Friday, 23 August 2013

New Beginnings

Anniversaries have a habit of making you remember what has happened in the past at that particular time of year. Anniversaries can be nice and are generally celebrated (weddings and birthdays (if under 30;-)) or can be bad and be an annual reminder of something sad.
August bank holiday has very mixed emotions for me. Life changing events always seem to happen to me around this time of year. The last 3 years have been a particularly extreme roller coaster of good and bad things, so am I going look forward to August bank holiday 2013 or am I dreading it?

August 2010 I was lucky enough to have qualified for the World Solo 24 hour mountain bike championships in Australia.

 August bank holiday saw me putting together the final preparations for this epic challenge. I ended up coming 4th in my category which was pretty cool considering I had only been cycling for 4 years and competing for 2. After this race I was offered sponsorship from Team AQR coaching which led to wonderful friendships and a bike focused lifestyle of training and racing.

Loving riding my bike.....

August 2011 I injured my back causing nerve damage to my leg.

August bank holiday saw me being rushed to hospital for an emergency spinal decompression. This knocked me down both physically and emotionally. On the plus side, the surgery had been a success in that I could walk, but on the minus side I was so wobbly and weak that I couldn't even lift an empty dinner plate. Riding my bike again was a far off dream and I mourned the loss of my previous lifestyle.

August 2012 After a year of struggling to ride my bike again I decided that if I couldn't compete and 'take' from sport, I would volunteer and give back to it.

It was during a volunteering stint at the 2012 London Olympics that I met the GB para canoe coach who after hearing about my weak leg offered me a chance to try out for GB para canoe. August bank holiday week saw me getting into a kayak for the very first time. Looking back I was pretty awful - On the water I looked more like a frog in a blender and during my gym assessment I couldn't even lift the bar that the weights go on! But they must have seen potential and train-ability as I was offered a place on the squad on condition of meeting certain criteria.

Me working at the Velodrome.

August 2013- This bank holiday week I have the the biggest challenge yet. I am going to be representing Team GB at the World Sprint championships as a 200m sprint paracanoeist.

Team GB para-canoeists

Yes I met all those criteria and have improved immeasurably over the year. I have improved largely due to hard graft, a good dollop of grit and determination together with help and support from some very talented people who believe in me. Their belief has spurred me on to try harder and train better, but it has all happened so quickly making me sometimes wonder if its happening at all!
 Only 2 years ago I couldn't even lift a dinner plate! Since then I have changed shape and I can fling the bar (plus 'grr man' weights) around the gym with relative ease. One year ago I had never been in a kayak and now am European champion and preparing to compete at the World championships.
Me as a cyclist in 2011with weedy arms vs me as a sprint canoeist in 2013

So back to the original question,  am I looking forward to or dreading this August bank holiday week?

The answer is easy, I am really looking forward to it because a year ago I thought I would never be able to do sport again, and yet here I am, able to compete at the highest level possible. My whole Family and best friends are coming out to cheer me on, how could I not look forward to, and be happy and excited about all that?


If anyone wants to watch the live feed of my races here is the link

Here is the race schedule (in German time)
Heats 28.8.13 at 12.00 or 13.00
Semis 28.8.13 at 16.00
Finals 29.8.13 at 14.55
Medal ceremonies 29.8.13 at 15.15

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