Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Four years on… and it’s 637 Days to Go AGAIN! 

It’s hard to believe, but I first started this blog with 637 days to go before London 2012, and as of today, it’s 637 days to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games kick off. So here we go again. I took some time away (from the blog) but I’m back, and so are my ramblings.

The last 4 years have been a blur and at times both a dream and nightmare. I’ve had the greatest of successes and the most frustrating of defeats. I’m learned a lot about myself as an individual, a sportsman, a role model and just plain human being. I’ve reached the highest heights, fallen down, and picked myself back up again. But most importantly – I’m still going strong.

The last 4 years have brought me 2 World Championships titles, National titles, World Cup titles, World Championship medals, and numerous World Cup medals, but the one thing that I’m still missing is a Paralympic medal. I went to London as a reigning double World Champion, confident I would leave with a medal, but went home empty-handed. Four year on and the goal is still the same: bring home a Paralympic medal.

Unlike London, I won’t be talking myself up as a gold medal prospect. And I won’t be over-confident of winning a medal of any colour. But I’ll be suing the lessons learned in the last 4 years (and the next 2 years) to help make sure I am as well-prepared as I possibly can be.

Every year I still am finding ways to improve my training methods and race equipment, but I’m still making mistakes. It’s part of the learning and growing process. But at every turn I am making sure the mistakes I make now do not get repeated. 

The dedication of the support staff at Cycling Ireland and Paralympics Ireland is as steadfast as ever and in lots of ways has grown significantly. There are still improvements I would like to see but we’re miles ahead of where we were 4 years ago. The team of riders has shrunk marginally, leaving more support for the remaining riders. 

And I have learned to take care of myself. I don’t need constant reassurance and guidance from my coaches. I am confident enough in my abilities to understand that some days are better than others and that when the big races come, I will be ready for them.

And as before, I have some great sponsors along for the ride. I shall continue to review the products and services that I sue, and give honest assessments of how they work for me.

2015 will be a tough year. It will kick off with the Paracycling Track World Championships in the Netherlands at the end of March where I will try and beat my silver medal in last year's World's. Then I will switch back to the road again competing in several small races in Europe, plus a couple of larger World Cup races - all in search of valuable Rio qualification points. In all likelihood I will skip the Road World Championships in favour of an assault on the C2 class Paracycling Hour Record on the track. This will require 6 weeks of tailored preparation and the support of a lot of people, so I'm not going to confirm this one just yet (but it's definitely in MY plans!)

So stay with me (again) over the next 637 days as I chart this next chapter in my sporting history. I will most certainly be going to Rio - but this time I won't be leaving empty-handed. I hope!