I Am Super Paralympic Man

I’ve had a pretty crazy week this week, with so much stuff going on I’ve hardly had time to work or train. I presented awards to students from Ashington and Bedlington High Schools on Tuesday night at Kingston Park, it was for an apprenticeship scheme aimed at giving young people more opportunities to work in sport. Alongside NUFC’s Justin Lockwood I also jabbered on for a bit about my stories and experiences in sport, the whole evening seemed to go very well, with everyone responding to me being there and speaking – Which is what I look for when I make appearances.

The next morning I was up at stupid o’clock to go down to Sheffield to lend my support to the Changing Places campaign – http://www.changing-places.org/ – which is all about getting fully accessible toilets in more places, now toilets might not be the most glamorous of things to promote but I think I did a canny job. I had to go into the new changing places pod in the city centre as a normal person in normal clothes, then get changed and come out in my GB tracksuit with all my medals on – a bit like Superman but not quite. Anyway, I’m sure there will be lots of great photos and I will post as soon as I get. Also there to join in was the local MP and none other than Uriah Rennie – and yes, I give him some stick for sending off Shearer. Was good to go to Sheffield, the last time I went to Ponds Forge was for the boccia nationals some 15 years ago, when I met Duncan Goodhew and he gave me his autograph even though I didn’t ask for it. The campaign is worth backing though, I never used to need to use disabled toilets but since my hip knacked up its really striking how many places don’t have proper accessible toilets now that I need to use them.

On Thursday I sat on the Northumberland Sports Board at their first meeting since being rejigged, I was asked to go on a while ago and jumped at the opportunity, I won’t be there for the coffee and biscuits, I’ll hope to air my strong opinions and represent disability sport at the strategic level – not that Steve Cram (the chair) will take any notice of a Geordie like me. Sadly I missed the hot buffet at the end of the meeting as I had to shoot off early to Gateshead Stadium where I was speaking at Tyne & Wear’s Playground to Podium event. I’m all inspired out this week, but that didn’t stop me handing out medals at a primary schools athletics event on Friday, thankfully I could only go for the last hour which meant I missed the massive downpour in the afternoon.

The inspiration stopped on Friday night when I went to the races for the Gosforth Cup, too many 2nd places to mention but I would’ve came home with no money if a kind bloke that knew me hadn’t given me £4 to put on the last race because he knew the horse’s owner – it came in and my horse came nowhere. Bit random but I wasn’t arguing when I collected the winnings.

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Anaesthetics Sucks

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Not the greatest picture of me here, but it shows off nicely the door to my dressing room, which I was afforded the luxury of at the Own-It awards night last week. It was certainly a new experience for me and I hope the next time I have my own dressing room it has a gold star on the door as well as my name. Here below is an equally unflattering photo of me with the substantial food offering in my dressing room – God, I really do need a haircut.

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I attended the annual Sport Northumbria Dinner on Monday night at the Civic Centre. I think my missus knew more people than me, mainly because she did a mickey mouse sports Masters at Northumbria Uni (I’m joking of course). I was a little miffed that I wasn’t involved in any of the formalities on the night, but it was an enjoyable evening none-the-less and I happily accounted for one less rubber chicken in the wild. Also, the demonstrations were excellent as usual, particularly the acrobatics.

On Thursday I went to the Freeman hospital in Newcastle for my CT scan. I was reliably informed by EIS doctor Greame that I would be in and out in half a day, but when I arrived for admission at 9.45am I was told my scan was booked for 2.30pm. My heart sank and my mum went into her best rant mode but to no avail, so the morning was spent texting, checking emails and putting last minutes bets on for Royal Ascott. I eventually got admitted about 12.30pm, and was starting to get canny hungry, my only fear was being kept in overnight, I was determined to get out that night as the ward I was on was pretty grim. I went down for my scan about 3pm, I wasn’t knocked out until I got on the bed in the CT room, the scanner just looks like a big washing machine, I got on the bed and got knocked out. Normally under anaesthetic I’m out cold but this time I was dreaming about being out on the lash in the Bigg Market, wierd – I was only out for about 10 minutes and the first thing I asked when I woke up was what won the Gold Cup, Yeats won which I was happy about as I don’t back many winners. Once back on the ward I ate and drank as much as I could so I could convince the nurses to let me go home. I got out about 6pm and was starting to feel pretty rough, by the time I got home I had to head to bed and I felt proper ill all night, still, at least I was in my bed.

