Full of Charm

Alright, there’s  a poll on the Telegraph online right now to vote for Britain’s greatest Olympic/Paralympic moment, and yours truly is in it. So click this link and get voting – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/picturegalleries/9084577/Greatest-British-Olympic-and-Paralympic-moments.html – Of course you don’t have to vote for me because I said so, just vote for the best one… I think you all know who that is 😉

Speaking of polls, I’ve stupidly decided to do a less physical but potentially embarrassing challenge for Sport Relief. I’m going to do the mile at Duridge Bay in my electric wheelchair dressed as whatever wins this poll below – vote lightly!

This blog is admittedly very similar to my Independent blog, I like to share my blogs as much as possible to make up for my limited content. I normally get them out together but haven’t had time. Hopefully this one will have better spelling and grammar.

February has gone so quick I haven’t had time to think. My January blues are long gone, the weeks have been flying by and there’s now less than 200 days until the Paralympic Games gets under way – quick, pass the nappies! I’ve been very busy this month as excitement builds for the Olympics and Paralympics. Thought I’d get this blog out before the 29th to warn the girls that I am engaged to be married so save your requests please.

I helped to launch Newcastle’s Schools 500 games by doing assemblies in 4 local schools. The games are a school Olympics style event held in June, last year was a massive success and this year is going to be event bigger. Here’s some pictures of me at the launch with some lesser-known sports stars (only joking), and of me playing a sport called boccia that I used to be canny good at and may go back to when I’m too old and knackered to throw a stick – not long then! See more about schools 500 at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Newcastle-Schools-500-Games/222068617803255?sk=wall

It was a long day but really worth it to speak to the young people and see what a difference it makes to them to have a Paralympian in their school. I know it made a big impression on me to meet sporting role models and see how successful they were, to learn from their experiences and most importantly see their medals. I hope I manage to do the same to the children I speak to – although a little girl did nod off during my talk at one school, which is a bit worrying but she was only 4 so I’ll let her off. I went into Walkergate school the following day for their disability awareness week, and also popped across the road to present Cramlington High School with their Get Set certificate, which is an Inspired by London 2012 scheme.

I do know the importance of being a role model and with the club event now being one of the strongest in Great Britain, I’d like to think my success has helped in some way to encourage young people with a similar disability to me to give the sport a go. I still think classification greatly disadvantages more severely disabled athletes from progressing, particularly with the new trends of allowing F36s compete as F32s and F35s compete as F34s. The IPC needs to sort this out for participation to rise.

As well as speaking to children in a slightly inspirational fashion, you’ll be surprised to know I speak to adults as well. This month I was guess speaker for Stockton Borough Council’s staff development days and launched their Personal Podium campaign which is seeking for people to sign up to achieve a personal goal in 2012, read more at http://www.personalpodium.co.uk/

On the 1st of March it is the International Wheelchair Day, in the North East this is being celebrated with a free event at Percy Hedley Sports Academy from 4pm – 9pm, find out more at http://www.iwd2012.moonfruit.com/ – I’ll be there for a couple of hours to lend support.

Don’t worry, I do still get time to train with all this going on and my focus is on that, though I do acknowledge that my appearances with have to dramatically reduce in the months to come. Jetting off to Portugal in April will help that I’m sure. In the meantime I’m still very much in hedgehog mode although my coach is threatening to make me brave the outdoors in March. I must admit I am getting a twitch to throw, 5 months is about the time when I start getting strong urges to pick stuff up and throw it, which really annoys Rachel when I throw my clothes all over the place.

Last plug I promise, I’m involved in helping organise a charity dinner in aid of the Sunshine Fund and Variety Club charities. It will be a celebration of local Olympians and Paralympians, which is being held at the Hilton Hotel on the 11th May. Tickets are £100 a head, but I’m speaking on the night so I’d say that’s cheap. I popped down to Newcastle United’s training ground for some photos to promote the dinner, was good to catch up with John Carver and quite apt to get Athens Olympic gold medallist Fabrico Coloccine on the photos – I made sure I gave them plenty stick for the Tottenham match. For more information, call 0191 214 5959.

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