It’s been a mega busy few weeks, I’ve squeezed 3 competitions into four weeks. Now I said we would never do what we did last year and chase competitions hoping that things will get better. Last year I competed more than ever before, so this year we had a clear competition plan up to the European Championships, which is to be my last competition before the Paralympic games (if selected). As with all good plans they have to be flexible and we did fit in an extra competition to coincide with a trip to Coventry to speak with my consultant about my hip operation.
The last time I blogged I had done a competition at Gateshead which nearly left me with pneumonia and I was about to compete at Stoke Mandeville. That competition was hugely frustrating as I threw 28.54 metres and in training I’d been throwing much further. It’s very unusual for me to throw less in competition than in training as it’s normally the other way round. It’s an obvious case of trying to hard in the competition and tightening up rather than letting it happen. As an athlete you always want to be the best you can be and when you’re below your expectations it can be maddening, especially when you know how hard you work, but performance sport is all about performance and results, you don’t get points for how hard you work. After performances like this I say things to myself like ‘not good enough’, ‘got to do better’, ‘useless ginger biscuit’ etc, then I get over it and move on.
The opportunity to compete at Birmingham came up in the England Athletics national championships. It was the day after my consultation with professor Griffin in Coventry. Mr Griffin has been brilliant with me since I was referred to him in 2009, I have complete in him – I walked in the door, he looked me in the eye and asked ‘is it hurting?’, I said ‘yes, pretty much all the time’ and he said ‘I think it’s time’. I agreed and I’ll be having hip replacement surgery in October/November this year, with the main aim being to make me pain free and comfortable, then we’ll take it from there – I don’t think this will necessarily be the end of my athletics career. At the competition I threw 28.36 and was screaming ‘you useless ginger biscuit at myself. The feeling of frustration was even more because I was sure I’d improve on last time, again I was trying too hard to get it right. With throwing it just takes one thing to click and you can be flying, we know I’m in great shape physically and it’s just timing that is off – plus I’m try to smack the club all over like a drunken man. Maybe I should take it out to dinner and buy it flowers, then it might go further.
Last week I competed at Stoke Mandeville again, we’d made some slight tweaks to the frame and it seemed to work as I threw a seasons best by over 2 metres of 30.57, it was a massive relief to get over 30 metres for the first time this year and it will give me a lot of confidence going forward. I still feel like I didn’t nail any of my throws so I know there’s still a lot more in the tank. If I can keep improving I should be up to a decent standard by the end of August. Right now I’m fully focussed on the European Championships in Holland where I compete a week on Monday. Then it’s all about team selection for the Paralympics, I’ve never taken anything for granted in my whole career so team selection is always a nervous time.
You have probably noticed that the Olympic torch is doing the rounds at the moment, I have to say that I don’t really agree with all these celebrities doing it, when it should be about the volunteers and supporters that don’t get much publicity and recognition. The torch gives these people the chance to take centre stage and be part of history, like everything though it’s been taken over by corporate agendas to generate publicity and money, but I guess that’s the world we live in.
I nominated my brother because he has supported me throughout my career and shared in all my successes without ever being bitter or jealous. He’s volunteered at events I’ve been at and has been sort of in my shadow, he deserved to be the centre of attention for once. We had a fantastic day on the coast at Whitley Bay, the crowd was amazing and made it a great day and it made you feel part of something special. That is what the torch relay is all about – not token celebrities.