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!!


  1. Carol,what an incredible week Cindy , Marjorie and I had.It was the most exciting day of my life.
    We are going to save up for Rio, so you better be prepared to hear our shouts again.
    My chest is still bursting with pride and no matter where I go I continue to let everyone know that I am a Golden Mom.
    Love, mom

    1. Mom, it was so special to share this with all of you! You keep wearing that title Golden Mom as long as you want!
      Love you

  2. Carol you're an absolute star. I hope you get a well deserved break for a little while. Can't wait to see you competing in Rio!

  3. Hi there niece:

    Go Rio go! Right on kid.

    Love you forever - Rheta and Robert

  4. Hi Carol, glad you enjoyed the star treatment on the flight home. It wasn't too bad in cattle class and I did manage to sleep quite a bit although I am still jet lagged! Sorry I missed you at the reception which was a great welcome home for a great team. I probably will not see you again due to my retirement, so please accept my best wishes for the path you wish to travel.

    Alan D.

    1. Alan, thank you for everything you did for me, without your treatments I wouldn't have been out there racing! Best of luck in whatever you continue to do and you never know I may see you around the traps!

  5. As a woman living with a physical disability, thanks for such an inspiring story!! Glad you had such a wonderful time!

    1. You are more than welcome Melissa, I hope it inspires you to follow your dreams no matter what they are. No matter what your disabilies there are always dreams out there to reach, we may just have to do them a bit differently than we expected!