6am sharp. This was fine and I selected my first ticket selection to be greeted with a message of ‘sorry we are unable to process your request at this time’. This unwelcome message appeared a few times, along with another stating that there was high demand and you should wait for the page to load. I never waited though and retyped the web address back in, knowing my tickets were saved in my basket. I think many people got caught out with that one. 33mins later, I had my 3 sessions selected and had a confirmation email sitting in my inbox. I felt I had done well and couldn’t have done it any quicker or better.

It was an agonising 48hr wait, but yesterday I discovered that I would be charged £306 between 4-8 July, as I had been allocated 2x tickets at £150 for the opening day of action. My third choice of event overall.

Now the news has sunk in, I’m excited to have some tickets and glad that I wasn’t one of the fifth teen thousand to be unlucky again. Apparently some sports sold out within the first fifth teen minutes of sales and knowing how popular athletics is and the fact that I took double that time, I’m really lucky.

However, I’m now going to have to make a third application, as I need two more tickets to ensure that my entire family can go. This means I’ll be putting the Ticket Care Scheme to the test and will find out whether I can get the two free carer tickets my family are entitled to, as my brother and I are both visually impaired. How I make this application, I have no idea, I don’t trust London 2012 to contact me first and will be researching of how to do this once my payment has been taken and tickets confirmed.

They say three is a magic number...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Baby Steps

Since the last time I blogged I have had two competitions. Another Charnwood Open and a Parallel Success event (the important one for qualification). I can take good and bad from both of them.

The first I only did 100m, as I’m officially allergic to 200m after my -8.1 head wind encounter! I managed 15.29secs, which is an official season’s best performance, just 0.07secs off of my PB.

The Parallel Success event was part of the Welsh Champs and took place in Cardiff. I first did the long jump in the pouring rain, which I had no motivation for and on my final jump managed 2.87m, an increase of 9cm on my PB. I was slightly worried at one point, as I jumped 2.74m three attempts running, consistent, but frustrating! I needed to jump over 2.93m to move up a rank in the world, so was a little disappointed not to achieve that. On the bright side I’m heading in the right direction towards that 3.30m and it was only my second attempt.

The 100m didn’t really go to plan, as I had an awful start, followed by my inability to run in a straight line. I don’t know what it is with me lately, but I just can’t go straight! The minus wind didn’t help matters either, I’m not sure what it was, but other races varied from -2 to -4.5. Due to the bad start I was chasing all of the way and if it was a 101m race I would have won! I lost by 0.01secs, note to self, I need to learn how to dip or stick my chest out! The time came out as 15.90secs, I was just glad it was under 16secs.

1. I ran a season’s best
2. I got a PB in the long jump
3. I didn’t tighten up when I was losing
4. I felt strong despite the minus wind
5. In better conditions I would have jumped further
I’m next racing for Charnwood on 3 July, can’t believe they have asked me to run for the club, they really must be desperate!

I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday!

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Test of Time

On Saturday I went to my friends’ wedding. They have been together since I met them in year 10 at school, so since we were all 14 years old! It’s rare in this day and age to hear of teenage sweethearts, but shows how love can stand the test of time. Not only has their love survived, but their friendships too. The best man (who happens to be my first ever boyfriend) and the maiden of honour (who I met when I was about 8 at summer play scheme and then our paths met again in year 10) have been best friends with the bride and groom since playschool! It was also refreshing to see friends from school since we finished our A Levels 5 years ago now.

Believe it or not, I’ve never been to a church wedding before and found it an interesting experience. I didn’t know you had to stand up for so long and at one point thought everyone is surely sitting downand I’m standing up like a muppet! I didn’t know all of the words to the hymns, but some came flooding back from primary school. Then in the parts where you say ‘amen’, I didn’t know whether to join in or not since I’m Muslim and not Christian. Something like that never crossed my mind at primary school though and I was probably the loudest back then reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

When standing outside of the church with Calvin whilst photos were being taken, I was finding it hard to control him. People weren’t even saying hello to him and he was jumping on them, I cringed every single time, hoping he hadn’t spoilt their outfits! It was like we were playing a game, every time he stood up, I said sit down. He was so interested in all of the people he literally couldn’t sit still for 5 seconds! However, the worst part was when someone threw a ball. I have no idea where this ball appeared from, but it happened twice. Calvin’s retriever instincts kicked in and I had no chance. I gripped his lead as firmly as possible, but the diamond lead he was wearing for the special occasion ripped the skin on my hands, which bled and are still killing me! I lost count of the amount of people asking me whether he’s trained or not!

I took Calvin home for the reception, which meant I had some peace, settled to be guided around all night by whoever was willing and danced for hours. Sometimes when I was dancing I was certain nobody was near me, but I carried on anyway! I’m slightly concerned that I can’t remember all of the moves to Steps 5, 6, 7, 8, but I redeemed myself with Superman!

Building on my last post about fashion, I was taking fashion to its limit! I wore a bright orange shift dress, pink smart jacket and the most amazing pink wedges, as they have Velcro straps! All bought from River island. If you’re not aware, orange and pink don’t normally go too well, but I assure you I looked great and felt great!

Here’s hoping one day it will be me walking down the aisle!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Olympic Disaster

Last night marked the point where the majority of people who applied for Olympic tickets would know how successful they have been based on the amount withdrawn from their bank account. The official deadline isn’t until 10 June, but word has it, if you’ve not heard by now, you may as well give up hoping.

Just to remind you, I applied for one morning’s session of athletics, tickets priced at £95 the second highest band, I thought I would have a good chance. I also applied for only 2, in the hope that I could then request 2 further free tickets. However, with 20 million applications and only 6 million tickets up for grabs, it’s not entirely surprising on reflection that I’ve been left empty handed.

