|Smile says it all|
2 minutes to go and still no other competitors. Slight concern waved through my head, I hadn't got the wrong day had I? For those who know me this thought won't surprise you! ;-)
The morning of my race was completely different. Now it was my turn and as soon as my race plan kicked in the butterfly tummy was replaced by a sense of calm and purpose. Claire, my coach, had drummed into me what was expected. I knew what to do and when to do it so glancing at my watch I saw it was time to warm up.
Team GB had its own portable 'high performance' centre set up with an office, lounge and warm up zone. Lying down on the mats I noticed someone else had joined me, Ed Mceever was also warming up. "Mind if I join you?" he asked. I had to stifle a giggle - it's not everyday an Olympic gold medalist asks to lie down next to you like this..
With less than 2 minutes to go, my focus was distracted by one of my coaches shouting, "You're in the wrong lane!!". (Good skills by the way for being able to project that far against the wind...) I have reasoned that it was the strong cross wind that had blown me into the next lane, but then again I could have just got it wrong! (once more those of you who know me wont be surprised..) By this time all the other competitors had arrived as if by magic and the race was about to start.
Batty from Wey had been helping me with my stability during my starts and I was pleased with how I did here- so thank you Batty for standing in the cold River Wey at 6.30 in the morning to help me with balance drills:-)
In the zone I lost all peripheral awareness and simply stared down through my tunnel vision to the finish line. My body went into autopilot and I just did what I do every day in training.
I was vaguely aware of lots of cheering- thanks team!! As I crossed the finish line I looked left then right and realised I had won.
What next? My race plan hadn't mentioned what to do if I actually won and I felt a bit naughty by spontaneously grinning into the TV camera as I paddled past. But hey, I was happy!!
I've watched medal ceremonies and stood on podiums before but never standing under my national flag, listening to my national anthem. Such an amazing, indescribable moment! All our hard work was worthwhile!
A very big thank you to my wonderful coaches from GB paracanoe and to UK Sport for providing funding to make our high performance centre simply rock. And then a special thank you to Claire, my local coach at Wey - and in fact all at Wey who have been so supportive, every step of my journey from wonky cyclist to European para champion.