Things were looking exciting at the start of the year, however I then got injured, didn’t get selected for the World Championships…..and the prospect of getting selected for the paralympics felt a million miles away! I look back now, and it was a particularly tough time and it made me question a lot of things. However, I often say to people it’s all about the journey that these challenges take you on…..and I came out of it stronger and more determined than ever to do everything I could to be the athlete that I knew I could be.
I was very proud when the coaches told me that I was staying on the Rio pathway, and since September I’ve had a new sense of self belief and purpose. It’s been an incredible journey, and it’s not finished yet!!!! We’re off to Brazil in January for a training camp and then before we know it, it’ll be the world Championships and then straight into the selections for Rio on June 5th. The next 6 months are going to be the ones that really make it count, so it’s time to work harder and be more committed than I’ve ever done in my life before!!!
There are so many people to thank that have played such an important part in making this all happen. First and foremost, the coaches at the High Performance Centre. They do an amazing job and somehow manage to put up with all of us demanding athletes! But none of this could happen without the funding from UK Sport. They provide us with fantastic facilities and really do give us the best chance of being a World Class Squad that leads the rest of the nations.
For me personally I must also thank my sponsors for this year, East Midlands Civil Engineering, The Charter 600 Charity Committee, J and PR, HBP Training and Geoff Ward Film and Photography. Without their support the journey this year could’ve had a very different outcome.
I must also thank Skechers UK for all their help in sourcing and providing suitable training footwear that compensates for the limitations in my ankle, and Brad Snape and Andrew King from One Stop for their support as we move into 2016.
Marc Woods, himself a 5 x Paralympic swimmer, has been like a guardian angel to me over the last 12 months and I can’t thank him enough for all the help and support he’s given me. We all need a “Marc” in our lives and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the benefit of his advice and words of wisdom.
There are going to be so many people to thank when I’m stood on that podium…..and I will be doing everything I can to make them all proud in 2016.
Aside from all the training, I had the pleasure of going up to Wigan to talk to 180 children from St Wilfred’s primary academy. It was an awesome afternoon and I was so impressed with both the school and the amazing energy and enthusiasm from all the children. It went a little bit bonkers when I gave them all a balloon to blow up, representing whatever they might dream of achieving. The idea was that if your balloon bursts, blows away or looses all its air, then that’s ok, it’s all about finding another balloon and working as hard as you can to blow that back up…..don’t worry when things don’t always work out, the important thing is to pick yourself back up and keep going….whether that’s trying to blow that same balloon back up, or whether you just find a new balloon all together. There ended up with a lot of AWOL balloons, but they were an awesome bunch of kids and really got the message I was putting across.
Talking of messages…..below is a link to a short video showing one of the amazing stories from our Climbing Out programmes this year. If ever there was a message to be given, I think this says it all. I’d ask you to please take 2 minutes out of your day to watch the clip.
Well, all that’s left to be said, is to say “I hope you all had a Merry Christmas & wishing you a Happy New Year. Thank you for all the wonderful support you’ve given me throughout 2015…..and let’s hope it’s a very golden 2016!