The months post World Championships have been pretty busy. However I have delayed writing a blog before now as I was waiting to be able to announce my latest good news and, to a large extent, what my 2014 season was geared towards. I am a member of the British Paratriathlon UK Sport Lottery funded World Class Podium squad for 2015. The full squad was launched in Loughborough this week and can be found here.
With the categories that will race in triathlon in the Paralympic Games in 2016 now confirmed, this is the first time that paratriathlon has received podium level funding, the highest level of funding UK Sport provides to elite athletes. Whilst I met UK Sport’s criteria for podium funding with my bronze medal at the World Championships in August, I was not completely confident that I would secure the funding as the third placed British athlete in my category. So, what does this mean going forwards?
From 1st January 2015 I am taking a sabbatical from my professional career at Deloitte to enable me to focus 100% on training and racing. I am extremely grateful to Deloitte, and in particular Deloitte Forensic, for providing me with this opportunity and for all of its support since I started competing in paratriathlon in 2009. I am in no doubt that without Deloitte’s flexibility and willingness to accommodate my needs as an athlete, I would not have achieved what I have in triathlon, particularly in the last two years.
I am very excited with the plans we are working on for the next 21 months to the Paralympic Games, particularly now that I have the opportunity to give absolutely everything I have to be on the start line of the inaugural Paralympic triathlon. For the first time Rio 2016 has become very real. A favourite question I have often been asked in career discussions at Deloitte is “where do I see myself in five and ten years”. Suffice to say when asked those questions five and ten years ago I would never have dreamt of being in this position. When I quit swimming in 1996, I vowed never to race at elite level again. How life changes and I’m very happy!
Obviously I could not do any of this without the continued support of my sponsors. In 2015 I have already confirmed that I will continue to work with Dassi bikes and PACE Rehabilitation. I am also delighted to be supported directly by Zone3 wetsuits in 2015, having raced in the Victory D in 2014 as part of the Dassi Elite Women’s team. A big thank you to everyone.
During my post-World Championships break from training, I used the spare time I had to support my sponsors. I spent a wonderful late summer day riding from Haydock race course to Penrith as part of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain. This is Deloitte’s annual corporate challenge which sees over 240 Deloitte partners, people and clients cycling the iconic Lands End to John O’Groats route across Britain. This year over 800 people completed the nine day challenge and since its inception in 2010 over £1.4 million has been raised for ParalympicsGB. One day I will complete the full ride but whilst my focus is on Rio 2016 I am delighted to be able to support Deloitte and the event by riding a day stage.
I also spent a fun filled morning at the ArcticOne Junior Paratriathlon in early September. ArcticOne is supporting me this year by providing funds for a bespoke arm for biking on my road bike in training, which is currently being designed and made by PACE Rehabilitation. The Junior Paratriathlon is a fantastic, safe triathlon aimed at children under 18 with any type of disability. It is all about having fun and so children have a choice of distances and can even pick certain disciplines which they want to do. 15 children returned from last year as well as an additional 17 children taking part in their first ever triathlon. This is a great introduction to triathlon for these children and what grass roots sport and participation is all about.
ArcticOne organises a number of events throughout the year including in June 2015 the ArcticOne Tri and Paratri festival. Held at Dorney Lake, the London 2012 Olympic rowing venue, this is a good opportunity for anyone interested in competing in a triathlon, irrespective of their disability, on flat, closed roads around Dorney Lake. The organisation of these events is second to none so please check out the website.
Since returning to training, my attention has been on creating a strong and robust base which I hope to build upon in 2015. In mid-November I decided to see exactly where my winter fitness is with a hard hit-out at the Hillingdon Triathletes’ Duathlon at Minet Park cycle circuit in West London. It was my first race since World Championships and I even had to rebuild my Dassi TT bike the day before as it was still in the box in which it returned from Edmonton. It was definitely a hard race but good fun and I was very pleased to finish third in the ladies’ race. It was also great to share the podium with my T2Coaching training buddy, Jess Wenlock, who finished second, despite still being a junior.
Now that the nights are drawing in and the weather has definitely turned colder, I’m looking forward to escaping to Lanzarote next week for seven days of swimming, biking and running in some winter sun before the chaos of Christmas. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and here’s to a happy and successful 2015.