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!