Merry Christmas! – December 2018

This will be my final blog for 2018 and what a year it’s been! Thanks to you for following my posts. I hope It’s given you a little insight my life as an athlete, and I look forward to continuing the blogs in 2019!

This month my training has stepped up a gear. My gym programme has changed and I’ve more time on the bike and the intensity has definitely ramped up! I was really lucky at the beginning of the month to make use of the support services in Dublin and get a couple of bike rides in with Jen Bates who raced with me earlier this year at a Road World Cup. It was lovely feeling the wind on my face but unfortunately I haven’t been able to go out on the tandem since then and this has meant I’ve done a lot of long sessions on the indoor bike. Working on the bike on my base aerobic fitness is important and is an element of training that continues throughout the year.

A long session on the indoor bike

Why do Sport Ireland need to know my whereabouts?

Sport Ireland National Anti-Doping Programme acts to protect Ireland’s sporting integrity against the threat of doping. As an elite athlete I am on the registered testing pool.

I am proud of being a true athlete and knowing that my performance is 100% me. Every three months a fill in a form saying exactly where I intend to be for an hour each day. Even if Im in another country or competing and I have to include training and competition locations; filling this is critical as failure to do so may result in a Missed Test. This can have a detrimental effect on any funding I receive.

Athletes can be tested in and out of competition and I am not given notice when UK Anti Doping plan to visit on behalf of Sport Ireland. When I’m at home and the door bell rings at an unusual hour I have a very good idea who it is! Two or three people can turn up as early as 6:30am or as late as 9:00pm. Once I’ve seen their identification and been informed that I am being tested, I am not allowed to be on my own until the testing procedure has finished.

During competition only urine is taken. Out of competition usually urine and blood is taken. During the month of November I was tested twice with both urine and blood taken and although I’ve done this hundreds of times it still makes me nervous and I even fainted during a recent test! It was a scary experience and one that hasn’t happened to me before, but I have very low blood pressure and the early morning call meant that my pressure was even lower and I passed out.

The whole procedure takes about an hour and a lot of paper work is filled in and plastic thrown away! One person fills in the paperwork and watches me in the toilet as I pee into a bottle, and the other one watches the person who watches me pee and is a doctor or a nurse who also takes the blood. Being visually impaired I have to have a witness with me during the procedure this is usually my mum, she helps read the information and check that the barcodes on the bottles match up to the stick

Bottles provided by anti doping – A strict procedure is carried out each time. A minimum amount of urine needs to be provided and if that amount is short, another sample has to be provided and this could takes hours for me to produce!

Launch of new owners “Everyone Active” at K2 gym Crawley 

On 14th November the new owners of the K2 gym in Crawley “Everyone Active” had their official launch. I was invited by them and Crawley Borough Council to take part alongside retired GB sprint hurdler Colin Jackson. It was a lovely afternoon and I was thrilled to stand alongside Colin Jackson for a question and answer session. He is one of the World’s greatest athletes and certainly one of my idols.

The new major, Carlos along with councillors Mullins and Smith and dignitaries from other sporting organisations were joined by members of K2 and local school children and a few up and coming young athletes.

I was delighted that Adam from Homes Partnership was able to come to the launch and support me. I am very fortunate and lucky to have had free use of the facilities thanks to the previous owners Freedom Leisure, and this is being continued by “Everyone Active”.

Me with Colin Jackson during the question and answer session at the K2 Crawley during the launch of the new owners, Everyone Active.

Sussex Sports Awards 2018

Due to being nominated for a Sussex Sports Award I was shortlisted as one of three finalists for the Disabled Sportsperson of the year. This was the third year I have been shortlisted for an award. This is always a delightful evening in the Grand Hotel in Brighton and showcases, celebrates and honours sport from grassroots to elite level across the county of Sussex. The guest of honour was Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards who went on a quest to compete at the Winter Olympics in Calgary 1988 in ski jumping. He gave us an insight into his inspiring journey of never giving up and refusing to take no for an answer; his enthusiastic outgoing manner was very endearing and uplifting. I didn’t win the award this year but it went to Joe Townsend a GB triathlete who was a very worthy winner. I was delighted and honoured to be shortlisted and invited along to the evening and can’t win it every year.

Myself, my gym trainer Nick Buckfield (ex Olympic Great Britain pole vaulter) with Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards

The Cycling Ireland Award Gala 2018

The following day I flew to Dublin for the Cycling Ireland awards. Another lovely evening celebrating sport and in particular cycling in Ireland. The awards recognise the amazing work volunteers and clubs do as well as  recognising national and International achievements. Myself and Eve are presented with a Special Recognition Award for our double Gold at the Road World Championships in August. Eve also picked up an award for her third place at the 2018 National road racing series.

Myself and Eve and with Ronan McLaughlin who presented us with our award 

That’s all for this month, I will be back in January updating you a bit on what I’ve been up to during the month of December…not including eating mince pies!

A Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year!

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