Monday, 31 December 2012


Yesterday I went to see Grease the musical at the theatre. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go or not, I love the film, but had previously seen it in the West End and remember not really enjoying it. My mum got me tickets for Christmas, probably because I kept going on about it, but I am glad she did!

The cast were excellent on the whole, although the actor playing Danny had a very odd tone to his voice, which I am not sure worked. The singing was faultless and the energy they created was immense. There were obviously some adaptations from the film, I especially liked the changing of the ‘blue moon’ lyrics to ‘moony’.

I definitely recommend people going to see it, although it’s a risky business interpreting such a classic.

Grease is the word

This isn't goodbye

One significant event that occurred this year, which I haven’t blogged about, is my favourite band in the whole wide world split up! Most people I know think I am sad for liking Westlife, but I am not really bothered!

Before this year I had seen Westlife in concert five times, it should have been seven, but once it clashed with a family holiday and the other time I had an athletics competition. So I had to give my tickets away. Knowing it would be my final opportunity to see them this year, I bought tickets for both of their shows at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham. People will say that is ridiculous because they sang the same songs, but actually they were two very different shows. The first time the boys were more serious and the second time they were fooling around most of the time, which was highly amusing.

I then saw their final final show live at the cinema on 23 June. It was a very different experience watching a concert at the cinema, the audience were confused whether to scream, cheer and clap or not. I would say I would have loved to be there in person, but it was chucking it down!

Westlife have produced so many amazing songs, some covers, some originals, all brilliant in my bias opinion! They are one of those bands who I would never tire of seeing in concert, they never disappoint!

The band were together for an epic fourteen years and I am thinking/hoping that for their twentieth anniversary that they will have a reunion tour. I mean that’s what all bands do now right?!

They have too many inspirational lyrics, but my favourite is-

You’ve got to fight for every dream (Flying Without Wings)

Monday, 3 December 2012

Young Columnist

RNIB’s Insight magazine, which I believe is mainly read by parents and those in the education sector recently ran a competition. Every year they advertise for a young columnist with a £50 prize and the opportunity to write four columns for the magazine. This year I decided to enter, I have a feeling that they have raised the age limit to twenty-five, as I am pretty sure I would have entered previously. I had an assignment due the day before the deadline, so I didn’t have much time to write a good piece. The 425 word limit was a killer. They said write about something you’re passionate about so I did! I’m fairly certain I am not what they are looking for though, but all entries will be posted on their website. Here is my entry...

Let’s Inspire...

This summer, we were all dazzled by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In a 288 strong Paralympics GB Team, 41 athletes had a visual impairment and competed across 7 sports: athletics, swimming, cycling, judo, football, goalball and rowing. The motto of the ‘greatest’ games ever was to ‘inspire a generation’!

I’m Selina, 24 from Leicester and proud to be Europe’s No.2 T11 100m sprinter. I have a rare genetic eye condition called Norrie’s Disease and whilst I had good partial vision when I was younger, it gradually deteriorated, so since the age of 18 I have just had light perception. Despite training for years and being ranked highly in Europe, I was not selected for my dream games, but can honestly say I still found them amazing!

I was lucky enough to attend the first morning of athletics at the Olympics and watched 3 mornings of the Paralympic athletics live in the stadium. I was also privileged to have had the opportunity to race against the best in the world on the track back in May at the Paralympic Test event. I know all of these experiences have inspired me to continue in my sport, but I fear that visually impaired participation will not increase.

I attended mainstream school until after my A Levels and then spent a year at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC). In both, mainstream and specialist education, I had mostly negative sporting experiences.

At primary school I volunteered myself for the cross-country team and remember falling over in my first race. This would have deterred most 7 year olds, but thereafter the school got a Year 6 boy to run alongside me, which worked well. At secondary school where my sight was more limited, I recall feeling embarrassed when I couldn’t hit a tennis ball back over the net and ran around with a hockey stick with no purpose. Eventually I stopped doing PE altogether. At RNC, I was able to use the gym, but there were no opportunities to participate in Paralympic sport other than goalball and football if you were male.

If visually impaired children are subjected to these negative encounters then it is unlikely that they will want to pursue sport even for fun, or perhaps they are inspired by the games, but are never presented with an opportunity to try Paralympic sport.

Now the London 2012 Games have done the inspiring, I hope the education sector can do the implementing!

Sport doesn’t care who you are, anyone can take part!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

F1 2012

Last weekend saw an epic climax to the F1 2012 season. The rain in Brazil really shook things up and caused so much drama that I lost count of the amount of times my heart was in my mouth! Unfortunately, whilst Alonso drove magnificently, Vettel was crowned the youngest triple world champion. That’s three times in the last four years that my team, Ferrari have lost the championship on the final race. I think I am still traumatised from 2008 when Massa clinched the title, only for it to be lost again in a matter of seconds, again thanks to the rain in Brazil.

Massa had a disappointing start to the season and I wondered whether his time was up at Ferrari. However, in the final few races I began to see signs of the old Massa back, the incredible driver before his life-threatening accident. I would even go as far to say he was driving better than Alonso in the last couple of races, but was the perfect team player and did everything in his power to try and help Alonso win the championship. With both Ferrari drivers back on form, next year is looking very promising!

This year saw the great seven time world champion Michael Schumacher hang up his driving helmet for the second time. I always remember his amazing final race from his first retirement, he didn’t win, but came through the pack with some unbelievable passes. This time the only thing I will remember is him moving aside for Vettel, as he wanted his fellow German to win the title. I was disgusted!

Talking of ex-Ferrari drivers, it was brilliant to see Raikanan back on the grid. I love his no-nonsense attitude! Looking ahead to next year, you just know it is going to be another thrilling season after eight different drivers won races this year.

F1, go, go, go!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

3 Years

Friday marked three years since Calvin and I began our partnership together. It honestly feels a hell of a lot longer though. Now, I don’t have enough material to have a week dedicated to Guide Dog posts this year, in fact I was even concerned I wouldn’t have enough material to write a single post, however, I should have known Calvin wouldn’t let me down.

He still makes me laugh on a regular basis, such as storing his toys on the radiator in the living room, which is ideally placed under the bay window, so at a low level for him. You often hear him clawing at the radiator, as he puts his tennis balls or other balls on there, which fit snugly in the slot, so he struggles to get them back out. After a while he will come over and put his chin on my lap and give me the saddest puppy dog face going, so I have to go and help him get them out. He never learns from his mistakes though. He also amuses me when he wants to play ball. A normal dog would drop the ball when you say give so you can throw it for them. Calvin wants you to throw it for him to, but when you try and get it off him, he teases you by moving his head at the last second, so you can’t get it or smacks your hand away playfully with his paw!

Calvin is still keeping me on my toes and our most recent incident, involved me fishing myself out of my local brook! We were walking along happily, when Calvin’s pace picked up and tail started wagging excitedly, which always means he’s spotted another dog. We came to a small side road, I think it’s actually the entrance to something, so he stopped at the curb as he should. We proceeded to cross, but so did a man with his dog, which he said was a puppy, as if I cared and Calvin lost concentration, as he insisted on greeting the other canine. I was dragging him away, as he ignored my commands to continue and found myself standing on a grass verge when we reached the other side of the road. I know there are grass verges each side of the path and since Calvin was still ignoring my commands to find the way, as he looked longingly back at the other dog, I guessed, judging by the traffic that I needed to go left to get back on track. However, I obviously guessed incorrectly, as the next thing I knew, splash, I stepped into the brook, thankfully, which wasn’t very deep, around knee height. It took a split second to register what had happened, I didn’t even know the brook began there, I thought it was further up where it is barred off. I found myself still gripping Calvin’s lead who just stood at the top staring down at me, with an expression of confusion I’m sure. I heard the man with the dog come rushing back who must have heard my yell of shock and was offering his help, but by the time he reached me, I had already hoisted myself back out. He was like I’ll help you back on to the path, I just wanted to tell him to leave me alone, as Calvin began to play with the other dog again! I was disorientated afterwards and just walked for a while not noticing where I was, trying to get over the shock. I totally saw the funny side, but was lucky not to get hurt and not lose my phone, keys or sat nav out of my pockets. Eventually I must have come back down to earth, as the sat nav announced a road leading completely in the wrong direction to my house. I’m not even sure how I got over there, as we would have definitely had to cross a few roads. I walked home in a daze, hoping my jeans didn’t look too bad, it was raining at least, so I had a reason to be a bit wet! Calvin manages to surprise me yet again!

With regards to his work in general, in September, he decided that he no longer sits at curbs and chooses to stand instead. He has tried this a few times in the past, but I have always had to make him sit again, as he would cross roads without stopping. He has managed to master the art of stopping at curbs now, most of the time, so I am letting him get away with it. You hear lots of stories about Guide Dogs getting arthritis in their back legs from having to sit all of the time hence why I am letting it go. Some dogs now are trained not to sit at curbs at all anyway.

