Tuesday, December 25, 2012

New website launched!

This will just be a quick update to let you all know that I have just launched my new website today.  Thanks so much to my good friend Tina for all her help putting it together.  My blog postings will now be via the website at:


If you have subscribed to this blog you can go to the new website and subscribe to my blog there, would love to have you continue to follow my journey!  Thank you to all those that have followed me and I look forward to having you on the new site.

My first blog on the new site is "The Year That Was", hope you enjoy it.
I would also like to hear from you about what you think of the new site and anything that may not be there that you would like to see.  For now enjoy the Christmas season and the New Year and thanks for your patronage.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Very Sad World Today

Today I was going to sit down and write about how my training has been going, how the camp in Bright was and how I feel like things are back on track.  But then I woke to the news that there was yet another shooting in the United States, in another school, with more deaths and my training, camp and being back on track really don't seem to matter.

In the small town of Newtown, Connecticut, a town of about 2000 people, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, which caters to grades Kindergarten to grade 4, so 5-10 year olds, the morning became one of sheer horror.  I can't imagine what the parents of every student in that school went through when they heard that there was trouble at the school.  What we do know now is that 20 children have lost their lives along with 7 adults.  This is such a sad, horrible incident no matter when it happens, but at this time of year when children are looking forward to the holidays and excited about seeing the fat man in a red suit, it seems to make it even worse!

As adults we all know that life is short, but how many of us ever live life to the fullest.  We are always saying "I'll take care of it tomorrow" or "Tomorrow I'll call my...mom, dad, sister, brother, friend".  These children who have been taken from the world way to early had their whole lives to live for, growing up, graduation, university, work, falling in love, becoming parents themselves and raising their own children.  The adults who were killed  had lots of living to do, most of them being teachers who devoted their lives to the children.

A lot of people want to jump up and down today about the gun law's in the States and no doubt there will be lots of arguments and debates in the coming days.  But today we should just take a moment to mourn the loss of 27 people who all had so much to live for.  We should also learn a huge lesson from today, go home and hug your kids, tell those that you love exactly that, "you love them" and realise that life really is short so it's time to live like it matters and experience the fullness of what life really feels like.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Motivation vs. Commitment

I've been finding it hard to find motivation lately.  I seem to target a date to really get back into the swing of things training wise and then something invariably comes up and gets in the way.  Then I seem to find something to spur me on and then again the motivation is gone.

I subscribe to a motivational speaker's website Craig Harper and the other day received an email, one like I regularly get from him, but this one really hit home.  It was titled "Motivation is Not the Answer", so I read on with great interest!  These following lines certainly made me think " Motivation (on its own) rarely leads to any kind of lasting positive transformation.  Commitment, on the other hand, is a non-negotiable mindset.  It's absolute.  It's a force.  Unwavering. Constant. Powerful. Unlike motivation, it's not a day to day proposition; it's your default setting.  It's not a 'sometimes' emotion but rather, an 'all-the-time' habit.  Committed people make things happen, even in the absence of motivation."

This made me realize that I was looking at my training all wrong.  I started thinking back to last October when I decided that I wanted to get fitter and stronger, it was commitment that kept me going.  So it has made me think about what I need to do now that the new year is approaching.  I am currently in country Victoria in the beautiful town of Bright on a cycling camp with my coach and the Kelly Cycle Coaching group.  I have used this as a starting point for concentrating on my next goal, winning the World Cycling Championships in August 2013.  So I have decided that I am not going to focus on motivation but commitment and I have started that process as of yesterday's ride!

My training partner Hannah and I were told to go for a ride between 3-4 hours, just to start building our endurance, so it was decided that we would ride to the town of Beechworth and back.  There was a method in our madness and that was the famous Beechworth Bakery with all its lovely sandwiches, cakes, pastries and coffee!  About 10 km from Beechworth we hit the biggest bloody hill that I have tackled in a while!  It took almost 40 minutes to ride just over 5km due to the 12-14% grade of hill!  I must say that there were definitely a few times that I kept thinking "this is nuts" and wanting to turn around.  But then that word 'commitment' kept popping into my head, so I kept going.  The reward for this was a lovely lunch at the bakery and then the massive downhill ride back to Bright! 

