April seemed to fly by with a two week UK Athletics training camp taking up most of the month. Like most training camps there was nothing too exciting that I can report apart from the amazing Oakley sunglasses I bought in the airport on the way back. It was a productive two weeks though, over which I had only 3 rest days, I was able to do lots of technical work which is always one of the main aims of warm weather training. I threw consistently well over the two weeks and we were happy that some resemblance of decent technique was starting to appear. I did end up very much in the wars as I threw more than I would normally and with my left hip being so tight I rubbed pretty much all the hair and skin off my left shin where it slides against my right leg – no pain, no gain, as someone said once.
The beauty of warm weather training is that you discover technical problems and flaws, and you have time to sort them out before the serious business gets going. As a result of this, I may be wearing full length tights when I throw, which will hopefully put off the opposition as I will look ridiculous – the things you have to do to throw a stick a long way. Two weeks is a long time to be on a training camp, but I got through my down time by watching pretty much every second of the European Weightlifting Championships, taking in CBBC and playing scrabble on Danny’s Ipad – I came last every night until the last night when I swept to victory, only to look a fool by tweeting ‘Finally won at scrable’!
The weather in Portugal was mainly anything but warm, however getting off the plane at Newcastle, I was reminded what cold really is. I knew I had my first competition of the momentous 2012 season the weekend after coming back from Portugal, and I was really up for it. I was confident and feeling good in myself, despite the horrid weather forecast I felt I could throw very well and get off to a flier. That was until I turned up at Gateshead Stadium on the Sunday morning – it was Baltic, and a raging wind was whipping into the throwing cage. I had to go inside to warm up as after 10 minutes outside I couldn’t feel my hands and I was shaking. I reckon it’s the first time I have seriously considered pulling out of a competition due to the weather. I warmed up for an hour so decided to give it a go, then right on cue as soon as I got outside it started raining, rain that turned into hail when it was my turn to throw. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the worst conditions I’ve ever competed in, and I’ve competed in some shocking weather during my career. I managed 26.88m, which is far from what I wanted at my home stadium, but it was very much one to forget. It was a shame because I felt good physically.
Now I look forward to competing this weekend at Stoke Mandeville, and getting a good mark on the board. Everyone is going bonkers for the Olympics and Paralympics right now, and though it is exciting, my focus is firmly on the European Championships in June. I was selected upon returning from Portugal, it will be my 46th GB appearance. It wasn’t compulsory to go for the Europeans but it’s at a good time and will be a good test before London, it’ll likely be my last competition. I’m also European champion from the last championships back in 2005, so with me being the competitor I am, I naturally want to defend my title.
Lastly, here’s some shameless name-dropping, I spoke and presented awards at Newcastle College’s diversity celebration evening – NUFC’s Papiss Cisse, Sammy Ameobi and Haris Vukic helped me out with the awards. Very nice lads.