Thanks Calvin for three thrilling years!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

VICTA Weekend

It has been a long time since I met new people and went on a trip for the visually impaired. When I was sixteen, I had my first experience of meeting other visually impaired people properly when I went on a Spanish Exchange with RNIB. The year after I went to the International Computer Camp (ICC) in Berlin with Look. Both international experiences were amazing socially and brought a whole new side to me out, a confident me. After ICC I started RNC (Royal National College for the blind) in Hereford and so was surrounded by the visually impaired on a daily basis. I was supposed to attend VIEWS in Paris with Look the following summer, but pulled out, as I doubted my independence levels. Thereafter, I was in a relationship with another visually impaired person for over two years and to be quite honest without going into details, wanted a clean break from the VI world. I however, did not detach myself completely and have been going on holidays with three close VI friends for the past few years, which I have previously blogged about.

I never really intended to delve into the VI world again, but an event on Face Book intrigued me. A friend shared an event from the charity VICTA Children who I had never really heard of before and they were running an eighteen to twenty-five year old weekend in March. If nothing else the activities were to my liking and the fee nominal, so I thought even if I didn’t like the people I would be able to enjoy myself. Nevertheless, I pulled out, as I always put my athletics first and had Talent Squad training on the same weekend. They were running a second weekend in October so I transferred to that instead.

I was quite apprehensive about going, as the thought of meeting new people was daunting, I convinced myself only those with no lives would attend and I had no idea if VICTA as a charity were any good or not!

Thankfully, I was met at the train station, as promised and Calvin was delighted to discover he had a playmate for the weekend, Fliss. Calvin is never nervous about meeting newbies! The first thing one of the participants said to me was that they recognised me from the documentary ‘Blind Young Things’ and my heart sank just a little bit, remembering that I was quite well-known in the VI world for that and worried that everyone would have a preconception of me.

We arrived at the accommodation and had lunch where there were lots of awkward silences, whilst I secretly panicked about the mischief Calvin was causing running around like a loon and thought I would never find my way around what seemed a complicated building, only because it was unfamiliar of course. We were shown around the building in pairs and I pretended I had mastered the layout in my head, yet in truthfulness felt quite baffled, but didn’t want to convey my weakness! We had an ice breaker activity in the afternoon and somehow I found myself in group one, so on cooking duty for the evening meal. It wasn’t as bad as I feared though, I only had to open a few cans of tomatoes!

After dinner, the awkward silences continued and we all declared how sleepy we felt, simply because we weren’t really interacting with each other! One of the volunteers suggested a game of Trivial Pursuit and I was quick to count myself in, as the competitive me came flooding out. This is when I began to enjoy myself, the mood was light hearted, conversation flowed more easily and the time past much faster. Before then, it was going to be a very long weekend!

On Saturday morning the first activity was canoeing. I had only tried it once before, so was looking forward to doing it again. On the whole it was fun, accidently and on purpose splashing each other, the only downside was the bitter wind. In the afternoon we did crate building and despite my ten thousand layers was still cold so managed to bag myself the instructor’s jacket! Crate building was pretty good, you are harnessed up and stack the crates on top of each other, climbing as you go until you fall off, run out of crates, you can’t build any higher or people find it funny to knock the stack down with you on top! After that we did a dissent, which is like the zip wire, although instead of going horizontal you go vertical. Listening to others jump off first it sounded extremely fast and scary, but once I plucked up the courage to step, note not jump off of the platform, it really wasn’t too bad or fast. It does go faster the heavier you are, so I probably got off lightly! We had a takeaway that evening and amused ourselves with karaoke on the X-Box, which past the time nicely.

On Sunday morning, we were supposed to do rowing, but this got cancelled, so we did orienteering instead. My group lost, but we weren’t really interested in winning and to be fair most of the time was spent fishing Calvin out of lakes, cringing at what he was rolling and diving in and taking bets on who out of him and Fliss would win tug with branches! I was so glad that Fliss’s owner offered to wash Calvin for me, he was a real swamp dog! In the afternoon, we were meant to do caving, but they lost the key, it was a man made cave, therefore we just did archery. Nobody managed to hit the balloons on the targets and it was quite a bit of sitting around involving me moaning how cold I was and everyone offering me their jackets, but I manned up and declined! That night we had a pub dinner, which was actually quite tasty and spent the rest of the evening just chatting. It was commented that I was such a happy person, which amused me greatly, as my mum always gets excited when I smile on the rare occasion and then I realised on reflection, I had become that confident Selina who only appears on trips for the visually impaired.

I honestly had a brilliant time, it was so refreshing to meet new people, you obviously get on better with some people than others, but everyone was good company in general. As testimony to my nice time, VICTA are holding a Christmas meal/party next month and I have booked to go. Partly because I want to buy a new dress, but mostly because I am eager to have another great experience. Thank you VICTA and all the new lovely people I met!

Where does a horse put its bit?! (Trivial Pursuit)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Nicki Minaj

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Nicki Minaj in concert. The concert was enjoyable overall, but perhaps i’m not quite cool enough to appreciate her fully!

I love her hits like Starships, Pound the Alarm and Super Base and even like some of her naughtier stuff on her Pink Friday albums. However, although I know she is a rapper by trade, I wasn’t prepared for the vast amount of hard core rapping. What made me feel even more out of place was that the crowd seemed to know all of the words to these raps that I had never heard of in my life!

I found I had a similar experience with one of the support acts Tyga. Personally, I had never heard of the bloke before, yet the crowd were mad for him and filled in the pauses in his songs. I’m definitely not down with it!

The other support act was Misha B and since she was from X Factor was more on my level. I thought she was great and proves that these reality shows can dig up some great talent, even if the public don’t vote for them to win.

Overall it was a good experience, I don’t think i’ll be rushing to see her again though, sorry Nicki!

When you know you are great, you have no need to hate

Final Year

I am finally in my last year of my English Language and Literature degree with The Open University. After being on track for a First, the final assessments (OES) on my last two modules, A215 Creative Writing and E301 The Art of English, dropped my marks from a 2.1 to a 2.2 for each module. This means I am now on course to get a 2.2 classification despite scoring Distinctions on my first three modules. I didn’t expect to get Distinctions this time, but thought I would end up with at least 2.1s, as my actual assignments were in that region throughout. What’s more frustrating is that I was happy with my final assessments, which are worth 50% of your grade for the year, so I have no idea where I went wrong. My final module with the OU is EA300 Children’s Literature and whatever I score on that will determine my degree classification.

A215 Creative Writing
TMA 01 77%
TMA 02 76%
TMA 03 78%
TMA 04 82%
TMA 05 78%
OCAs 78%
OES 57%
Grade 3 Pass

E301 The Art of English
TMA 01 59%
TMA 02 76%
TMA 03 84%
TMA 04 85%
TMA 05 80%
TMA 06 74%
OCAs 78%
OES 60%
Grade 3 Pass

Success is never final and failure is never complete

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Operation 15

A couple of days after I got back from holiday, I had my fifteenth eye operation. Surprisingly, it had been six years since my last eye surgery, how time flies. When I was younger, I got so used to having operations that the surgery never scared me, but the needle always did. Gradually, my needle phobia got worse and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t help getting hysterical about it, it’s so embarrassing. People always think it’s the pain of the needle that frightens me silly, but that’s a load of rubbish, I can take pain. It is the fact that the needle is in me, in my skin, in my body that freaks me out.

Since it had been a while since my last eye operation, I was quite anxious, especially because for the first time I would actually be awake for it. The surgery was to remove calcium build up on the front of my cornea, which had been causing me immense eye pain. The build-up is a result of having an oil bubble in my eye, which once held my retina in place, now it just keeps my eye from shrinking and preserves it until technology advances.

Today is Halloween, so I thought I would share this story that sent shivers down my spine and might well do yours. Please stop reading if you would prefer not to hear about my eye operation in gory detail!

I arrived at Moorfields Eye Hospital and went up to the day surgery clinic. It was basically a corridor of old people, some of whom had already had their surgery and others were waiting. There were no beds, just rows of chairs and to find a free seat was a challenge. The nurse checked my blood pressure and was alarmed to read that I would be awake for my operation, as she thought usually people having my surgery were put to sleep. This made me feel a little iller, perhaps it wasn’t minor surgery after all. I was sent downstairs to see my consultant who marked my left eye with an X, just to make sure he operated on the correct eye. That part always amuses me.

I then had a long wait upstairs, the nurse kept coming to me for different reasons, I was waiting for the anaesthetist to pay me a visit to explain how my eye would be numbed, but he never came. Eventually, the nurse came with a wheelchair and told me to get in. She didn’t explain that it was time for my operation and feeling panicked to where I would be going, you tend to panic more when you can’t see I find, the tears began to roll down my face. My mum asked if she could come with me and the nurse replied comically ‘why?’! My mum followed anyway!

