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!