CP Awards


mar09-007Here’s a nice picture of me presenting my mum with Coach of the Year at the CP Sport Awards a couple of weekends ago. Unfortunately the picture of me picking up my joint award didn’t come out too well, so I’ve posted some pics of me presenting some awards. Also, below are some cool shots of me training from about a year ago. I’ve started throwing for the first time since Beijing and it’s been going well, so I think I will be competing this season, starting in a few weeks time – I’ll keep you up to date.

Had a canny time at Blyth Valley’s last ever civic ball on Saturday night, despite it not being the total free bar I was hoping for. It’s still hard to believe that Blyth Valley isn’t going to exist, and I’m going to be a freeman of a borough that doesn’t exist – any boroughs that fancy a new freeman give me a shout.


Not that I’m desperate or anything. While I’m on about  Counsels and public stuff, I use the bus very often now and just cannot get my head around why when I’m standing at the bus stop waiting for a bus, people always ask if I want the bus that’s approaching. I know I’m a bit special and obviously would not have any idea which bus I want to get,  but seriously? It’s just another example of the generally patronising attitude disabled people have to face everyday.

At a Conference tomorrow, more crack later….

High Sheriff Awards Photos + Crack


sherrif2Here’s some pics of the High Sheriff’s Awards at Dance City the other week – courtesy of Gibert Johnston (www.gilbertjohnston.co.uk) – very well run event and I was happy to support it.

Excuse me while I spunk off over something that’s got me pretty wound up lately. It’s the football(soccer)/WADA stand off, and the fact that footballers are such clean-living and hard-working people that forcing them to sumbit their whereabouts 24/7 for drug testing is an invasion of privacy, but it’s fine for other athletes in sports where ‘there is a problem’. Haha god they’ve got some balls on them eh, how do they know theyhaven’t got a problem – there have been plenty of high profile cases over the years – particular of Rio Ferdinand jumping out of a window when drug testers came calling. This is just another example of a sport that’s getting too big from the very top to the very bottom, it is an arrogant sport that basks in its own popularity and looks down at everyone else, not interested in addressing or even admitting to its own very serious problems. Here is there most popular sport in the world, which week after week sets horrendous examples of bad sportsmanship, ill-discipline and disregard of authority. Now they are slapping down the world authority of doping (WADA), what sort of message does that send out to the millions of people who play football – ‘Keep on doing what you want, because no one can do anything about it’. I would love WADA to stand up to FIFA – any other sport would face expulsion from the Olympics – Like always though, I fear football will get its way.



And the Winner Is…

Had a pretty good weekend, on Thursday night I presented awards to young people at Dance City – The High Sheriff’s Awards. I did a short speech at the end of the awards, I spoke about some of the ideas that I wrote about in my ‘GOALDS’ post, and it seemed to go down pretty well which was pleasing for me so that I know I’m not just talking a load of rubbish all the time. I guess the trick to public speaking is to get the audience to buy into your ideas and to give them a sense of purpose and belief in themselves that they can take away and apply to their lives – I think I’m starting to get there.

Saturday night was CP Sport’s awards dinner and despite feeling fairly terrible, I spent a fair amout of time on the microphone much to everyone’s delight I’m sure. After handing out the Grand Prix awards, I was soon back up on main stage as a joint winner of the CPSport athlete of the year, along with Chris Martin – who also won silver in Beijing. It’s the 5th time I’ve won the award and its always a great honour. Me and Chris went on to do a question and answer session, which I started by saying I thought Beijing was crap ‘because I didn’t win’ – that got a few laughs. The highlight of the night for me – apart from the ’30 songs only’ DJ – was presenting coach of the year to my mum, Ros – or Rof if you’re the person who engraved the award – I nominated my mum and I was really happy she got some recognition for her dedication to the sport, and also for her great ability as a coach, which often goes unnoticed.


I’ve been thinking a fair bit lately, as I like to do, about my sport and my principals and about what I can pass on to others – This has been mainly inspired by listening to Frank Dick speak at the weekend, and his message that we all have a responsibility to help others and pass on the knowledge and experience we have to the next generation. As a level 1 coach I have for years tried to pass on my pearls of wisdom, but as I’m doing more and more public speaking I’ve been thinking about what I have to say that is unique to me and what I could call my Mantra – this is what I’ve come up with so far…


1. Goal – ‘The purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective’.
With everything in life we need a start point and an end point, goals represent end points. They can be big or small, long term or short term. From the quote above you see that goals give training a purpose, and objective, substance. They are what you should aspire to everyday of your life, you have to take responsibility for achieving them, they should always be in the back of your mind and you should dream about them to imagine how it would feel to achieve your end goal. Your end goal is the most important and other smaller goals will guide you there, it’s not always about how you fall, it’s about how you land. Whether you set your end goal or someone else, you have to buy into it, and believe in the idea of it no matter how ambitious it is – End goals should be set at the very edge of what your perceived capabilities are, ideally they should be beyond what you think is possible, because if you aspire to be better than you need to be to win then you could still win even if you don’t meet your goal. It’s very rare that people over perform so setting goals lower is effectively lowering your expectations. Set goals high, so even when you under achieve you over achieve.

