Thursday 30 August 2012

God is Great.

I have been training with Dedeline from the Democratic Republic of  Congo and trying to improve her pushing technique. Her country have managed to get her put into the T54 100m instead of the 1500m and I am looking forward to seeing her race. I really hope I can have the opportunity to work with her again in the future because I would love to help another African woman do well in sport.

On Sunday I once again had the great privilege of speaking in St. Paul's Cathedral at the 'Courage and Faith: The Opening Service for the London 2012 Paralympic Games'. It was a lovely service and once again made me give thanks to God for giving me such great experiences. The Haiti team were there and it was lovely to see them in such grand surroundings. I also felt proud that my son was there to support me.

I am so grateful to the officials f who have managed to get me accreditation to go anywhere on the Paralympic site, a V.I.P pass, including the Paralympic Village. It was great to go there and see old friends from many different countries who I have met during the course of my racing career.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I had the immense privilege of carrying the Paralympic Torch. I was in a team of 5 representing the wonderful charity AbleChild Africa which supports disabled children in Kenya. The team was; Jane Anthony, Simiyu Barasa, Shikuku Obosi, Fred Ouko and myself. We carried the Torch from the entrance to London Zoo and were cheered on by big crowds. I was totally overwhelmed and emotional when it came to my turn to carry the torch, and couldn't help but think how far I'd come since leaving Kenya in 2000. Once again my family and friends were there to cheer me on and support me. It was a totally awesome experience and I will cherish my own torch for ever.

After carrying the torch I came home to Harlow, had something to eat, got changed, then headed back to London to appear on ITV London evening news. The Media Centre overlooks the Paralympic site and it was a wonderful experience to watch the huge crowds heading for the main stadium to watch the opening ceremony. I could have attended in person with my pass but to be honest I was on the verge of collapse after such an emotional day that I decided to travel home to Harlow to watch it all on tv with my son.

 I did enjoy the opening ceremony but thought the music being played as the countries entered the stadium was very bad. I wondered if the people who organised it have ever heard of Staff Benda Bilili, a fantastic band of polio survivors from Congo. If they had played I guarantee the whole stadium would have rocked. Perhaps they are saving them for the closing ceremony? Also, there was no humour as there had been with Mr Bean and the Queen. Why not? If anyone enjoys a laugh it's us differently able people. However, I did enjoy watching the man with no legs flying through the air. Who ever thought the disabled could fly?

Today I have been filming with Sir Matthew Pinsent for a documentary that features another Kenyan polio survivor, Alex. It was lovely to see Alex try his hand at different sports, something he has never experienced in his life in Kenya, and also seeing him interact with the members of Harlow All Ability group. It will be interesting to watch when it is aired.Watch this space.

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Monday 13 August 2012

A Fantastic Fortnight.

Hello friends, I have been so busy over the past few weeks that I haven't managed to find time to do this blog. However, here I am now with quite a bit to catch up on so here I go.

On the evening of the Olympic Opening Ceremony I was the guest of 'Right to Play' at an event hosted by Polycom in London. I did manage to get home to Harlow to see most of it and I enjoyed the history that was portrayed. It was a fantastic spectacle and my favourite moment was 'Mr Bean' (Rowan Atkinson). That really made me laugh. I also enjoyed the Queen and James Bond, though I've had to try very hard to convince my African friends that Her Majesty didn't really parachute into the stadium! It was a great start to a fantastic fortnight.

I wasn't that enthralled by the opening week of bikes, boats, and horses but it was nice to see Team GB do so well. It was the athletics that really gripped me and there were so many memorable moments; Usain Bolt winning 3 Gold medals and making me smile with his antics, Mo Farah, of course for his truly incredible double in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres, Jessica Ennis, and a favourite of mine, Christine Ohuruogu. It was all really exciting. Mind you, I was disappointed with my motherland, Kenya, who did not do as well as I had been hoping. The World Record and Gold medal for David Rudisha was very special.

In between watching the Olympics on telly I've been working with a woman from the Congo, Dedeline, who lost her limbs in a landmine accident when she was 18. She is now 30 and will be representing her country in the 1500 metres in the upcoming Paralympic Games. I can really identify with her journey and have given her a racing chair and some equipment so she can do herself justice. I've been helping her with pushing techniques and training with her.

On a much sadder note the murder of schoolgirl Tia Sharp. It has been horrifying to see the case unfold. Unbelievable that whilst her family were frantically searching for her, her body lay hidden in her grandmothers loft. How the grandmothers boyfriend could calmly join in the search, and appeal for her to return home whilst all the time he knew he had murdered her! It reminded me of Ian Huntley. Very, very sad.

On Saturday afternoon  I took my son, Tim, to see the legend that is Tommie Smith at the premier of the film; 'Return to Mexico City'. It was a lovely film but also very inspirational as we saw Tommie and John Carlos return to the scene of their 'black power' salute 40 years on. Tommie spoke afterwards and Tim was enthralled at his story. Tommie signed his book,'Silent Gesture' to Tim with the words;'Education is a Must!' I'm sure Tim will never forget meeting him, and neither will I. A REAL legend.

The closing ceremony wasn't as brilliant as the opening but it did the trick. My favourite was George Michael singing,'Freedom, but I also enjoyed the Spice Girls, Queen, John Lennon and Take That. I thought it was very brave of Gary Barlow after his recent tragic loss. Let's hope the athletes will inspire the next generation of sports people in the same way British music inspires.

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