All in all it was the longest ride I have ever accomplished, 118km for the day.  We backed that ride up with a ride today of 65km and I honestly believe that I am well and truly back on track with my training.  We have a week here of beautiful rides with amazing scenery to go along with them and I am looking forward to the commitment of getting ready to attain my next goal.  So thanks to Craig Harper for his wise words of wisdom, I know that my motivation of attaining the status of "World Champion" is in my heart but without the commitment to the training needed, I will never be able to attain this goal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Life Has Been Busy

Although I am now back in full training my social life has certainly not stopped.  It has amazed me at what I have been asked to do and attend.  I know that my last post was about life after the games and I really did think that it would slow down.  In saying that I have been very honoured to have been asked to take part in some functions that have been amazing!  The problem is that I don't own a lot of good dressy party clothes and for the functions I was invited to I definitely need them!

I did have my friends Deb and Vic visiting and we had headed down to Queenscliff and I love shopping there as I always tend to find something.  This trip was no different, Deb and I headed out and I found a beautiful dress that could be worn for 'Black Tie' (dressed up) or just as a party dress (dressed down).  But the fact that there were a number of functions I figured I needed more than just the one dress, so it was a call for help that I put out to my friend Kirsty!  I went "shopping" in her closet and came home with a number of dresses and a hat!

Melbourne Cup
The hat was needed for the Melbourne Cup.  This, for those not Australian is a horse race.  It is probably the only place in the world where we have a public holiday for a horse race.  Well I was invited to 'Cup Day', so this was the first day that I needed an outfit...Kirsty to the rescue!  I would probably never even try on what Kirsty made me try on and it looked good!  Then she said I needed a hat..I don't do hats, but I was made to put it on and it actually looked quite good, in fact I felt very glamorous that day!

Paralympian Of the Year Awards

On the 8th of November I headed up to Sydney for the Paralympian of the Year Awards.  It was a fantastic night to catch up with all my teammates from London, with everyone dressed up, it was interesting to see people without their training gear on!  I had a great time catching up with the cyclists and to make the night even more special our head coach Peter Day was named as Coach of the Year!

It was a wonderful night with a number of our cyclists nominated for awards.  Simone Kennedy for Junior Paralympian of the Year, Felicity Johnson for Female Paralympian of the Year and Kieran Modra won the Presidents Medal which just shows how strong our cycling team was at these Paralympic Games.

National Welcome Home Day
The next day all of the Paralympians were asked to attend a National Welcome Home Parade at the iconic Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.  What an amazing backdrop.  There were a number of school children in attendance with a small amount of Sydneysiders at the Opera House.  It was wonderful to have the kids there as I think that they were the most affected by the Paralympics!  For this we were wearing our team jeans, polo shirt and green/gold shoes. However I had also been invited to have lunch with HRH the Dutchess of Cornwall (aka Camilla) at Government House which happens to be just behind the Opera House.  I couldn't show up in my jeans and polo shirt so I had to do a quick change in the toilets into dress pants, blouse and jacket!  I really was starting to feel like 'Superwoman' changing in a phone booth!

I did make it to lunch with Camilla and thought I would be with a cast of hundreds, but I wasn't!  There were about 30 women there, 3 other paralympians (all swimmers) and the 4 of us had a great chat with her about London, Brands Hatch where I raced and then she held my medal and pictures were taken.  (Unfortunately I am still trying to track down the photo!)

Cyclist of the Year Awards
 It was then time for the Cycling Australia's Cyclist of the Year Awards.  I was honoured to be nominated for Female Paracyclist of the Year along with Sue Powell, Felicity Johnson and Stephanie Morton.  This was a black tie affair which the dress I bought was going to be used at.  It was a spectacular night with good food and company!  Felicity and Stephanie won the award which I was really happy about.  They are a tandem pair and have been undefeated this year with World Records and a Paralympic Record, so they were well deserving of the award.
I came home on Saturday, the following day, to have a well earned rest, although that didn't last long as I was back training on Sunday.

