Monday, 13 June 2016

I'm going to Rio!!!!!

It's official - Ive been selected and I'm going to Rio!
I recently received an email asking what being selected for Rio means to me.
I sat there numbly staring at that email as the words slowly began to sink in - "selected for Rio"...
It's the first time I've stopped and realised what a massive deal this actually is. It sounds odd but I've been so focused on taking each step at a time, on learning how to paddle while trying to compensate for my limitations. I've been so busy learning to be the best paddler that I can possibly be, that I haven't really had the chance to think what going to Rio would actually mean to me. 
Being the best that I can be - world champion!

In practical terms it means that I’m the fastest KL3 200m paracanoeist in Great Britain, and that come September I'm going to be representing my Country at the Rio Paralympics. This makes me incredibly proud and also hugely nervous –Yikes! I’m going to be performing on a global stage!

But reflecting further I realised that "being selected for Rio" means much, much more to me than that.

Four years ago I was prompted to aim for a bold, impossible, crazy and, let’s be realistic, unlikely dream. But knowing all that didn't put me off wanting to go for it. I had been in a bad place after my injury and wanted to pull myself out of that.  Volunteering at London 2012 had been a step in the right direction, but in going for that new dream of aiming for Rio I was looking to prove to myself that optimism wins; that a door forced closed didn't mean that all my doors were closed.

I chose to walk through a different door and aim for something completely new. Working at London 2012 and seeing incredible examples of human resilience had inspired me. So I decided, following a suggestion from a fellow Gamesmaker that I was going to learn how to paddle a boat and aim for Rio.
Working at london 2012 

I have gained so much more than Rio selection from this journey, (one that could have ended at any time because that is the fickle nature of elite sport), that even not making it or not being selected would have definitely made it worth going for. 

 What being selected means is that even the most unlikely dreams can happen if you can find and open the right door and have the right team around you.   

Being selected for Rio motivates me to work even harder. Come September I want to know that I've done everything possible to put me on the start line saying, "Yay, I'm here. I’ve done the work. Bring it on, I'm ready to race!!!" 

And whatever the outcome I hope that my selection – a 49 year-old working Mum competing on the biggest stage in the world – confirms to others watching that optimism and bold dreams will always power through the barriers we put up ourselves.

Race lake in Rio


  1. Such an inspiring story. My 15 year old daughter had cauda equina syndrome through Spondylolisthesis and had nerve decompression & spinal fusion surgery 2 years ago. She also has limited range of movement in both ankles & right need due to a spinal tumour at birth.

    She is just getting back into sport after 2 years but is finding running & cycling hard (she used to do triathlons).

    Reading your story makes me wonder whether para-canoeing might be an option. It's something I'd never considered but would love to learn more.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. paracanoeing sounds like something she could do. if you contact the parasport website they should be able to point you in the right direction. Good luck!