You go to your cousin’s son’s 4th birthday party, you don’t know any of the songs and are the same age as most of the parents – then you go to an 18th birthday party for a lad you’ve known for 10 years, pretty scary, but I was a good role model as usual and bought him his first pint.
You also know you’re getting old when fellow athletes start retiring – Danny Crates announced that he is to retire after the nationals at Crystal Palace. I’ve competed alongside Danny for his entire career and he’s been a great ambassador for the sport, a proper athlete. As he says, he hasn’t always been successful, and landed his single Paralympic gold in Athens 2004. However he’s made out a great career and has won every title going during his career. He was a surprise GB flag carrier in Beijing but then couldn’t compete due to injury and never defended his title. Because he’s a track athlete and fairly able-bodied, Danny’s always done well with media coverage and sponsorship, I once chatted to Danny when I was upset that my event was not covered by TV after I won my 3rd straight world title, Danny couldn’t understand why I wasn’t happy but I wonder how he would’ve felt had he been shunned by the media.
I’ve have had great coverage in my career but it is something I get bitter about, and I don’t mind admitting that. Had I been a track athlete with a less severe disability, my successes would’ve been more greatly recognised, but I’m not and so all I can do is keep my head down and plow on. A bit like Danny, missing out on gold in Beijing (the first time I hadn’t won gold in a Paralympics) meant that I probably missed out on getting on the honours list, as they were giving them out like confetti. Is all that why I do sport? – No, if it was, I’d have packed in years ago, but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel something towards it.
Good luck to Danny, he’s a top bloke and a proper athlete, he’s another world-class athlete that the sport will find difficult to replace.
I started off Hollywell first school’s sports day yesterday, by miracle it didn’t rain. I got some very interesting questions from the youngsters, including when my birthday was. I was able to show the kids what I did and as we were on the field I threw a club from my wheelchair, it was a canny throw – probably further than I threw in training that morning.
Training has been hit and miss recently but that’s not unusual for me, I’ll be on full throttle tomorrow night at the local league competition at gateshead stadium. Come down and watch, I might buy you a pint after.