I’m not too sure why I couldn’t walk to theatre, maybe the nurses aren’t trained in guiding people, so I rolled up in this wheelchair. There were lots of medics in theatre already and were all asking why I was upset. I’m sorry was it just me who was aware that I was about to have my fifteenth eye operation at the age of twenty-four and on top of that I was going to be awake for it! Of course I didn’t blurt that out, as much as I would have liked to.

They seemed surprised that I didn’t know how my eye was going to be numbed and weren’t too sure themselves. Apparently, sometimes the operation could be done with numbing eye drops, which filled me with relief until they said that wouldn’t work for me with my minor nystagmus, meaning I wouldn’t be able to keep my eye still, so they would have to inject my eye. Oh my god, I could have died, why didn’t the ground open up and swallow me! I was going to have to have a needle in my eye, in my eye, in my eye!!!

They offered to put me to sleep instead, but this still would involved a needle, so I turned them down, as I had eaten lunch and wasn’t in the mood to be throwing up afterwards. I can’t believe some crazy part of me agreed to have a needle in my eye! Argh!

Apparently it is inconvenient to cry when they are trying to stick a needle in your eye, which was most annoying, so I had to divert to making caveman noises, grunting here and there. The injection took an age, it stung horribly, despite having the numbing eye drops. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably afterwards, even when they wheeled me into the next room. They attached me to a heart monitor and I couldn’t count the beeps on the machine they were going so fast. I smiled to myself every time the machine made an odd noise, jumping or sounding a sort of alarm, as if I was about to go into cardiac arrest like you see on Holby City. I knew I was clearly freaking out.

If things couldn’t get any worse, they placed a sticky sheet over my face, which had a little cut out area for my eye. If I wasn’t already struggling to breathe normally, this wasn’t helping. The surgeon went to begin and the first prod hurt, as if I was being stabbed with lots of little needles. The numbing procedure hadn’t worked, my eye wasn’t numb because it had only just occurred to them that I had lots of scar tissue from previous surgery. Therefore, they had to pour lots and lots of drops in my eye, which infuriated me more because they were leaking all over my hair! This meant I had to focus on a light throughout the surgery to keep my eye still. When you only have light perception, this is a tough task. They kept having to tell me to focus on the light, as my mind was drifting thinking why on earth am I letting them do this to me.

Although I could no longer feel what they were doing, I could hear every scrape they made, as they scraped the calcium off of my cornea. It sounded like they were scraping paint off of a window and sent shivers down my spine like when somebody scratches a blackboard. They put a contact lens bandage on my eye, as a barrier whilst the skin grew back and was meant to reduce the pain. Totally traumatised, the whole thing lasted around an hour.

As I said, this was my fifteenth eye operation and previously, after retina surgery, I got so used to having it, I didn’t need pain killers. After this surgery, I was allowed home a short while afterwards. I was desperate to lie down, yet there were no beds. I had to travel on the tube back to the car and then had a two hour drive home. The pain slowly increased. I lay on the back seat of the car in agony with my eye oozing non-stop. As son as I got home I downed some pain killers and ate something. However, it wasn’t long before I was throwing up, I think from the sheer pain, it was unbelievable.

My eye hurt all week and until I had the contact lens bandage removed the following week. I would love to say I’m now cured and the trauma was all worth it, but my eye is still playing up from time to time, which is just my rotten luck. I have a follow-up appointment in January and if I do need more surgery, I’m definitely going to make sure they knock me out!

Happy Halloween

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


There is an in joke with all of my friends that I’m always cold, but to be perfectly honest nine times out of ten I am! In the summer when it’s warm enough to be in a t-shirt by most people’s standards, I can normally be found with a jacket on. This is why each year I have to get away for some serious sunshine.

It was all quite promising to begin with in Corfu, nice large holiday complex, two pools and on the beach, but after a couple of days the skies turned grey. We arrived on Monday 10 September and by Thursday evening we all got drenched legging it back in flip flops from reception to our room, which was about a good ten minute walk.

So on Friday the rain continued along with thunder and lightning, we decided to take the hotel shuttle into Corfu town, as did the rest of the hotel. You couldn’t book a place on the fifty seater coach and a couple of hundred people were waiting for it. You could see the Brits forming an orderly queue, but I assured my parents that the French and Germans aren’t really into being polite with these sorts of things, so we joined in the barging to get on. When we arrived in Corfu town it was heart sinking to find that there wasn’t just one big shopping mall where we could stay dry and shop at leisure. Therefore, we spent the day getting drenched yet again and didn’t really buy anything either. We arrived back at the hotel in the early evening where there had been a power cut, fallen trees and things set on fire. Very alarming!

Saturday morning was cold and dull, but no rain, so I trained on the beach and my parents played tennis. They always play tennis on holiday. By the afternoon it was raining again and I was declaring it one of the worst holidays ever!

Sunday brought some hazy sunshine, which meant some relaxing by the pool, but it wasn’t long until it gave way to the rain again. The locals were all delighted, as there is a water shortage on the island and they hadn’t seen rain for four months. However, I found it challenging to share in their joy!

Thankfully, the final day was hot once more and judging by the weather over here at the moment, I’m guessing that was the last I’ll be seeing of the sunshine this year. Overall it was a mixed holiday, I’m not sure there is much to do in Corfu, but as I said the hotel was nice.

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The London 2012 Paralympics

Wow, wow, wow!!! Wasn’t it just brilliant?! I knew I was always going to enjoy watching it, but for the whole of the country to get behind the games was just amazing and exceeded expectation. I had tickets for three mornings of athletics, one set were given to me by UK Athletics and the other two sets I bought previously, as I wanted to watch what would have perhaps been my events. When I wasn’t in the jam packed stadium, I watched the athletics on Channel 4’s Extra platforms either at home or my coach had it on his laptop running whilst I trained. It was very surreal watching so many athletes I’ve raced and know, it honestly filled me with pride.

Team GB were exceptional and the level of competition absolutely phenomenal. It’s pretty clear that China rule disability sport, but that is understandable with a disabled population of sixty million! I came to quite enjoy listening to the Chinese national anthem, it’s catchy! I am really pleased that the next Olympics and Paralympics will be in Brazil though, not only because it’s hot, but because they already have an extremely strong Paralympic Team, so you just know that they will put on a great show too.

Going back to the standard of competition, in the T11 100m, not only was the world record broken and now stands at 12.01secs (set by the same girl I raced in May at the Paralympic Test event), in the heats five girls went sub 13secs right before my eyes. I have only just managed to start running sub 15secs consistently with a hell of a lot of hard work. It made me think for a split second that I can’t compete with them, but then why can’t I?! I don’t really know what makes them so much better than me, but I intend to work it out.

Last year I had a go at long jump, but gave it up after finding I was unable to run in a straight line consistently. To my surprise, when in the stadium watching the men’s F11 long jump and women’s F11/12 long jump, I discovered neither can any of the other totally blind athletes. So maybe I’ll pick it up again. My best was 3.21m off of seven strides, the others were doing double the amount of strides and jumping around 4m, which I don’t think is out of the realms of possibility for me at all.

I have to admit it was a bit gutting at times not competing, yet at the same time it has fuelled my hunger for success. I so desperately want to do what they were doing.

Channel 4 did a good job at hosting the games and I seriously hope that there will be coverage of the world champs next year, as well as extensive coverage of the next Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

Sport doesn’t care who you are, anyone can take part!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

London 2012 Olympics

I have to admit building up to the Olympics, I was getting sick and tired of hearing about it, but as soon as it began I was hooked! I firmly feel that London did indeed deliver and Team GB did so too.

I found the opening ceremony a bit random in parts, I’m not sure I understood it entirely never mind the rest of the world. I do love the entrance of all of the participating countries and hearing about places you never knew existed. Since there was no athletics until the second week of the games, I found myself engrossed in the swimming, rowing and cycling, sports I never usually care for.

On Friday 3 August the athletics started and my family and I were lucky enough to have tickets for the morning action. We were completely the opposite side to the 100m straight, but placed quite nicely by the high jump and to the right of the 400m start/finish. We saw the likes of Jess ennis, Dai Green and Christine Ohuruogu who all received amazing receptions when introduced to the crowd. Some people may not find heats interesting to watch, but I think I could have lived there every single day, as the atmosphere and action was just epic.

Come the closing ceremony it was quite sad it all came to an end so fast, although the one off appearance by the Spice Girls was pretty special, a real hair brush moment!

65 medals for Team GB, third in the medal table, amazing! There were so many memorable moments, I would be here all day writing, so I won’t bother this time.