What I find most disappointing is that I eat, sleep, breathe and live for athletics. I’m a huge fan of watching it and have been for years. Then I also compete, knowing the enjoyment it can give. Yet a lottery system deems that I don’t deserve to watch the greatest show on earth! I didn’t want to watch any finals, which I knew would be oversubscribed, just a few 100m heats and witness the blade runner make history!

This also demonstrates that the disabled Ticket Care Scheme is a disaster too. How on earth are they expecting to offer free carer tickets which are subject to availability, when 14 million people have already been rejected tickets?!

Those who are unlucky, like myself will have priority on applying for resale tickets, but this does not include athletics, swimming or cycling, the three biggest events. I don’t want to see anything else!

In a striking contrast, when tickets for the Paralympics go on sale in September, they’re literally giving them away in a bid to fill seats! 50% of tickets will be £10 or less and this includes a free travel card for the day, which costs around £7 these days!

Great Britain’s greatest failure!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Dressing in the Dark

I have very strong opinions on how visually impaired people should dress despite not being able to see. Reading a post on Jenny’s Guide Dog Blog about Keeping Up Appearances inspired me to write a post on the same topic.

Ok, so it’s very easy to think that just because you can’t see yourself why on earth do you need to make an effort?! People with this perception honestly break my heart and I don’t mean that in a satirical way! Everybody should take pride in their appearance because every man and woman should feel handsome or beautiful when they face the world.

Unfortunately we live in a society where we are judged on everything. The way we speak, move, look and breathe. Would you go to a job interview dressed in a tracksuit? Would you go to the gym in heels or a mini skirt? Would you wear a bikini in the snow? I hope not! These are some of the things we understand and accept to be ridiculous. I suppose when you are unable to comprehend colours then accepting that a rainbow jumper will look absurd with a spotty skirt is more of a challenge. However, it wouldn’t have to be a challenge if visually impaired people were educated, just as we are sub-consciously educated on what is appropriate at a job interview. Everyone should know that lines across make you look wider or if you have a long face like me, then a v neck just makes it look even longer!

I’m not saying we have to dress up to the eyeballs every time we go out, but we should at least been dressed in clothes that fit us properly. I’ve witnessed that lots of visually impaired people wear baggy clothes based on comfort, but I’m telling you straight, as I’m guessing nobody else has had the guts to, you look awful! You either look much fatter than you are, a general scruff or both!

Thankfully, there is a website dedicated to educating and enlightening visually impaired people on what to and what not to wear, useful tips on grooming and it’s not just for the girls! I’d love to write a blinkies guide to looking amazing, but I’m a bit busy trying to make my dreams come true, selfish of me I know! So, until I’m free check out Styleable’s Website

Be blind and beautiful!

May Injuries

Dare I say I’m on the mend?!

Shins – Have been causing the usual pain every time I train, but have been prevented from getting any worse with Ibuprofen Gel applied four times per day. Also, I’ve had my orthotics assessed and the extra arch support seems to have eased the problem.
Calf – Generally not tight, but on my left calf towards the outside of the leg I’ve had a tight spot. It doesn’t hurt to walk, but flairs up in training now and then. I’ve had a massage, but it still doesn’t feel perfect. It’s related to a tight hamstring and glut, but I can only feel the calf.
Hamstring – Never had a problem with my hamstrings until now. When I had the massage a knot was found and it’s felt pretty bruised since, which is a good sign!
Ankles – Seem to be doing ok, occasional ache, but no big deal.
Achilles – Definitely fine now.

All in all not looking too bad!

Dreams are made too big, so we can grow into them!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Doggy Diet

I’ve not blogged about Calvin in a while, mainly because I’ve not felt the need to! Now I’ve had my furry friend for a year and a half, there isn’t much new to blog about. Calvin is Calvin, the naughty little Labrador cross retriever who has the biggest personality and the ability to win everyone’s heart!

Labradors are known for their large appetites and Calvin is no exception to this trait of his breed. He loves to eat anything and everything! Sticks, stones, mud, other animal busies, his toys, wrappers, tissues, human food when he can get his paws on it, oh and doggy treats and doggy food go down nicely too. So, when his weight escalated to over 42kg, his maximum weight is 38kg, I wasn’t too surprised. However, a key contributing factor I believe is that Guide Dogs instructed me to increase his meals, as he lost allot of weight when I first got him.

For the past couple of months Calvin has been on a diet, prompted by me requesting a larger harness strap. I wasn’t too keen to change his food, as you hear about how they can get dodgy stomachs, but I wasn’t given much of a choice. The first food he was put on didn’t work very well, Calvin became a lean mean poohing machine, averaging on ten big busies per day! Calvin has always been clean on walks, partly due to the fact that he won’t spend on concrete for toffee when out, but the food meant he needed a big busy (he held it until we found a grass spot) on a half an hour walk. Logically, he was moved to a different food, which is really embarrassing to call up for. ‘is Calvin still on Obesity’? It always makes me want to say, ‘yeah, but he’s not fat’! The defensive parent!

I can only imagine that Calvin is finding this diet torture! He tries to make up for his lost calories with his instinctive scavenge reflex! It’s also been tough on me, as I have to bribe him with treats to get me to places, which I’ve tried to reduce, meaning we’ve gone on a few detours! So, after nearly two months of starvation, the dustbin on legs has only lost 3kg, meaning he still needs to lose at least one more to be at his maximum weight. Personally, I think he looks in great shape at the min, a really skinny dog would be rubbish for cuddles! Since I’ve been single for so long, Calvin often gets his ribs crushed and turns his head in utter embarrassment, like ‘mum, god get off of me’! It’s his fault for being so adorable!

So the doggy diet continues...