Starry Starry Night Gala Ball
 The past week has just been as busy as I spoke to a school my girlfriends daughter goes to, to a 150 children in years 5-6, did a rowing race in an 8 in the Melbourne Head Regatta, then was invited to be the celebrity host of a table at the Alannah and Madelaine Foundation's Starry Starry Night Gala Ball, then then next morning did a 75km Charity Ride for the Hanover Connecteast Ride for Home. 

My life upon coming home has been an amazing journey, one that I have enthusiastically embraced because of the positive opportunities they have offered!  I have also been lucky to have a very supportive husband and some amazing friends who have travelled some of this journey with me.  As it is now coming up to the holiday season I am sure that the social life won't stop any time soon, but I will be picking up the training intensity over the next couple of weeks leading into a camp the first week of December with my coach.  At least that week I know there will be only one thing on my mind...riding!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Life After the Games

It has been 5 weeks since I landed at home from the most amazing experience of my life, the 2012 London Paralympic Games and what a whirl wind of a 5 weeks it has been!

I have finally taken the next few days off as I literally haven't stopped since arriving home.  Don't get me wrong, it has been absolutely amazing, but I have been pulled from pillar to post with people wanting me to speak at school's, lunches, dinners and functions that I never thought I would ever be at and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  But I also been trying to train as well and the two don't really go hand in hand.  However as they say 'strike when the iron is hot because it won't last forever! 'I have actually been so busy that I have had to get myself a manager because I really have a hard time saying no!   I have been able to say no a few times just because it has been impossible to be in a number of different places at the same time.

I have been able to "go back to my roots" in sport, doing a number of swim sessions and actually getting back in my single scull and go out for a row.  That has been fantastic.  The thing I am finding the hardest to is accept all the accolades of what I have accomplished.  I know it is something that very few people ever achieve but I guess it has been a goal of mine for so long that I don't realise how significant it is for others.

It has been amazing to me how one gold medal brings so much happiness to people who are given the opportunity to hold or wear it.  That is the one thing I think has been really important...to share it around.  Even more important to me is interacting with children at the local schools I have gone to. They are amazing with the intelligent questions they ask and the way their faces light up when they get to hold the medal is priceless.  They are our future and if I can make one child believe in themselves and chase their dream then I have really accomplished something! 

These London Paralympic Games have been a major turning point I believe for those in our community who may live with a disability.  The athletes who have competed have shown the world that they are 'able' and much more 'able' than most people.  I just really hope that we can carry this ideal through to everyday normal life especially in the workforce.  However time will tell if this can be accomplished.

I am however disappointed on one front and that is with the Victorian State Government and the City of Melbourne.  I have had so many people ask me why the Victorian Paralympic athletes haven't had a welcome home parade/gathering and I have found out through sources that the two bodies couldn't get together on 1. a date and 2. didn't want to close a road!  We were invited to one of the prelim AFL final games but even Channel 7 didn't televise it.  We have been invited to a 2 hour meet and greet with the politicians but to me the really important people who have supported us are missing out...the public.  The people I don't even know who sent me Telstra Hero messages, the kids I got letters from and other people who Tweeted or Facebooked me messages, what about letting them share in the excitement?  The Victorian Olympic athletes had a huge welcome home at Fed Square with what I understand were hundreds of people there to meet them. 

So has anything really changed?  If we can't even have parity in celebrating our success then how do we ever hope to have parity in everyday life or business.  I certainly don't know what the answer is, but I think we as a community should continue to try and chip away at those road blocks and let our elected politicians know that we won't stand for it.

As for me I will continue to "strike while the iron is hot", train for some local competition and aim to win that World Champion jersey next year!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Journey Home

I've decided that it pays to win a gold medal!  All gold medal winners were treated to Business Class seats all the way from London to Sydney.  It has totally ruined me for flying Economy again so I have to figure out how to make lots of money to always fly Business Class or find a generous sugar daddy! (sorry Russ :-) )

The Australian Paralympic Committee chartered a flight for the entire team.  Just about 400 people, athletes, coaches and staff, so logistically you would think it would be a nightmare.  Getting all that luggage and people from the Paralympic Village, to the airport and making sure that all of it was tagged properly to all the individuals home states.  But I must say I have never been involved in something so big that ran so well!  We were all given times to check our luggage at the village, have it loaded on to a van, have ourselves booked on a bus and then go through the process again once we got to the airport.