Run faster, jump higher, be stronger!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Harry Potter Studios

Like so many people in the world, I am a massive Harry Potter fan. I began reading the books in my early teens and made sure I mastered Braille in time for the release of the final book after my sight deteriorated for the worst. I remember it took me about three months to read that final book and avoiding spoilers was a tough task, but somehow I managed it. I have also seen all of the films, the first couple I had some vision to appreciate the special effects and picture for real my favourite books come to life. So, when I heard about Warner Bros offering fans an opportunity to visit the Harry Potter Studios in Watford, I made sure I booked my tickets the day they went on sale!

My family and I went to the studios on my 24th birthday (on 20th July, argh I’m getting old). As we went into the entrance, there were hand imprints from the three main stars, Daniele, Emma and Rupert. I pretty much have the exact same hand size as Emma. This tactile introduction seemed promising for the rest of the tour.

We were ushered into a holding room where there were lots of posters from the films around the world and a short video from the film makers. We were then moved into a cinema area to watch another short film about the studios. Finally, you then get to go into the Great Hall and to my disappointment, the props were behind barriers. This is where my stretch Armstrong skills began, as I reached to touch the goblets and seating area. I knew it was going to be a long day!

It is really quite astonishing how many props and sets there were under a single roof, I only wish I had the opportunity to check them all out for myself instead of hearing about what I knew already existed. I thought riding a broomstick would be a nice interactive challenge, but in fact a lot of acting is required to make the experience worth its while! Halfway around you get to go outside and I was eager to taste butter beer. It was nothing how I expected it to be, but I did quite enjoy the taste unlike most who seemed to have a sip and leave it! Outside was better for me in general, as I climbed upon Tom Riddles grave stone (I don’t think you’re supposed to health and safety and all that), sat in the Weasley’s car, touched the giant chess pieces, climbed aboard the Knight bus, sat on the Potter’s wall and Calvin had a busy on Privet Drive (we were only supposed to be taking a photo by the sign)!

Back indoors feeling a bit more cheery and stretching once more to feel the goblin masks, one of the staff members finally took pity and let me go beyond the barriers. So I had a better opportunity to feel the goblin masks, spent far too long examining Robert Patterson’s life cast (he has a very appealing face to the touch and I’m sure to the eye) and felt some of Griphook’s costume.

Next we walked up Diagon Alley; the cobbles reminded me of Coronation Street, not that I’ve walked up there! Finally you get to the shop and I spent ages feeling each characters’ wand, which you could buy and they had showcased behind a glass cabinet in the tour. I would have liked to buy a souvenir, most likely the elder wand, only the prices were beyond silly. Poor parents were telling their kids perhaps they would like a postcard!

I’m glad I visited the studios even though 80% of it is visual. I should have known better.

You fail to recognise that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be (Albus Dumbledore)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Centre Parks

It does seem like an age since I updated this blog and have a long list of things I want to post about. Truth be told I haven’t been on the computer much lately, not needing to be on it for my uni work and with the sun peeking its head out for a few days, oh and of course there was the Olympics, I’ve just not felt the need to be online.

Anyway, shortly after Team GB was selected for the Paralympics, I went to Centre Parks with some visually impaired friends. The perfect retreat to take my mind off of things and to take a break from training. However, I was a little apprehensive about going, as I had never been to Centre Parks before and was concerned that the staff wouldn’t be very helpful, as more often than not people freak out when they see you have a disability!

I was definitely pleasantly surprised. On the Friday we went swimming and bowling. Swimming is one of very few activities that is free at Centre Parks. They have a wave machine, lazy river, which I think is more like a crazy river, hot tub style pool and several slides. I dared to go down a couple of the kids slides, but that tends to be my limit, I always manage to near drown myself with these things for some reason.

Saturday morning was rock climbing, which I have done several times before and really enjoy, as it’s one of few activities that I am a natural talent at! If rock climbing was a Paralympic sport, I’m fairly sure I would be the champion. The outside wall was quite tricky, but I managed to get up it no less than five times and not to sound boastful or competitive because that’s totally not in my nature obviously, but none of my friends managed to get to the top! That afternoon I had a full body mud treatment, which was different, yet my skin felt great afterwards and that evening we stuffed our faces with Bella Italia.

On Sunday we began with the zip wire and there was something quite petrifying about being told, ok now jump! I bet everyone gets that flash of seeing themselves plummet to the floor. The staff were really good about explaining about, which rope to throw away, unclip etc. After the zip wire, two of us did abseiling, which I was completely pathetic at! I personally put it down to being left handed and the only way to control the rope which lowered you down was with your right hand that apparently doesn’t know how to grip, so I kept sliding really fast. Feeling absolutely exhausted by this point since it’s around a half hour walk to each activity that afternoon I did the gladiator challenge, which took the meaning of challenge to a whole new level! It was split into two sections. The first side I went up was a simple ladder, only it swung, so it felt like I was climbing up upside down. I thought I was strong, I definitely didn’t feel it! The other side also swung, but not as dramatically and was a combination of beams, tyres, cargo nets and polls. The instructor was really good regarding explaining what was above me each time and eventually I got to the top and stood on the beam, I think it was a blessing that I couldn’t see how high up I was, as it felt pretty damn high!

Sunday evening was spent relaxing in the spa, which was a combination of aroma steam rooms, foot spas, hydrotherapy pool with sprays and sun loungers. Whilst there we got a free facial and did an Italian ritual, which resulted in covering yourself with ice, warming yourself back up in the sorna, more ice including a bucket being poured down my back, more heat, plunge pool where the instructor kindly pulled the rope to release the freezing cold water and then we finished with more heat. I can’t remember what it was supposed to be good for!

All in all it was a good trip, but unless I win the lottery won’t be rushing back anytime soon. The activities are quite expensive; I could have had a week abroad all inclusive for the same price! The staff are welcoming to disabled guests though and have an access bus to help get around the place if needed.

What you can’t see, can’t hurt you!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

50 Days To Go

Yesterday UK Athletics met to select the team for the London 2012 Paralympics and it wasn’t a surprise that my name didn’t make the list. My final two competitions were nothing less than a disaster, as on Wednesday my guide runner got stuck in traffic and arrived just five minutes before my race, which was extremely stressful and meant I couldn’t warm-up fully and then on Sunday the guide rope snapped halfway down the track. I clocked a disappointing 14.96secs on Wednesday and whilst I attempted to carry on running after the shock of the guide rope breaking on Sunday, I stopped before the finish, as I literally crumbled inside.

Whilst on Sunday I was fully aware that it was unlikely I was going to make the team, I was so determined to prove to myself and everybody else that I was capable of running fast. When the guide rope snapped, so did something inside of me, most likely the reality of the last four years of hard work coming to a bitter end. My eyes just started burning and the tears pouring, I wanted to keep my blind fold on so nobody saw, but took it off to shake the other athletes hands at the end who were probably all confused to what I was crying about. I really shouldn’t have shown my weakness in front of everybody including UK Athletics who I heard were pointing at me, I dread to think what they were saying. I just felt completely sorry for myself and unlucky yet again, which goes against everything I believe in. I was a total emotional wreck!

I’m totally over myself now though and focused on running sub fourteen seconds next year. There is a World Championships next year in France, but that’s not my main priority. I believe 2014 is the ultimate aim with the European Championships and Common Wealth Games where I firmly feel I can not only gain my first GB and England vests, but snatch a couple of medals too.

I’m sure there are people who think I’m setting myself up to fail yet again, but I know with the right team behind me I can reach my full potential. I have had eight guide runners in four years, but I am confident that my current one is in it for the long-term.

I’m still looking forward to watching the Paralympic Games and I hope everyone else will be getting behind our athletes too.

My new bio on my Face Book reads:
I can be found wishing upon stars, chasing rainbows and jumping over hurdles, determined to fulfil my dreams...

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Who Spiked My Luck?!

On Monday 18 June, I was having a great training session working on technician and execution. Towards the end of my session, the focus was on aggression, as I often rely on my guide runner to pick up the pace. So, it was important for me to do some runs on my own and inject some speed myself. However, on the first run when I injected the speed, I veered off to the left. I was instructed to go right, but perhaps reacted too slowly and clipped a cone. I elegantly flew through the air in a superman pose, spiked myself and badly twisted my ankle. The physio classified it as a grade 2 sprain, where grade 1 is the least damage you can do.

Despite my injury, I was determined to race in Wigan on Saturday 23 June. However, thanks to our Great British weather, the competition got cancelled the day before due to flooding. I was gutted not getting the chance to run, but then again it probably was a blessing in disguise, as my ankle still had some swelling and when I tested it out on the Thursday before was quite painful coming out of blocks.

