Having spent the last 2 weeks watching the Olympics on the TV, I can tell you that my patience is wearing thin. Watching superb performance after superb performance has taken it's toll on me. That must sound really odd... but it's really just a matter of wanting to get out there and do it myself now. And it's not long off now!
So what have I been up to in these final days before the Paralympics begin? As always – training. Not training harder than usual though. In fact... less. The hard work is already done, so it's a matter of putting the finishing touches on everything. And I can tell you, this is the hardest part of all.
Last weekend I was back in Ireland for the final mini-camp with the entire Paralympic team. The weather was poor – wet most days. Coupled with a stifling hot hotel room and somehow I managed to pick up a cold or the flu. Coughing, sore throat phlegm, etc. Not pleasant. And it's slowed me down a bit. I had to take a few days off the bike to try and recover quickly. With 3 weeks to go until competition begins, it's not critical to train every day. But it IS critical to make sure that the sniffles don't turn into something worse that can harm my chances at gold when it counts.
So I had to rest up a few days and then ease back into the training. It's not easy for someone how likes to work hard, and especially tough as I was coming into some great form before the minor setback hit. Still, with a fair bit of hard work still to do, a few extra days of rest will serve me well in the long(er) run.
I've also now got my mother visiting from Canada for a few days. Before she came I warned her that I had to train/race and she obviously understood this. But just having her around all the time makes it a little bit harder for me to relax, rest up and get my preparations to the point where I am happy.
This all makes me appreciate more so the upcoming holding camp. In a few days we will all fly to Portugal to put the finishing touches on our training. Everyone leaves their friends, family, kids, jobs, and distractions behind and we put our race heads on. Even having these minor distractions to deal with the past few days makes me realize the importance of the camp.
I've also been spending these last few days making sure all my equipment is tested and ready to go. There's been a steady incoming stream of new toys to install and test out and so far I am very pleased with the results. A few more bits are overdue and will have to be forwarded on, but each little thing contributes to the overall package – and ultimately faster times.
I've been told to manage expectations – to my friends/family/the general public. I don't want to come out and guarantee a gold medal as that would be foolish. Anything can happen and as we have all seen recently, people at the Games are capable of 'superhuman' performances. The favourite doesn't always win. And make no mistake about it – I AM (one) of the favourites.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to win. Not just for me – but for every single one of you that have followed me and are reading this right now. I want to share my success with all of you – because you all help make it that much more special and worthwhile. It's nice to know people are watching, cheering you on and will be genuinely happy for you if you win.
So, even though I want to win – my goal is first and foremost to be on that podium at the end of the day. I'd like to be the one standing in the middle... and I know it;s in my grasp. It's there for the taking. The results I've been putting up just prior to getting sick prove it. I can't control what anyone else will do, but I can assure you I'll be coming hard and with everything I've got. And I just happen to think me at my best is better than anyone else at their best.
So, what is left now? One last training session at the Manchester Velodrome in the morning, then it's home to pack. On a plane for Dublin first thing on Wednesday morning and meet up with the rest of the team. There's going to be a fantastic send-off party (at Bewley's Hotel at theDublin Airport) on Wednesday night before we all hop a plane to Portugal on Thursday. We will train there for a week before packing up again and finally... head into the Olympic Village in London.
We then have a week to get settled. We'll get our first training sessions on the London Velodrome and really start to dial in for race day. A few days later and it'll be OUR Opening Ceremonies. I can't wait to walk into that stadium with 80,000 people in attendance and millions more watching worldwide. I hope all of you will be watching too!
And then... 2 days later... it's game on. Years of hard work will be put to the test. It'll be my time to shine. From here on out the communications may be few and far between – but I hope you'll follow on Facebook or Twitter or just turn your TVs to the coverage and watch. Be inspired. Be in awe. ANd for the lucky ones – be in attendance.
I thank all of you that have been a part of this journey from the start and those that have joined as we've gone along. And it doesn't end here either! But for now – I'm off to bed to rest up for my final day of training at home. So - stay tuned?