And even wearing Qantas PJ's
 The Qantas staff were amazing and so friendly.  And being in Business Class we were treated like royalty!  I think the best part was being able to lie flat and sleep.  The first leg was London to Bangkok, a 10 hour flight and it was the fastest 10 hour flight I have ever been on!  I slept for about 6 hours of it and the rest of the time was taken up eating or watching the entertainment system.  We stopped in Bangkok for a refuel and a change of staff and then it was back up in the sky and head for Sydney and I got another 4-5 hours sleep. We were told there was quite the reception waiting for us in Sydney.

Waiting media

Upon our touch down in Sydney we were greeted with a water cannon welcome by the fire brigade and the gold medallists were asked to exit the plane first, wearing our medals.  At this point we were greeted by Acting Prime Misister Wayne Swan, the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, a number of other politicians, Greg Hartung the President of the APC and a number of photographers and tv cameras!  We then headed through Immigration and through the baggage area where we then waited for the rest of the team to assemble.  We were then ushered through a door to waiting media and families with music blaring.  The amount of cameras was amazing and the families and friends waiting for the athletes were cheering and clapping.  All around the walls of the room we were in, were large blown up photos of some of the athletes and a number of tv screens that were showing video footage.  There was a short ceremony hosted by Stephani Brantz and a number of speeches, then more photos and interviews of athletes.

I, along with a number of others left the room to make our way over to another terminal to catch our next flight.  I couldn't wait to get home, I wanted to share my experiences with Russ and all my family and friends.

Upon my arrival in Melbourne my coach, Helen, was there to greet me.  It was great giving her a big hug, showing her my medal and thanking her for being my coach.  Arriving home was even better when I was able to hug my husband!  Boy I certainly missed that!  It was fantastic being home and I have organized a number of social gatherings of friends from different areas of my life in order to celebrate with thme and than them for their support throughout my campaign.  Without their support this dream would have never been fulfilled.

So where to from here?  The World Championships are in Canada next year and I missed out on that World Championship win last year, so I will be out to get that title. 

Then who knows...I've never been to Rio!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Journey Comes to a Close

This amazing experience is coming to an end and what an experience it has been!

There are so many things I would like to tell readers about but I don't think I would be able to do some of them justice.  How do you truly explain the hype and vibe of over 4000 incredibly talented athletes in one village speaking every language you can imagine in the world.  Or of having athletes from nations who are at war with each other actually being on the same sporting ground competing or sitting in the dining hall just meters away from each other without nary a bullet being fired?  I've seen people, with disabilities so severe that not that many years ago would have been locked away and forgotten, up on a podium receiving medals with smiles on their faces brighter than the sun!

How do I explain the feeling of thumping that goes through your entire body while walking into the athletics stadium for the closing ceremonies, when you hear 90,000 people cheering...incredible!  It is all too fantastic for words.  I hope that when I am home to just put a blog together with photos, maybe that will help, but it wont do  the sights or sounds justice.

I think that the one thing that has stood out here is that every athlete whether a podium finisher or not, was happy to be here and share in the joy of knowing that they had done their best to make through these doors.  Yes we all want to be winners but that didn't stop those who didn't win a medal from approaching those that did and congratulating them.  I am sure that there are those that were disappointed at their results but the only tears I saw were tears of joy and that was so refreshing!

I have made some incredible friends here over the last week or so and bonded with teammates and staff, a bond that will last a lifetime.  I have been able to share this experience with family, my mom Phyllis, my sister Cindy and my aunt Marjorie and that has been priceless!  It has been an experience I will take to my grave and who knows maybe even experience it again in Rio!

My sister gave me a card that said "Behind very success is effort...Behind every effort is passion...Behind every passion is someone with the courage to try".  I hope that others who have followed my journey will use these words.  

Thank you London for a truly remarkable experience!