It’s been 2 and a half weeks since I sprained it and it’s frustrating that I still don’t have full movement in it without it hurting. For example, it hurts to twist my foot inwards, I can’t cross my legs and I can’t kneel. Yet I’ve followed all of the physio’s advice, rest, ice, compression, thera band exercises, had some strapping, some ultra sound treatment, dosed up on anti-inflammatory tablets and even regularly put on anti-inflammatory cream for good measure. But it seems I have managed to sprain it good and proper.

Since Wigan was cancelled, this just leaves 1 qualifying race before Paralympic selection on 9 July. To make up for missing a race, I’m going to do the Charnwood Open on Wednesday to see where I am at. I think I’m just going to have to accept whatever times I run in the next 2 races, as my ankle is not fully recovered. Of course I’m going to try my best to hit that A Standard of 14.25 though.

I saw the quote for this blog post on my Twitter feed yesterday and it’s exactly how I feel –

Doing sports gives me a feeling of overcoming barriers, escaping difficulties and breaking through the darkness (Duan Li)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Consistant Racing

Now uni has finished for the summer, hopefully I can blog more regularly. I have raced twice since my last post, in Chelmsford on 26 May and in Birmingham on 2 June.

This was the week that it was summer in England with beautiful warm weather for racing. However, despite it being warm, I felt like my muscles were struggling to come alive. I was slow to come out of the blocks, slow to pass the other athletes and slow to get up to speed. I was therefore surprised to run 14.62secs, 0.01 faster than the Olympic stadium, all be it with a bit more of a following wind.

For the first time this year, I had no reason to avoid the 200m, although I did feel quite dehydrated by the time it got around to running it. I ran the best bend I have ever done before, most likely due to swapping my guide to my left so they can lead me around the bend. Nevertheless, after building up a strong lead, my legs began to go and my guide runner ignored our plan to kick at 50m to go, telling me afterwards he thought I was dead. I felt the other athletes come up beside me and had to kick by myself to the finish. The time came out at 32.29secs, 0.07 shy of my PB, best season opener, but it really should have been a big PB. But I did win in the end!

I only did the 100m in Birmingham, as it ran over two days and I needed to finish off my uni work. There was strong competition there and on paper I was third fastest. Nonetheless, I was gunning for the win. For the first time this year I got a great start, perhaps because that’s what we had been working on constantly the days leading up to the event! Then, I managed to make hard work of the second part of the race. I knew I was taking too many steps, not getting any air time, so kept trying to adjust my body, but failed. I was leading for most of the race and one athlete just shot by me to clinch the win. If only I had executed my race, I would have had it in the bag. Unbelievably, the time came out as 14.61, yet another 0.01 off my PB.

So it seems I can run 14.6 with a bad start, good start, head wind, following wind, no wind, hell any which way I like! I’m ready to run faster now though, it will be a killer if it’s 14.60secs next time!

My next race is on 23 June in Wigan and with many of the Paralympic athletes going to the IPC European Championships, it will be a pressure free race. Until then my training will be circled around execution.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

100 Days To Go!

Yesterday marked 100 days to go until the London 2012 Paralympics! If you’re not already getting behind our Paralympians, now is the time!

The final batch of Paralympics tickets went back on sale yesterday and whatever event or session you decide to choose, it’s bound to be a great watch!

The BT Paralympic World Cup starts today and is on all week from Manchester. It showcases some of the top athletes, including public favourite Oscar Pistorius, over a range of different sports. Watch it live on Channel 4’s website or catch up with their highlight packages. Athletics is on today, so don’t miss that!

Then every Saturday ‘Road to London’ aka That Paralympic Show is on Channel 4 around lunchtime. They introduce you to all the sports, the classification system and who to watch come the games in an entertaining magazine style programme.

London 2012, the final countdown!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Races, Theatre, Concert, Turin

Oh I have been so busy recently; I have had hardly any time to breathe hence the neglection of this blog. Not only has my time been taken up with competitions, training and uni deadlines, but I have also managed to squeeze in a trip to the theatre, music concert and a few days in Turin, Italy!

Right, I guess I better start at the beginning, do stay with me though, as I have good news to report!

So I went to Gateshead! I saw 90s American boy bands Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block in concert. Whilst I wasn’t familiar with all of the songs from both bands, on the whole the concert was enjoyable. It did seem to last forever and I got to touch one of the guys from New Kids! Don’t ask me who, I don’t even know any of their names!

Then on Sunday 29 April I raced. What did I say about Gateshead being my favourite track of all time?! Maybe I should re-name it my most memorable track of all time! I don’t know what came over me, everyone gets butterflies before a race, but this time my butterflies decided to decorate the car park! I threw up less than an hour before I was due to race. I have no idea how I managed to warm-up, never mind race, I just felt so weak and my stomach was throbbing. Somehow I still ran 15.03secs, I was honestly expecting something in the 16s I felt that bad! On the bright side the wind was illegal again, so even if I did manage the Paralympic standards, they wouldn’t have counted. I pulled out of the 200m.

Before my next competition, I went to see Avenue Q at the theatre. Somebody told me it was like an adult version of Sesame Street and I would agree that is an accurate description. There were a combination of puppets and humans in the show. It was the funniest show I have seen in a long time and definitely would recommend people seeing it. Beware of the adult humour though!

On Tuesday 8 May it was the biggest competition of my life! The Paralympic Test Event at the Olympic Stadium! I couldn’t believe who I was racing when I saw the start list, the current T11 world record holder from Brazil, the T11 world silver medallist, also from Brazil and the T12 world champ Libby Clegg who I know anyway, as she trains at Loughborough too. Oh and then there was me! It was like a Paralympic final, only I was in it! The nerves were definitely flowing from the night before, but I knew I just had to run my own race. The whole experience is something I will treasure forever. Warming up on the Olympic warm-up track was amazing in itself. To think in just a couple of months the top athletes in the world will be preparing for the races of their lives, just as I was. It was quite a warm day by British standards, but I was thankful I was outside; otherwise there could have been a repeat of Gateshead!

I had to go to first call-up about an hour before my race. Then after all of the admin checks, you have a long walk in what felt like a tunnel to the final call-up area. When I say long walk, it really is a long walk! In the final call-up area, there is a 60m indoor track, which you can use for a last minute warm-up. As soon as we stepped onto the track all of my butterflies just flew away. I don’t know why! Perhaps because one of my favourite artists Katy Perry, Part of Me was blaring out of the speakers. I decided to have a bit of a jig, whilst my guide runner set up my blocks and stripped down to my kit. Even though we were outside, I felt like I was indoors. There was no breeze and think because the stands circle all around it gives an enclosed effect. Being in lanes one and two, I was the first athlete to be introduced to the crowd. I will never forget the pride I felt when they announced ‘in lane one representing Great Britain is Selina Litt’! Then there was the cheer! All for me!

The actual race is a bit of a blur. I reacted to the gun, but can’t remember noticing any of the other athletes, I think they were just gone! I felt strong within the race, comfortably managing to go with my guide runner’s injection of pace for the first time in a race. I crossed the line and distinctly remember feeling nothing! I didn’t feel happy, I didn’t feel angry, as often am after a race criticising aspects straight away, I was just blank. I had done it, I was living the dream. It was 2012, I was in London and I had just raced the best athletes in the world at the Olympic stadium.

As we walked off of the track, they announced the times. The other girls all ran sub 13secs, to give you an idea of their sheer class. And in 4th place, Selina Litt, 14.63secs a big old massive PB! Never mind that, well within the Paralympic B Standard of 14.80secs. Finally, I can say I have a Paralympic qualification standard! I proved to myself that I can perform when it ultimately matters.

The day after the Paralympic Test Event I flew to Turin, Italy. It wasn’t for a holiday, but in order to be eligible for Paralympic selection, you not only have to run the times, but you need an IPC classification. Before Turin, I only had a National classification to say I am a T11 athlete. There has never been an opportunity to get classified in Britain, hence the need to go abroad to get it confirmed that I really can’t see! I won’t bore you with the shamble of the event and will skip to the fact that I am now officially a T11 athlete. All of my IPC performances hereafter will appear on the world rankings, which I can’t wait to see my name on the list!

Then yesterday, I raced at the Leicestershire and Warwickshire Champs. I was disappointed to find when I arrived that the electronic timing had broken, so whatever time I ran would be invalid for Paralympic selection and the world rankings. So I did the 100m and pulled out of the 200m, anyone would think that I’m avoiding the 200m this year! Another illegal wind meant the lack of electronic timing was irrelevant, but I was pleased to run 14.5secs. It was a surreal race, the second of the week, as two of my ex guide runners were in it too!

So if you’re still with me, my next race is in two weeks on 26 May. For the first time ever, I’m feeling content with my running. I feel like I’m finally achieving and I know that I’m running well. Don’t get me wrong there are still a thousand and one technical issues that could be improved in my races, but it is all coming together. It just goes to show that a combination of hard work, determination and belief pays off.