2. Obstacles – ‘One that opposes, stands in the way of, or holds up progress’.
Planning is essential in achieving goals, having a programme setting out how you are going to get to your end goal is fundamental, but even more important is being able to cope with inevitably come your way. Obstacles can range from small things like getting stuck in traffic on the way to training, to big things like getting injured. I also include balancing your private life and training here, and mental issues like stress. To negotiate obstacle successfully in pursuit of your end goal, you must be able to adapt and change appropriately, you must also be constantly learning and seeking advice and help where and when it’s needed. You have to be prepared to make changes along the way, to admit to failings, to make different sacrifices, to do what you didn’t expect to have to do – you need to challenge yourself constantly, always asking questions and thinking what you could do better. Keep an open mind and expect obstacles so that when then come, you can deal with them confidently and calmly. You must know yourself well, know when it’s time to change, and when you should stick at it because you feel it’s going to come right. Your instinct will be right nearly all the time so long as your knowledge is good, when things go wrong, know the reasons why and don’t panic.

3. Attitude – ‘manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind: a negative attitude; group attitudes’.
Attitude is something only you can control, it’s not something that can be easily coached or past on. Having the right attitude towards training and competition is so important, if your attitude is poor then you won’t achieve your end goal. By poor I mean, an attitude that lets your focus drift during training, that you go through sessions half hearted, that you don’t take responsibility for your actions, that your don’t take an interest in learning and improving. Our attitudes are shaped by the experiences we have and the environments we are in, people are more greatly influenced when they are younger so it’s important young people get the right messages from a young age. Attitude is something that should be ingrained deep down, so that it is natural, an in-built trait that effect behaviour and thought process, with ambition clouding every thought and action, driving us to the end goal. Every training session should be seen as a step towards the end goal – nothing ventured, nothing gained.

4. Limits – ‘the final, utmost, or furthest boundary or point as to extent, amount, continuance, procedure, etc.: the limit of his experience; the limit of vision. ‘
Sky’s the limit, basically. Setting limits is something I avoid doing, whether physical, mental or perceptual, if you set limits you will ultimately work within these limits, and you won’t achieve your potential. Pretty much all perceptions are wrong, especially perceptions of ourselves – if we think we have no friends and no one likes us, we become depressed, stop talking to friends and stop going out. Same applies in sport, if you think you can’t do an exercise, you will fail it an eventually stop trying to do it. If you approach the same exercise without any negative thoughts and are persistent, you will eventually master it. Don’t let personal inhibitions dictate what you think you can and can’t do, let fate decide.. In terms of training volume, limits are needed to stop you breaking yourself by doing too much but limits should always be one the edge of your capabilities, but its important to know when to move limits on. In terms of performance, you should never set limits.

5. Deliver – ‘to do or carry out as promised: an ad agency known for delivering when a successful campaign is needed’.
The hardest part of achieving the end goal, to deliver the performance when it is needed under the most intense pressure. There are infinite ways to fail but only one way to succeed, and if you think about any of the ways you could fail then you are doomed. You have to be strong of mind, and well practiced, well rehearsed, any doubting thoughts will kill you. It’s important not to think at all, not about the consequences of failing, neither the rewards of success. The best performances are the easiest performances, so relax and accept your emotions without trying to control or change the, and the performance will come.

6. Success – ‘the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavor’.
Success can be yours if you are willing to risk failing.

What Legacy?

With London on the horizon, it’s supposed to be the start of an exciting ride for the next 3 years, with hugeinvestment and a legacy to last for generations to come. Well that legacy is already starting to crack, as this week the news that the EIS Indoor centre at Gateshead Stadium is under threat of closure – barely 3 years since opening. EIS staff have been given 2 weeks to clear their desks – it’s such a shame and quite ironic that a facility that the region had been crying out for and has helped so many athletes including myself, is being wound down at such an important time.

I’ve used the EIS since it opened and it’s made a great difference to my training, just to be able to train indoors throughout the winter is great. To have such a great facility lying empty would be a disgrace and completely detrimental to the whole point of hosting the Olympics in London, if we can’t sustain running EIS centres before the games, what chance do we have after the games? None.

There are a number of reasons why this isn’t working, mainly that lots of money has been wasted on athletes, on coaches, on management, on camps and more – also the centralisation to HiPACs, where athletes are taken from their comfortable training environment and their coach, and made to go to Loughborough, Brunel, Birmingham or LeValley to work with a ‘speciallist’ coach. It just isn’t working and as a result EIS centres like Gateshead lose all their best athletes.

I’m old skool, so I can cope with training in dusty old sports halls and on concrete concourses, but the London legacy is dying before it started.

Change to Stay the Same

Had a busy time of it of late, last week was non stop which is why I haven’t spouted my mouth off on here for a while, so here goes. Twas Sport Newcastle’s annual dinner last week, where American/Geordie basketballer Fab Flournoy won Sports Personality of the Year, I’ve known Fab for years and he is such a humble man and has achieved so much, he truely deserved the award.