Next day we drove down to Wigan, I was feeling much better and very up for the comp back at the scene of my personal best (36m) in 2005. So I competely pissed right off when I turned up at Robin Park on Saturday morning to find near identical conditions to Perrivale in April – cold and a strong head wind. I felt like pulling out and going home, not because I only compete in good conditions, but because grand prixs are mainly just about distance, you’re competing against yourself. I knew a big throw wasn’t possible, so my goal was to throw further than Perrivale and I threw 28.91m, which is almost a metre further than Perrivale. So a seasons best and encouragement for me even if everyone else probably thinks I’m on the pies and am throwing crap, I believe I’m in good shape and just need the opportunity to show it – Possibly only one more opportunity for me this season, at Crystal Palace on 26th July – I’m due good conditions surely. Finally, some amateur pics of me from Wigan, can you see the wind?

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I’m Not Dead

God I’ve been so busy the last week or so that it’s been physically impossible to write anything purposeful on here, much, I’m sure, to the dismay of my millions of loyal fans who eagerly logon to this blog every chance they get. Fret not though, I’m back on the PC and it’s a Sunday so there’s nothing to do but wait for Sunday dinner and make the most of the British summertime before it disappears for another year. Last weekend was supposed to be a good gamling weekend for me but as usual it turned into a bit of a nightmare, both my horses came last and Del Potro got beat by Federer when he looked like winning (one to look out for that lad). At least Jenson Button won, and I salvaged some pride with 3 winners at Newcastle races on Saturday night.

I spoke at a Playground to Podium event in Teesside on Monday. It takes a lot to get me to Teesside but these type of events are so important in finding the next generation of sports people who will take over from old codgers like me. As we stumble up to London with the success of Beijing lumbered on the back of a potentially aging GB squad, its important that development is set as a bigger priority than it has in the past. Its far too late for any new athletes to impact on London 2012 but there is still a desperate need for new blood, especially in disability athletics, with weaker competitive sports such as cycling and rowing taking many established athletes away, we are pretty thin on the ground. There is an elitist culture in this country and I feel young people tend to have the wrong reasons for getting into sport, the priorities are getting funded and getting to the Paralympics, now these kind of things are good to have as dreams and having dreams is  important, but sport should be first and foremost about taking enjoyment from participating in it. You have to grow into your chosen sport and fall in love with it, and this time, if you don’t love your sport you won’t work hard at it, you’ll neglect it. Being talented in a sport is a great starting platform, but that’s all it is. These are some of the messages I tried to get over on Monday, hope I succeeded.

On Wednesday i spoke and gave awards out for OWN IT, who help disadvantaged young people to find employment when they are about to leave school. It was at the Centre for Life and was a very well ran event, very glitzy with a red carpet and live band, I was very well looked after and even had my own dressing room which is a first for me. I enjoyed a day out at the cricket on Friday, supporting Sports Aid Northern who hire a box every year to raise money, it was nice weather for a change at Durham and we got a whole day’s cricket, including Freddy ‘Fatty’ Flintoff, who looked in good nick with ball but not with bat.

Equally busy week coming up, with Sport Northumbria’s annual dinner tomorrow night and my CT scan on Thursday, hoping I can get some pictures on here soon. x

If You Need a F***ing Catscan…

I’m booked in for a CT scan at the Freeman hospital two weeks from today, on the 18th June. Unfortunately this is only 2 days before I’m due to compete in Wigan at a CP Grand Prix. As I’m being put under general anaethsetic for the scan (due to me not being able to stay still for more than 5 seconds), I’m hoping I won’t be too bad afterwards and will still be able to travel down to Wigan the day after. Not ideal preparation for a competition, but it isn’t easy to get slots for CT scans under GA, so I need to take this opportunity now and hopefully the scan will shed some light on what is going on inside this bloody hip of mine. I’ve wanted the hip scanned for years but there’s been reluctance to knock me out to do it, so I’m happy its finally getting done. The EIS doctor doesn’t think there’ll be a problem with me competing and even said not to ask for GA before every competition if I break the world record.