I believe in believing, dreaming and achieving!

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Season Has Begun

Amazingly, it’s only April and I have had three races already. I say races, maybe competitions is a better choice of word.

On 1 April I entered the Nottingham Open. Nottingham is my least favourite track, as it is always windy, but wanted to get a race in before an official IPC one, which would count for Paralympic selection. Anyway, it was probably a good idea that I did this, as the guide rope slipped out of my hand, not once, but twice! So I didn’t post any times, which was frustrating at the time. I made sure that the guide rope was made considerably smaller so it doesn’t happen again. Now it is a bit too tight, squashing my fingers every time I wear it, but I’m satisfied that it will at least stay on my hand!

14 April was my first opportunity this year to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympics at the CP Sport Grand Prix in Grantham. The weather wasn’t the warmest and slight panic ensued when the starting blocks needed to be built from scratch in time for the race, but I was ready to smash it nonetheless. Unfortunately, when the gun went off I immediately drove out my blocks to the right and found myself running in a zig zag down the track, which obviously is the wrong way to try and run a fast time. I knew immediately that I hadn’t run well and the time came out as 15.35secs with an illegal wind, meaning even if I did run well the time would have been invalid for Paralympic selection. Last year I was averaging around 15.2, 15.3secs for 100m, but the amount of training I have been putting in I didn’t expect to see the 15sec mark again. I decided to pull out of the 200m and save myself for a race the next day.

On 15 April I did the Charnwood Open at my local track. It was much more relaxing warming up indoors and in a familiar surrounding. Despite reacting poorly off of the gun and technically feeling messy, as for some reason I doubted my ability to go with the pace my guide runner was setting, I ran a legal PB of 14.96secs. This still leaves me 0.16secs shy of the Paralympic B standard, but I know I am definitely capable of getting it in the next race. Besides I should be happy that I have run a PB so early in the season, I usually don’t manage one until August and don’t start competing until May!

My next race is in Gateshead and historically without fail I have run PBs in both my 100m and 200m every time I have competed there. So it’s looking good for Sunday 29 April!

Run for your life, you’ll get there in time!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Music Madness

I have been meaning to update this blog for the past couple of weeks, but have been busy with either assignment writing or training. Since I last wrote I have seen JLS in concert, Legally Blonde the Musical and Steps in concert.

27 March JLS:
This was the second time I had gone to watch the boys in concert and they did not disappoint. Singing all of their hits, along with a hint of Usher, I found myself dancing most of the night. What made the show even better, not necessarily for me, as I obviously can’t see, but they entered the arena in the middle, so everyone could get a good view. After that they walked through the crowd to the main stage. Most artists would then remain on the main stage, but the boys travelled across the arena back to the middle stage via a triangle flying thing, ensuring that everyone who had paid to come and see them got their money’s worth. Again not necessarily good for me, but our seats were directly opposite the middle stage, so an ideal spot.

2 April Legally Blonde:
I quite liked the film Legally Blonde when I watched it years ago, but wasn’t expecting the musical to be amazing. I was pleasantly surprised, as the songs were catchy, lively and sang to the highest standard. The show was funny and a musical I would definitely recommend going to see.

11 April Steps:
Admittedly I didn’t see the band perform the first time around and wasn’t the biggest fan although I liked their songs. When my school friends said they were all up for going, I thought I might as well join them for a bit of 90s pop cheese. The show was pretty good, but found that they did stay in the 90s mostly, excluding H having the opportunity to have a male dancer, that would have never happened ten years ago. They sang all of their classics and each member did a solo performance. It was all very cheesy as expected, but a good night out.

My next concert will be McFly on Sunday and my next musical Avenue Q next month. I do enjoy going to concerts and musicals!

You only get one shot, so make it count, you might never get this moment again!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Birthday Boy

Today is Calvin’s 4th birthday! He’s growing up so fast! He’s been spoilt rotten with an edible birthday card, a beef bone, 2 personalised large towels, a squeaky carrot and a cuddly tiger. Yes I have become one of those weird people who celebrates their dog’s birthday!

I haven’t really got much to report about Calvin, but one thing I’ve noticed about him as he’s gotten older is that he’s more confident. He’s not a shy dog anyway, however, when I first got him growling and barking was a rarity. He isn’t a serious growler or barker now or anything, however, he’s become more protective of his territory. It never fails to amuse me when he growls at a stranger coming up the drive, then as soon as you open the door he forgets he’s supposed to be big scary Calvin and wants to play happy families with whoever is there! Sometimes he sees other dogs walk by, cats or birds teasing him or random people passing by and he’ll begin to growl and bark. He will then stop, race to grab a toy and continue the growls and barks. I just can’t grasp why he thinks he looks more intimidating with a soft toy in his mouth!

Happy Birthday Calvin, you’re just as good at being a Guard Dog, as you are a Guide Dog!

Sunday, 11 March 2012


My third Creative Writing assignment was poetry and surprisingly I scored a solid 78%. One of the prompts for the assignment was ‘sport’, so naturally I wrote three poems circled around athletics. The first is a simple limerick, the second about my current situation and aspiration, whilst the final one describes a sprint race in animalistic words. I don’t think I’m the next Blake or Wordsworth, but enjoy!

An Athletic Limerick
There once was a sprinter who ran fast,
She was so quick, she never came last!
She won every race,
Finishing first place,
Expectations she did surpass.

Red, White and Blue
I have a dream, ambition, fantasy -
Aim, desire, goal, need to succeed,
I wish to represent my country,
But there are hurdles in between.

Time tic tocs away by the second,
My faith rises and falls like the sea,
I have to represent my country,
So I push my body forcefully.

A simple task, just to run fast,
That’s all that’s required from me,
If I want to represent my country,
Performing when matters, is the key.

My fate is in the hands of strangers,
They’ve been watching me secretly,
Will I represent my country?
Only they, can be the author, of my destiny.

Wild at Heart
Poised like a panther, set to pounce on its prey,
Tense as a tiger, snatching forty winks in the day,
PANG goes the gun, shoots a flock of birds away,
The herd is released, full speed, no delay.

A villainous hiss seeps from their ravenous jaws,
Driving full force, unleashing the claws,
As a bull sees red, charging with cause,
The creatures gallop, hurtle, fly and soar.

Now at top speed, eyes bulging like a toad,
With a face of a lion whose in ferocious roar mode,
Hands web like, duck feet to wade through the load,
As the battling beasts sniff the end of the road.

Visions narrow as the prize is in sight,
Jelly fish legs, the torso gets tight,
One final push akin to an elephants might,
The pack cross the finish, a flash of great white.

From giraffe to rhino in a blink of an eye,
Sweat dripping, heart racing, blood pressure high,
They catch their breath like zapping a fly,
Then the mammals reflect, letting out a deep sigh.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Wanted

Last Thursday was my brother’s 26th birthday, scary! To celebrate I booked tickets ages ago for The Wanted at Birmingham’s LG Arena. Even though we all know it’s really The NEC!

After a two hour journey thanks to lots of traffic and my dad deciding to avoid the M6, we arrived as the final support act were finishing off. This wasn’t really a big deal, as I had a tip off that the four support acts weren’t all that anyway!

The Wanted came on at 9pm and for some reason I was expecting them to be out of tune. So I was quite surprised when they sounded pitch perfect! They sang all of their hits, songs from their second album and even threw in some Coldplay. The highlight of the concert for me was when they magically appeared at the back of the arena and walked through the crowd. The disabled seating at the LG is a little raised from the floor on the side and is just a single row. My mum promptly dragged my arm over the front of the seating area and I got two high fives! My mum assures me that these were from the curly haired one and the one that goes out with Tina from Coronation Street! I have never known a band to do this before and thought it was a nice personal touch.

My brother loved dancing the night away, my dad was slightly alarmed by the screaming girls and my mum complained a little that they didn’t really dance and just pointed! Overall, a good night was had by all!

My next concert is on 27 March, when I see JLS for the second time!

We can rule the world someday, somehow...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

200 Days To Gooooooooo

So the countdown continues and the London 2012 Paralympics is growing ever closer! The slogan for both the Olympics and Paralympics is ‘impossible is nothing’, which is an ethos I’m relying on to be accurate!

However, last week I received some exciting news, as an invitation to race at the Olympic and Paralympic stadium popped up in my inbox! The competition is taking place on 8 May and is the official Paralympic test event for athletics. I’ve been selected to represent Great Britain in both the T11/12 100m and 200m. I’m thoroughly looking forward to the experience, an opportunity to not only run fast against an international field, but to acquire a taste for what it will be like to compete in the actual Paralympics.

