When i first lost my leg one of my many dreams was to run again, not competitively but to get some normality back into my life. turned out (once i got one of those fancy running legs) i wasn't half bad on the track.
Fast forward 6 years, two Paralympic games , a gold and silver medal and world records later , I was still hungry for more. I didn't realise the London 2012 Paralympic games would be my last international competition for athletics.
My ankle was just holding it together when i jumped for that Gold medal in London and once i returned home it seemed to finally fall apart! There were days i could'nt even put my foot on the floor in the morning, but there were also days where i made it to training.
I also started to struggle mentally and came to dislike a sport i used to love and only months ago was number 1 in. I stepped back from the track for a little while and focused on fixing my ankle.
I went in for surgery and came out knowing i would need atleast 6 months off.
I took that time to enjoy life, to travel for myself and not just for my sport, to catch up with friends i hadn't seen in awhile. I expected to be back on the track with a full recovery in no time.
Basically what I have is - Osteochondal lesion of the talus. Summary- damaged cartilage & bone. Although the surgery was some what successful it turned out my ankle would never make a full recovery, i was one of the lucky ones that had a larger lesion...
It actually didn't help the pain and swelling at all ( only now with no running for a few years has the swelling & pain gone down).
There is no fix to my ankle problem and even knowing that, i still continued to try and make a come back to the track many times. Every doctor i saw told me to stop running, that i may not be able to walk properly in 10/20 years from further damage.
One thing I struggled with, and still do, is that the London Games were just the beginning of my career and I felt I was no where near my potential, I think that is a huge reason why i never gave it in officially , and why i still find it hard to come to terms with.
I had a lot of people in my corner, helping me, pushing me to be the best i could be off the track so when or if i made my return i would be in the best shape i could be, but that's when i found myself in the Gym almost everyday and to be honest i LOVED it,
I've always loved the gym, pushing heavy weights and secretly trying to beat everyone else there! That's why it made so much sense to me to give Para-Powerlifting a go. I thought i knew bench press, in fact i thought i was pretty good at it, turns out i knew nothing haha
Here i was thinking bench press surely can't be more technical than Long jump, but it turns out to me it was!
Not only did i have to go from feet down while benching to feet up, i went from touch and go, to holding the weight on my chest to a complete stop and pause.
When i first approached my coach Simon Bergner a year ago now he was more than keen to help build me into a competitive Powerlifter. One thing he told me from the beginning is that to become a great lifter it takes years and I'm slowly learning that.... i need to let go of my ego and realise this is so new to me, i started somewhere in athletics and now i need to start somewhere in Lifting.
However i was lucky enough to qualify for the Commonwealth Games this year! it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I loved the new atmosphere lifting seems to have, to me its so friendly, so encouraging and so motivating.
Although I came 7th, i came away with three legal lifts, two PBs and hungry for more. Bodyweight- 47kgs - lifted - 64kgs. This puts me ranked 6th in the world in my weight category.
For now its about following the process all the way to the 2020 Tokyo games. First stop is Japan in September for World Champs.
Ill always miss running, and to be honest ill never say never... but I now know I'm not invincible and i need to take care of all my parts i still have left!
What i wanted to leave you with today is one of my favourite quotes
- " Change is inevitable , Growth is optional". Sometimes we can't change what happens to us, but what we can change is how we move forward. Make something out of a new situation, good or bad. You never know what your capable of until you try.