I’ve got lots of cool gigs coming up this month which I’ll be sure to let you know about. I’ve been thinking lately about the ingredients of success, and things that come to mind are – desire, ability, work-rate, talent, coaching, courage, luck etc. Lots of different ingredients are needed to have success, and like everything, it all needs to be perfectly balanced to get it right. Which is why I like to think of real success as sustaining success over long periods of time, and not just having one off moments then fading away. All things happen for reasons, success doesn’t happen by accident, it happens through deliberate and continuous efforts, knowing the reasons for success is important, even in winning the lottery the reason you won is because you bought a ticket. One of the biggest reasons for failure is expecting success to happen, assuming you will win – thinking you cannot fail is a good thing and shows confidence, but you need to accept that failure is always possible and not be scared of failure. Its not a right to have success, it can be easy to feel that way when things are going well, but success is something that always has to be seized, you have to take it because it doesn’t come to you, it has to be wrestled every inch every time. Success is hard and difficult and frustrating and tiring – that’s why everyone wants it but only a few can have it.

Random notes now, I get subjected to some crap radio stadions at work and being part time I don’t get any say in the matter. The latest is Real Radio, and they’ve got a competition where you get £1000 if you find the Real Radio Renegade, well a couple of weeks ago at Gateshead stadium someone asked me if I was the Real Radio Renegade, I think I could’ve won and have been annoyed ever since.

Enjoy a good gambling weekend, I”m hoping for Perfect Truth in the Oaks, Black Bear Island in the Derby, Del Potro in the French Open, Button to win the Turkish GP and Beckham to get on in Kazakstan – C’mon!

29 and Fine

I’m now 29 years old and feeling fine about it. Here’s the report from the UKA doctor from my medical meeting in Coventry, lots of it is over my head, so will probably be over yours too because I am an honourary doctor you know. Basically, I need to have  a CT scan before they can decide what type of replacement to do – the joys of being knocked out again…

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Stephen was asked to walk, displaying fixed flexion deformities of both hips and knees, spasticity of his hip flexors and adductors, antalgia, stabilization of gait through compression of knees against eachother, pain in his left groin and fatigue on walking just a few yards.

 There followed an in-depth discussion between all participants including

         i.            Stephen’s goals – increased quality of life, ambulation, pain-free, 2012 Olympic club throwing gold, World Championships 2011 – would need to be training  April 2010.

       ii.            Conservative management – analgaesia, injections, physiotherapy, failed arthroscopy (agreed by 90% that as all conservative management had been exhausted and likelihood of continued deterioration given rapid deterioration over last 12 months, surgery was now appropriate).

      iii.            Further investigations –

a.       CT under GA, to assess acetabulum, degree of anteversion – agreed necessary

b.      EMG/ Gait analysis, neurological opinion , to assess neurological component of presentation – agreed probably not necessary. Discussed that although cerebral palsy was a non-progressive neurological disease, Stephen had probably escaped more severe disability by his strength and conditioning training. Now that he is unable to train, then effects of disability more noticeable.

     iv.            Surgical options

a.       Timing – pre or post London Olympics

b.      Resurfacing – would require large head to neck ratio to reduce dislocation rate (50% would go for this),

c.       Total hip replacement (50% would go for this)

d.      Deepening of acetabular socket to reduce dislocation rate – most agreed necessary

e.      Requirement for osteotomy (subtrochanteric or trochanteric) – most agreed necessary

f.        Requirement for soft tissue balancing e.g. adductor release, lengthening iliopsoas tendon (possibility of this needed bilaterally if pursued to balance) – minority would do this

g.       Arthrodesis at 90 degrees (0% would go for this, therefore discounted) 

h.      Surgical approach – discounted posterior approach due to risk of gluteal muscle weakness post-surgery, anterior or anterolateral approaches favoured

       v.            Risks

a.       Dislocation

b.      Unpredictable return of function, despite pain relief (e.g. walking ability)

     vi.            Rehabilitation

a.       UKA/EIS would be able to provide best practice physiotherapy, strength and conditioning rehabilitation, therefore chances of successful operative result would be increased

b.      Motivation – agreed that Stephen’s motivation would increase chances of a successful outcome

 Professor Griffin decided to speak to Graeme Wilkes to organize CT scan left hip under general anaesthesia and then to e-mail all consultant hip surgeons at the meeting with the images to begin a “round robin” discussion as to the most appropriate surgical procedure to undertake