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.


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