Whilst I’m 110% motivated and determined to succeed, to assist my psychological state of mind, last month I bought some wrist bands. Not just any wrist bands mind you, they are Team GB London 2012 ones, red, white and blue. Since having them, I’ve not taken them off, as they are a constant reminder of what I’m aiming for. Perhaps that sounds a little bit cheesy, but who cares!

Finally, I need to do a couple more thank yous, as the support for my Paralympic campaign keeps on flooding in! So, a big thank you to-
The Thirteenth Club
Leicestershire Tennis Club (my dad’s club)

The sponsorship is much appreciated!

Crossing fingers, touching wood, that everything turns out the way it should!

Friday, 27 January 2012

A Short Story

As you may know, one of the modules i'm studying at the moment is Creative Writing, as part of my degree. My second assignment entailed writing a short story of 2000 words. I personally find it cringe worthy and i'm not sure why I deemed myself qualified to write a Romantic story when i've been single for well over two years! Nevertheless, I scored a solid 76%, so can't complain. If you fancy a giggle, have a read!

One More Time
Despite it being a sunny afternoon in July, the sea was in turmoil, as the waves crashed against the Cornwall cliffs. In a quaint cottage nearby, mountains of boxes overflowing with memories circled thirty-five year old Sally Smith. It had been ten years since she had instructed that her belongings should be sent to storage. Now back in the country, her past was scattered before her eyes. Kneeling on the cold wooden floor, she felt her heart skip a beat, as she placed a trembling hand on a familiar, but now slightly crushed shoe box. Taking a sharp breath in whilst sweeping her fingers through her long curly blonde hair, she paused to consider whether she was ready to revisit the most important thing she left behind. Concluding that she had to face her demons at some stage, Sally blew the dust off of the battered shoe box and carefully removed the lid. A musty smell met her nose, as the contents hadn’t been disturbed for years. It was all there, she had kept everything from him, her first and only true love. Draped delicately at the top lay the napkin with his number written on in blotchy black ink, which he had purposely left on a table in the Cliff Top Cafe where she worked during her time at university. Slowly lifting the napkin to her lips, the memorable scent of coffee engulfed her nostrils causing her powder blue eyes to glaze over, she couldn’t believe she had given him up. Tears of regret streamed down her cheeks, as she sifted through the memoirs that lay dormant for a decade. Amongst the items; a cd of their song, valentine’s day cards, love letters and poems, tickets from their first cinema date and photographs of happy times. One particular photograph caught Sally’s eye, capturing them hand in hand at his brother’s wedding. Everybody said that they would be next. Letting out a deep sigh, Sally studied the picture more closely, smiling at his handsomeness and her youthful glamour. If only she hadn’t been so career driven, she taunted herself. It was totally her fault that they weren’t together, six years she allowed herself to throw away, just like that.

A little while later, the glow of the sunset shimmered through the open window situated behind Sally who could still be found sitting in the same place, reminiscing by re-reading all of the old cards, letters and poems. Mixed emotions filled her heart, as she laughed and cried at the keepsakes. Suddenly, the napkin grabbed her attention again, as the open window behind her let in a gust of wind. The snow white napkin fluttered elegantly across the floor, performing an intriguing dance. A teasing thought crossed Sally’s mind, as she pondered whether he still had the same number. Oh it was a crazy idea, the chances were a million to one and what on earth was she going to say to him if he did! He must despise her anyway or if not he’ll definitely be married by now and even have children. Sally kept toiling with the idea and based on the fact that the number would most likely no longer be in use she decided to give it a quick call.

Sally’s stomach jolted with shock when the phone line began to ring. She crossed her fingers tightly in the hope that if he answered, he wouldn’t immediately hang up when he discovered the caller was her.
‘Hello...’ his crisp voice filled her ears, he sounded exactly the same. ‘Hello...’ he repeated, as Sally froze with panic.
‘Tom?’ she found herself whispering in a shaky tone ‘it’’s Sally’ she blurted out.
‘Sally who?’ Tom replied blankly.
‘Sally Smith’. There was silence. ‘Tom? Are you there?’ her voice shook with fear.
‘Are you ok?’ he asked with serious concern.
Relieved at this caring response, Sally relaxed somewhat and the ex-lovers talked about what had been happening over the past ten years. Sally explained how she was back from teaching in Africa and Tom relayed how he got married, but now was getting a divorce after his partner fell out of love with him. Eventually, it was agreed that they would meet up the following Saturday for old time’s sake, which excited, yet petrified Sally both at the same time.

Saturday morning arrived and The Cliff Top Cafe was bustling with a combination of tourists and locals. Sally was surprised when she entered that the same candy striped table and chairs occupied the cafe. Peering around the room there was no sign of Tom, unless he had considerably altered his appearance or aged so dramatically that he was no longer recognisable. Spotting a vacant table in the far corner, over-looking the sea, Sally pushed her way through the crowd to claim it. Now all that was left to do was wait.

Every time the cafe door jingled, Sally’s head shot up to see if it was Tom. After fifteen minutes of waiting, she started to become agitated, fiddling with the straps on her crimson coloured summer dress. He must just be running late she assured herself, he’ll be here in a second. Twenty minutes had gone by and Sally found herself torturing herself, thoughts of a no show must be revenge on her leaving him or he must have taken a single look at her and walked straight back out.

Half an hour later, Sally’s gaze was transfixed on the ocean, watching the waves gliding in and out of the bay. A warm hand touched her shoulder. Startled, Sally jumped out of her skin expecting to turn around and finally see his face again.
‘Excuse me dear, a gentleman has just asked me to give you this’ came the voice of the elderly waitress who had worked in the cafe long before Sally did, yet didn’t acknowledge that she remembered her.
Sally screwed up her face in confusion and took the napkin she was waving around like she was holding the tail of a dead rat. A single word was scrawled on the napkin ‘Sorry’. Without thinking, Sally scraped back her chair that screeched loudly causing heads to turn and the elderly waitress to let out a tiny shriek. She leapt to her feet, tottering as quickly as she could in her six inch heeled sandals. She wasn’t prepared to let him go again, at least not without a final goodbye.

Standing outside the cafe, arms flailing, Sally scanned the surrounding area. She had no idea what Tom looked like these days. The cliff side was heaving, couples taking morning strolls, groups of surfers ready to catch some waves, families with small children admiring the beautiful view. Then she saw it, in the distance striding at speed away from her, a dark haired man in a red t-shirt and jeans. It was the walk that gave him away, arms motionless by his side, as if he was wearing a straight jacket. Sally always used to make fun of this identifying feature about him, joking that he was the spitting image of a penguin, especially on weekdays when he wore a suit for work. At present, she was delighted that he had a trademark walk and began to trot in his direction. The July sunshine made Sally’s hair stick to her reddened cheeks, her mouth felt dry and her dress clung to her skin. As the striding figure enlarged, Sally took a deep breath in and yelled over and over again Tom’s name, as if her life depended on it. He was still too far away and didn’t turn around.
‘Tom! TOM!’ she screamed breathlessly in a panicked tone. Finally, he stopped dead and twirled around to face her. There he stood, forty years old, but not looking a day over thirty. Six feet tall, medium build, and chocolate brown eyes that melted Sally’s heart sixteen years ago and was doing exactly the same today. Sally tried to get her breath back before stepping any closer to him and at the same time was trying to think of what to say, whether it should be something witty like ‘I don’t normally chase blokes down the street’ or something serious. Before she had worked it out, Tom started smirking, giving him those cute dimples, which turned into a hearty laugh.
‘What’s so funny?’ Sally demanded.
‘You, look at you’ Tom stepped towards her and flicked her curls out of her face, sparking a thousand butterflies to flutter around Sally’s stomach and her knees to buckle ever so slightly.
‘Sorry I didn’t come in, I couldn’t do it when I saw you, the pain of you know, when you left and never came back hit me like a ton of bricks’ Tom confessed.
‘No, I’m sorry, six months turned into a year and before I knew it, ten years. I guess being out there with those kids in those appalling conditions, blinded my judgement, all I could see was that they needed me, forgetting that you needed me too’ Sally broke down as she spoke.
‘You did what you had to do’ Tom said with understanding in his voice. ‘Fancy that coffee now?’
Wiping the tears from her face, Sally’s eyes lit up like a child at Christmas and a broad smile followed, as she nodded to signal her approval.

Sitting back in The Cliff Top cafe where it all began, Sally and Tom ordered coffee and cake.
‘Let me guess, cappuccino with extra chocolate sprinkles and a slice of Molly’s Marvellous Mud Pie’ Sally announced confidently, she would be stunned if he ordered any differently, as he used to order the same thing every Saturday, Tom was a creature of habit.
‘Well, I’ve got to keep sweet somehow’ he winked cheekily.
‘What are those cakes with glitter on? They look pretty’ Sally asked pointing at a cup cake on someone else’s plate.
Raising an eyebrow, Tom replied
‘you really have been out of the country for a long time haven’t you’.

