I hope everyone is keeping well. What a month it has been since we last spoke!! The competition season is now moving into high gear, things are getting busy with a number of competitions now under my belt. Training has been great and what we all need now is some summer weather!!!
Since my last blog, I had a regional competition/training session, in Crettyard in County Laois. For qualifying standards to count, they must be achieved at a competition sanctioned/licensed by the International Governing Body. As this was not a licensed competition, it did not count for qualification for London, so the atmosphere was very relaxed.
However, this was another chance to move on, practise competition and get a couple of measured throws in each event. I finished up with 8.78 in the Shot Putt, a new personal best (Pb), a big jump up from 8.46 the previous weekend. The Javelin was ok; I finished with 20 meters dead however my Discus was brilliant. I finished with a couple of twenty nine metre throws, consistently big distances for me and my first time to achieve this in competition. I left County Laois happy with a Pb in both the Shot Putt and Discus, not bad for a weekends work.
Next up was the Irish Nationals in Santry. As usual I travelled up the day before and stayed the night in a hotel usually an early start is vital to get the right rest and recovery to make sure I am in tip top shape for next day. This is my favourite event of the year and I really wanted to perform well and throw down a marker (no pun intended)!!!! Training had gone really well during the week, especially Discus, so I was looking forward to a good day. I was pretty nervous on the morning, a bit more than usual. I just wanted to get in there and do it.
Discus was the first event in the morning. I was throwing 6th out of 8 so I had plenty of time to do a good warm up and stretch. Once that was done I felt more relaxed and ready to go. The field area around the competition can be a difficult environment so having a bit of banter with the rest of the squad in the area keeps me calm as I don’t want to get too hyped up. I started slowly out of the blocks with my first three throws so I had to raise my game for the second three. I did this successfully with my last throw going out to 30.27. A new pb and over that magical thirty barrier at last!!! More importantly this was an A standard for London. The day couldn’t have started any better. I wasn’t using my own discus and was throwing using a team mate’s Discus in the competition. They will claim it was their Discus but I’d like to think it wasn’t only that which got me over the thirty metre mark. I didn’t find out until later but I was the first seated thrower with cerebral palsy in Ireland to throw over thirty meters in Discus. That was nice also.
I was hauled in for a drug test after Discus which is a bit of hassle but people have a job to do and this is to be expected. I am used to it at this stage, but just my luck to have been to the bathroom just before being called.
Javelin was next and I still hadn’t given a sample, I was in and out between the competition and testing areas for a while. Again I finished up with distances of twenty’s in Javelin. I was really happy as the doping control did not affect my concentration or performance. There was a bit of speed missing from my javelin but it was a good round as I went back using my old throwing frame which had been going better in training. My PB is 21.01metres, but hitting twenty’s consistently is the only way I can move on again to pass that.
Later in the evening was Shot Putt and I was fairly knackered by then. Shot Putt is my least favourite event and I don’t focus my training around it, so anything I get is a bonus. It was the end of a long day there was nothing to lose so I just went for it. Boom, another PB 9.02! An Irish record, but more importantly it was 18cm away from an A qualifier for London. An unexpected surprise, but Job done, time to move on.
During the week I was invited to a presentation of a cheque from Renault Ireland to Paralympics Ireland one of the team sponsors leading up to 2012. This was great day as they have a great interest in how things are going for the athletes and are keen to learn as much as possible. It’s great to have them on board to help spread the word of Paralympic sport in Ireland. The presentation involved a photo shoot and I now know that a future in modelling is not on the cards for me!!
Honestly I knew there was big discus performance in me by the way training has been going. I just had to transfer training into a competition situation. The following weekend we had the Clonliffe 125 Track and Field Grand Prix in Santry. This was a little different as it was an evening competition opposed to one held all day. Again I tried to keep things as normal as possible, same warm up, stretching etc. Discus was up first and it went really well, finishing up with 3 throws over 29 meters but again, I was slow out of the traps. Javelin was second and this felt like a strange competition. I finished up with 4 throws over 20 meters and a new PB of 21.20 this was of the A standard.
Strangely, I was not happy with the style or technique but somehow I managed personnel best. As my coach said, “what will happen when I get it right?”. The Shot Putt was last up and I went in totally relaxed and had 5 putts over 9.02. I finished up with 9.27, another Irish record and far more importantly seven cm over the A qualifier of 9.20. I was absolutely buzzing and didn’t sleep a wink Friday night. Maybe it was all the ice cream after dinner, who knows, but an athlete needs a treat and this certainly was in order. It is not every day you come away with two Irish records and two A qualifiers.
Next up is the British Nationals in Stoke Mandeville. I can’t wait for this comp as there should be a great entry and the Stoke is affectively the Birthplace of The Paralympics. It will be a huge thrill to compete there with all the history attached. In the mean time I just need to keep driving forward working hard and just make sure that I do the right things. The seasons not over yet and there’s a lot more to-do. For now I am right where I need to be and on the right track towards London Looking forward to keeping you updated.
Ray in action at Clonliffe
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