Mega sorryness and remorse for the lack of blogging. Have been busy winning my 3rd European club throw title and trying to qualify for my 5th Paralympic Games. It’s always a nerve wrecking time when Paralympic team selection looms and this time was more tense than any other games I’ve gone for because it is in London and because of the strength and depth of disability athletics in the last few years – the standards required to get into the team were incredibly high, lots of very good athletes didn’t get in and my thoughts go out to them at this tough time.
I’m extremely proud that I’ve been selected for my 5th Paralympic Games, many people said it was never in doubt, but I don’t take anything for granted and until I got that phone call I had a very twitchy bum. I’ve had to work harder and overcome more obstacles to get to these games, there have been many periods when I really thought I would not get to this position and that makes it all the more satisfying. I of course take all the adulation and am happy to do so, but it goes without saying that many people have been instrumental in this campaign and my success is shared with them. Getting this far is fantastic but only the beginning, now we move on and ensure the most is made of this opportunity. Who would have thought a skinny ginger kid from Newcastle would be going into a 5th Paralympic Games looking to maintain an (we all know it’s true) unbeaten record, I plan to do so with passion, determination and enjoyment.
Prior to selection I travelled to Holland to defend my European title. I know that I was away when the infamous Geordie storm hit Newcastle, but the weather wasn’t much better the day I competed. There was already a horrendous head wind to throw into, and as soon as I got a club in my hand the heavens opened. I thought my first throw was going to come back and hit me in the back of the head, when the distance came up as 23 metres something I was worried, but I managed to dig deep and get to 29.10 metres somehow and I was more than happy to take that given the conditions (not the first time I’ve said that this season). The competition was strong even with only 4 in it, two guys were capable of 30m plus but the conditions got to them more than me so I’m hoping it’s just as terrible in London on the 31st of August. A win is a win no matter how far you throw and it was a great moment to be on top of the podium at a major championships for the first time since 2006. It also completed a treble treble for me of 3 Paralympic, 3 World and 3 European titles without defeat.
The self-honouring stops now as we now enter the final few weeks before the Paralympics. It seems completely surreal that there are only 40 days to go, and it’s going very quick. Now is the time when every session is massively important, I’m focussed on nailing everything to the ground (not literally) and raising the quality of my work as high as it will go. All the people I meet are mega-excited and I feel that excitement but I need to stay calm and get my work done effectively.
This Paralympic games will be different to all the rest I’ve been to because it’s the first time my dad won’t be there supporting. No doubt this will be an emotional time for me and my family – it always is at the Paralympics, but this time will be more than ever. Knowing my dad, he would not want me to get upset at his absence, he would tell me to do my best and he’d be proud whatever happens. I think this is a good mentality to take into the games. I want to perform to my maximum potential but I also want to enjoy the experience of this historic Paralympic Games.
When the mist descends
Worlds can end
Anyone can fail
Anyone can prevail
Years later when we tell the tale
We’ll hardly believe it was true
It was, and it was all you.