Saturday 26 December 2009

Snow Go Area and Goodbye to Santa.

The weather over the past couple of weeks has been really awful, and especially over the past week when the snow came and stayed. As an athlete this has meant indoor training on rollers down at Harlow Sports Centre, and my usuall strength and conditioning training with my coach, John Campbell. I have been working really hard over the past few months and I'm looking forward to the New Year and the challenges ahead.
I've also been learning to swim and Neil Mann from Stewards School here in Harlow is the unlucky one trying to help me. I have never met such a patient person as Neil. He is an excellent teacher and has been working with me, off and on, over the past year. I must admit to finding it difficult to slot the time for swimming into my busy schedule, especially on these freezing cold winter nights, and when I got into the pool last week it was my first time for about 8 weeks. I managed to swim 8 breadths of the pool unaided and Neil was convinced I must have been having secret training elsewhere! I haven't and my success is all down to Neils patience and my own determination. It's good to learn new skills and my next target is to pass my driving test. I passed the theory so now its just the manual driving to master. I'll do it!
Outside of my sporting life I have been just like everyone else and getting ready for Christmas. Timothy, my son who is 8, is beginning to question the existence of Santa and wonders why he can't deliver presents to children in Africa, and do us parents give him the money for his presents. It's sad but inevitable that I think this is probably his last Christmas of believing in Santa. It's all part of growing up, at least in the developed world. As a child growing up in Kenya there was no such thing as Santa. We just woke up on Christmas Day and if we were lucky would be given a new dress or pair of shoes which would be proudly shown off at church. For us, the true nature of Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I feel that has largely been forgotten here in the U.K, at least it has if you have to judge by the media.
Anyway, it was still a delight to see Tim's face at 8.15am on Christmas morning as he opened his gifts, and to watch him happily playing throughout the day. I was shattered by the time I finally got to bed but it was a great day with the family. Roll on New Year.

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Thursday 10 December 2009

Training and Training and More Training!

After the celebration of a 1000 days to the 2012 Paralympics I suddenly realised that it doesn'r really leave me with a lot of time to get myself in tip top shape so I went straight out onto the road on Saturday and did my usual session. My route has quite a few hills, and with the bitter wind blowing in my face and my nose running it is really exhausting. When your nose is running and you're gasping for breath you realise that being an athlete is not very glamorous. I have to push up the long slope past Parndon Crematorium and that's when it is really hurting and my arms feel like jelly. Sometimes I feel like taking a right turn and getting it over and done with! What drives me to keep pushing to the end is my determination to do well. The best bit is when I start to make my way downhill and I can see the road to my house. This is where my coach always reminds me to work on my arm speed so no coasting for me, just more hard work.
When I get the chance to 'glam up' I jump at it and so on Tuesday I attended a fund raising champagne reception in the Natural History Museum in London organised by Save The Children, a charity that has touched my heart. It reminds me of growing up in Kenya and as a mother myself I know how important childhood is in forming who we become as adults. There were so many stars there I thought I was in the Planetarium instead!It was a great honour to meet the Princess Royal. I also enjoyed meeting Louis Barnett because he is a chocolatier and had designed a Christmas Tree and Santa made out of chocolate which was to be auctioned for the charity. Hasbro had a fantastic tree also, made of small toy ponies. But the most amazing tree was one made by Ethiopian children who have benefitted from being helped by Save the Children. It was made out of sisal and was beautifully coloured. It was a lovely evening and it made a nice change from training.

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Friday 4 December 2009

1000 Days to the 2012 Paralympics.

On Thursday I attended a fantastic event at Mark Hall Sports College in Harlow to celebrate a 1000 days to the start of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. There were a lot of disabled children there to try out a wide variety of sports and they all seemed to have a great time. Who knows, we might even see some of them actually participating in the Paralympics in the future. Harlow has already produced three Paralympians in Noel Thatcher, the late, great, Isobel Newstead, and myself and it would be truly fantastic if we could add a few more in the years to come.
In the evening it was back to the gym for another session on the dreaded rollers. My muscles ached after a really hard session but I basked in the afterglow in a hot bath feeling really good about myself and what I'd achieved. I'm feeling really positive about myself and feel confident that if I can remain injury free I will do really well in the coming season.
Of course, athletes have Christmas to celebrate as well and my eight year old son, Tim, has to be the centre of my attention so I'll have to take a couple of weeks off to enjoy his pleasure and excitement at the arrival of Santa in just three weeks time, not to mention having to shop for the toys to put in Santa's sack! Come the start of the year it'll be back to my routine of training 6 days a week.

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Boxing Clever.

On Monday it was a heavy session in the gym on rollers because the weather was still bad. I sweated and worked really hard to build up my stamina.
On Tuesday it was off to the annual President's Sporting Club Christmas Party for disabled children. I love this event because the kids are presented with trophies and medals for their achievements throughout the year and its great to see their joy at being rewarded for their efforts. Frank Bruno and John Conteh were there and it was lovely to see how well they got on with the children, especially Frank, who always makes them laugh. He is a really lovely man and I felt really proud to be in the company of two boxing legends. Also present were actress Sandra Dickinson, Bill Murray from Eastenders, Paralympian Fran Williamson, and Eammon Martin. It was a really enjoyable event.
After that I had to travel up to London for a meeting so when I returned home in the evening I felt exhausted but happy at such a productive day.

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