Well, over 6 weeks into 2014 and it’s time to blog. It’s been a very busy and productive year so far, with starting a business and being awarded honorary freedom of my hometown Cramlington. I’ve been training a bit as well (I am a professional athlete after all). After the excitement and over eating of Christmas and new year, I’ve pushed myself hard throughout January and I really feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a while, I think this new hip has taken 10 years off me. I’ve been joining in a members session on a Wednesday night at Speedflex and have enjoyed it – even though I do an individual sport and don’t need to be in anyone’s company to have a fierce competition, I do like training with other people and pushing each other to the limit.
This week I’m off to Dubai to compete in the first IPC Grand Prix of the season. It’s a little early in the year for me to compete and I must admit I haven’t done much throwing in the build up to this competition. I’m a fair weather thrower and like to hibernate in the gym in winter. However this competition is a good standard for my event (Top 3 in the world have entered), and it’s a great opportunity to see how the new IPC seated throws rules play out – Nothing the do with the nice hot weather, honest. It’s exciting to have the IPC Grand Prix and it’s important that the athletes support it, I’ve always said we need the top guys competing against each other more regularly, I won the IPC Grand Prix final last year and really enjoyed the competition.
We launched SMILE Through Sport (www.smilethroughsport.com) in January and the interest has been extremely positive. As well as launching in the media, we held a networking day at St. James’ Park which attracted lots of people from a variety of different workplaces and we have lots of exciting projects to get started on. Recently on behalf of SMILE I have spoken at Durham University Castle College at their formal dinner, I felt a bit like Harry Potter at Hogwarts, it is a beautiful place to study there. I also spoke at Newcastle University along side Tanni Grey-Thompson to mark their disability awareness week – here’s a link to the story http://thecourieronline.co.uk/gold-medal-winners-share-stories-of-success-for-disability-awareness/.
At the beginning of this month I was very privileged to be the first person ever to receive the Freedom of Cramlington from the town council. I’ve lived in Cramlington all my life so it was very special to get this honour, I now have the freedom of Northumberland, Gateshead and Cramlington, so I’m slowly taking over the North East. It’s not often you get to make your own piece of history, Cramlington is certainly a town that is going places with lots of investment going on – I do my best to shamelessly plug it, I even opened the new Weatherspoons Pub.
See you all soon…