The Cheltenham festival took place last week – my favourite race meeting, so of course I had a fair few flutters. I didn’t do too bad either, but the week was a definate success when Kauto Star romped home to bag me a few pennies.

Check out the Chronicle today as I’m in ‘Face to Face’ with John Gibson, should be good crack as I was chin wagging with John for well over an hour in a Newcastle cafe last Thursday morning – he’s always good value John. Also last Thursday night I braved the Sunderland air to present awards to staff of the charity Dimensions, they work with people with learning disabilities and I met some great people who are really dedicated and doing fantastic work in the community.

A few things over the last week or so which I’m not going to mention specifically, have left me questioning whether perseptions of disability sport and the Paralympics have changed at all, are we any closer to being on a par with our able-bodied counterparts? I have to say I’m not so sure, I think in some isolated cases disabled athletes are respected but in general we still aren’t regarded as true elite performers – old habits die hard and its still the disability people can’t see past, even people who work with disabled people can be alarmingly patronising and so out of touch it’s scary. It’s not suprising that a lots of disabled people are held back so much that they don’t do half of the things they could do with their lives, and when disabled people do get out and do great things with their lives they get treat like a school kid who got a gold star for effort. I’m not painting everyone with the same brush, lots of people have utmost respect for disability sport, but they tend to be people who have had direct contact with the sport and the athletes, and who have an interest. I just carry on regardless – I know the people who respect me, and they have my respect, and the rest I humour.

Had our first UKA get together since Beijing in Birmingham at the weekend. Lots of changes but I’m used to that, the vibe was positive and the call was for improvement and to aim for the top and higher. Lots of good speaking around, but it’s easy to talk the talk – it’s actually doing it that counts. The weekend was worth attending to hear Frank Dick speak – he coached a host of great athletes in the 80s and 90s, he spoke brilliantly, you can tell why he was such a great coach. Ray based most of his coaching style on Frank Dick, so it was good for me that everything he said I could identify with, it kind of  reaffirmed that we’re on the right track. I’ve always worked on the basis that you be the best you can be, not the best you need to be, and that applies to training and competition. The GB squad is thin and expectations are high, the challenge of winning gold medals in athletics in London will be greater than ever and a lot of athletes need to change their approach to their sport in order to meet the challenge, I think that’s what UKA are trying to do, but like I said before – its easier said than done.

Will try and get some pictures on here for those of you who only come on to see pretty pictures of me- ok, that’s all of you.

Congratulations, it’s a Horse

I reckon it’s time I had a good old rant about stuff, I posted recently about my concerns over classification in athletics and how I’m worried that the lower disabilities such as myself are being pushed out of the sport – Truth is that athletics isn’t traditionally a sport for the lower disabilities, boccia is the main Paralympic sport for people severely affected by CP, it has been for as long as I’ve known, so its even more worrying that this sport is being opened up to other disability groups who have a destinct advantage in terms of communication and fine motor control. Indeed in a new sport called powerchair football – which presumably was brought in for people who use an electric wheelchair – it is open to all disability classes, so the more severly disabled are being excluded from a sport that was designed for them. I sometimes wonder if there is a future for severly disabled people in sport at all, if the sports they can do aren’t protected for them, there won’t be.

I’m off to the Sport Newcastle Annual Dinner tonight and will be very interested to see who wins the main award, should be good crack anyway. Looking forward to the Cheltenham Festival which starts tomorrow, unfortunately I won’t get to see a lot of it but it’d be wrong not to have a few flutters – Kauto Star is the biggest bet for me, I also like Binocular and Master Minded.


Hard to believe we are already in March, looks like it’s going to be another whirlwind year. I had a pleasant trip to Buckingham Palace last week, I was hoping to ask the Queen if she’d seen the Facebook group about me not being honoured, but she must’ve known and craftily avoided me, as did her hubby. Prince Edward was happy to chat though after I entertained him at Windsor last year, he offered me some useful advise about how to get rid of my books – the free champagne was that best part though.

It’s been 2 weeks since my unsuccessful operation and still some massive decisions loom large. I know for definate that I need a new hip but it’s case of when I have it. In my current state I think I can train and compete in the club to a high level, it’s just a case of managing the pain in my hip. It may be that I have a replacement this year but there are many uncertainties that probably can’t be answered until the operation is actually done. I’m very much in two minds over this, which is unusual for me as I normally make decisions and that’s it, however on this I feel it’s just not as simple as people are making it out. When my hip is good I don’t have much of a problem but I can’t take pain killers for ever, and when my hip is bad I pretty much can’t move at all. The likely senario will be that I will compete this sumer and then decide whether to have the operation at the end of this season or wait until after London.

Quick note on Dwain Chambers’ book coming out next week – Don’t buy his snivelling, grovelling, self-pittying, excuse-ridden load of bollocks – buy my book instead!