So I competed in Dubai last week, starting my 2014 season very early at the first competition in the IPC Grand Prix Series. I had competed over there 3 years ago in the inaugural Sharjah Open, last time my experience of Dubai wasn’t great as I couldn’t get out of the hotel apart from to go to the track and to the roof-top swimming pool. This time was much better and I enjoyed the 6 days I had there. Even got into downtown Dubai on the very futuristic tube system and gawped at the tallest building in the world (on the Left). It’s ridiculous how big everything is in Dubai, it really is a place on the up, so it’s also great that they are supporting disability sport over there.
Accessibility was pretty decent, although the hotel didn’t have any rooms without baths so I came home very smelly, and their ‘accessible’ gym was up two flights of stairs. Luckily I had taken my TRX with me so was able to work out and keep myself occupied in the comfort of my room. I competed a couple of days after arriving so my priority was getting over the traveling, I had a slightly stiff back in the week leading up, so it was important to keep myself moving and stretching. Also very important was to top up on vitamin D while I had the chance, I did this while listening to my new audiobook ‘Hitler: The End By Ian Kershaw’.
Of course the reason I was there was to compete, this was a great opportunity to compete against the best guys in my class and see how the new seated throws rules worked out. Basically IPC have decided all seated throwers have to sit down to throw – yes, the irony is hard to ignore. It’s something that should’ve happened as soon as ambulant athletes started being classified in wheelchair classes, however, we are there now and credit to IPC for sticking with it and pushing through the new rules as I’m sure there would’ve been some strong opposition. In Dubai the officials were very strict, and we now have competitive events again which is fantastic.
As for me, I threw 28.11m which I was a bit disappointed with because I feel in great shape at the minute. I’ve only done 2 throwing sessions this year though, and they were pretty forced due to preparing for this competition and the weather was horrible for both. As a result I was technically bad but to have two throws over 28 metres was positive. I finished 2nd in what turned out to be a pretty tight competition, the biggest plus was that the world record holder Bahlaz was only about a metre ahead of me on 29 metres. Of course I always concentrate on my own performance and I was disappointed because I know it was within me to win. The fact I was disappointed is good though because after the results in Lyon last year, the event was threatening to get away from me as well as lots of other F32s, but the new rules have made it a level playing field again and lots of athletes including me will feel they are back in the game. It’s what had to happen because it was starting to get to the point where one or two athletes in every class were getting a long way ahead.
Now I’m looking forward to heading to Portugal in a few weeks and learning how to throw.