Sally looked up from her latté and let out a giggle at the sight of Tom modelling a foam moustache from his cappuccino.
‘It suits you’ she sniggered. Tom frowned. Sally picked up a napkin from the table and leaned forward towards him. She gently wiped the creamy froth from his upper lip. Their eyes met and the pair stared at each other intently. Sally felt overwhelmed by this exchange and was waiting for the let down from Tom. However, instead he took her hands in his, his warm touch made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on edge, then he squeezed them tightly. Waiting anxiously, Sally was convinced her bubble was about to be burst. She closed her eyes too scared to face the dreaded words head on. At least she had the opportunity to meet him again and share another precious moment with him she thought. Maybe it was time to move on and start afresh once and for all. Without Sally noticing, Tom had lifted her hands to his lips and softly kissed her finger tips. Sally’s eyes flicked open in response to this affectionate action, witnessing the passion in Tom’s face. He still cared, after all this time and no doubt the heartache she must have caused him. How on earth did she give such a good thing up all those years ago and why on earth did she deserve a second chance. Processing these questions in her mind, Sally pulled her hands free from Tom’s grip and slumped back in her chair feeling perplexed. Lost for words the ex-lovers sat drinking in silence for a while.

The elderly waitress came to clear their table and gave Sally a look that she interpreted, as don’t let him go again, maybe she did remember her after all. Tom requested another napkin, Sally assumed for him to wipe the crumbs from his mouth. Yet, Tom unfolded the napkin so that it was fully open and skilfully started to twist and twirl it, licking his lips, as he did so, deep in concentration. A few seconds later he sniffed his masterpiece with a thoughtful smile, revealing those dimples that Sally adored.
‘For you my lady, I’ve missed you’ he said presenting her with the origami rose. Sally willingly accepted it, allowing it to tickle her lips, whilst her body flourished with glee and she felt like the luckiest girl in the world. She had been given a second chance at love. She wasn’t certain she deserved it, but was definitely going to make the most of it and never let the man she let slip away once, slip away one more time.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Calvin the Con Artist

Earlier this month Calvin had his annual visit from Guide Dogs, which I have to say I had to chase up, as hadn’t heard a whisper from them. It was due last November. Usually, because Guide Dogs tend to visit in the day, my mum is at work, but she happened to have an extra week off work after Christmas and so was home on this occasion. The trainer had barely walked through the door when my mum began to express her opinion on Calvin. She highlighted facts, such as when she sees other Guide Dogs that they are nothing like Calvin, as they are well behaved and not in their own little world and how he is a great pet dog, yet lacking in guiding skills. Don’t get me wrong, my family adore Calvin just as much as me, but similarly get just as frustrated. I could tell the trainer was panicked by this information, even though I’ve been saying the same thing since I’ve had him!

We went on a walk around the village with the trainer following in close proximity. Calvin did sniff here and there, walk me into the road once and went up a driveway, but this was outstanding work by his standards! The trainer did acknowledge that he does seem to ignore my corrections even when he is wearing a halty and I lift his front paws off the ground, as I tug him so hard. She suggested that I should bend down to him before correcting him and demonstrated this, much to Calvin’s disapproval who whimpered like a big girl! As soon as the trainer stepped anywhere near him after this, he acted all submissive. The funniest had to be when a slice of bread was deviously left in his track that he of course felt the need to gobble up, I correct him, no reaction, so the trainer came charging up to him and he tried to leg it, paws in the air claiming his defence, ‘I swear it wasn’t me!’ ‘what bread?! I didn’t see any bread!’ he was an absolute coward! Yet coming back to the correction, every time I did it, Calvin couldn’t care less, in short he isn’t scared of me at all!

The trainer came out again a few days later and I was determined to show Calvin at his worst. So we went to my local shopping area where there is a food court. I regularly find myself dragging Calvin across the floor, as he ducks and dives for loose chips under tables and chairs. To give you a picture, the seating area is in the middle and the various food places lined around the outside. Calvin’s challenge was to walk around the outside without deviating or getting distracted. He has never been able to do this, so I was confident he’d show his true colours! Little did I know that Calvin always finds a way of surprising me. I thought someone had swapped my dog without me noticing, as he walked casually around the seating area, not even clocking any food, focused on guiding me, even daring to navigate around the Costa tables, which stick out with no prompts. If only he was like that all of the time, I’d have nothing to write about, as he was faultless! Whilst I did admire that he can be an amazing Guide Dog, which I’ve always maintained he could be, I wanted to shake him! The clever sod knew he was being observed. Guess it’s similar to when people get audited at work and pretend to be perfect!

Following this revelation, Calvin was deemed fixed and awarded a thousand doggy points for being a star! Unsurprisingly, he’s gone back to his distracted ways and I currently have twofat lumps on my forehead thanks to Calvin allowing me to head but a door frame and clothes rail.

Calvin, one in a million, a love hate relationship!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Athletics Update

I can’t believe we’re already over halfway through January! At the moment I feel like I never get a chance to breathe. If I’m not training, I’m doing uni work and if I’m not doing either of those things I’m busy with Calvin, grooming, walking, playing, feeding, spending, it’s non-stop! Tonight however, I find myself with some free time on my hands, whilst Calvin gnaws on a bone and the rest of my family are out enjoying their social lives! So I can update you on my athletics.

Talent Squad Training:
On 7 January I went up to Manchester for a UK Athletics training day. This was the third in the series, but the first I could attend because of my previous guide runner issues. I’ve been invited to the training days based on the fact that I scored more than 650 RAZA points last season in competition. RAZA points are worked out on how close you are to the world record in your classification, the more points, the better you are.

The day was split into three sessions. The first was a talk on psychology, understanding the commitment required to become a top athlete and how goals should be achievable. Nothing I’ve not heard before. The second session was gym based and we did a variety of core work, which I felt I excelled at. The afternoon was a full on track session, 6x60m with walk backs, 2 sets. Every run was timed and we were separated into groups by classification. Obviously there were no other T11 athletes, so I was grouped with two visually impaired athletes who run without a guide and a T38 athlete, who I’ve never lost to in a 100m race. I was immediately disappointed with my performance when I was coming last in the runs, each and every one I was left for dead at the start. It wasn’t until towards the end that my endurance shone through, as I started to beat the T38 athlete. Nevertheless, I was frustrated that I wasn’t closer to the other visually impaired athletes who boast PBs around 14.5secs. I’m often told I’m too hard on myself, but with the amount of training I’ve been putting in, I was expecting more, I felt like I deserved to do better than I did. On the up side, it was a good opportunity to train with the people I usually race and who are of a similar speed to me. I just don’t do last very well!

The next training day is on 18 February and I hope I’ll be happier with my performance come then, but no doubt I’ll find some sort of fault! I look forward to it though, the social side was enjoyable.

On 5 January I did an hour long live interview with BBC Radio Leicester, on the Carl Cooper show. It was mainly related to my athletics, training, goals and the Paralympics, although more general topics were discussed too. I’ve done radio a few times now, but never live. The experience was a good one, I’m pleased to report.

I also need to do a few more thank yous, as despite my funding campaign being quite a while ago now, I’ve had further support. So a massive thank you to:
Keith Smith
Helen Lapidge
Thomas Estley Community College (my old school)
Westfields Tennis Club (my mum’s club)

I really do appreciate all of the on-going support.

Well that’s all for now, as ever I’ll leave you with an inspirational quote, nothing has changed for 2012!

Some people compare life to a marathon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter. Long stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments in which we are given the opportunity to perform (Michael Johnson)

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Paralympic Year!

2012. 2012! The year we’ve all been talking about forever has finally arrived. So, by the time I’m writing my New Year thoughts next year, my dream, ambition, aspiration, ultimate desire, my single wish, whatever you want to call it, would have either come to a bitter end or had a fairy tale ending. Whatever the result, I know for a fact that I would have done everything in my power to make it a reality.

As per usual it didn’t quite go to plan. I didn’t achieve any qualification standards for the Paralympics, I only ran a PB at the end of the season and I have had to change guide runners yet again. Talking of change, I’ve changed guide ropes and the side my guide runner runs on too. A positive to take away from the year has to be that I was more consistent with regards to the times I ran in competitions in comparison to other years.

I was pleased to score a third Distinction in a row at university, as I continue to work towards my English Language and Literature degree. Calvin’s still Calvin, enjoying keeping me on my toes. Other highlights of the year have to be going to Morocco, seeing Westlife, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry in concert, along with a girly weekend away in Bognor.

Well, I think it’s pretty obvious what the year will entail. Work, work, work! So I’m going to leave it there!

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and here’s hoping that 2012 will be magical for one and all!

If you believe it, you can achieve it!