So I came back from Rio with more than a sun tan….
It was such an honour and amazing opportunity to have been selected to go to Rio Paralympics as part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme. I took away so much from 6 days we had!
We travelled over as group of 14 comprising of 11 athletes, 1 psychologist and 2 coaches, all selected on to the programme and there to learn from the games experience. We had a hand book which had 10 learning modules in it. Everyday was very much a learning day and we had to try and observe as an athlete and not get too involved as a spectator… This was obviously quite difficult when you got consumed by the atmosphere.
We learnt what it was like to live as a Paralympian, getting access to the athlete village, food hall and also the accommodation. And also we got access to the British House, where athletes, friends, family and media go to chill out away from the village and competition environment. This was a fantastic experience and we really got a feel for being part of Paralympic GB family.
“So many personal goals achieved alongside what I need to change or work on to better improve my own performance and get me on track for Tokyo!”
We also learnt how to compete as a Paralympian, covering areas on how to compete under pressure, how to get about at the games – scale and size, transport systems and accessibility. We learnt how to manage our energy, hydration, media management and anti doping.
I really felt I learnt a lot about myself, and faced many challenges from navigating Heathrow, travelling on my first long haul flight since my accident, and travelling outside the UK for the first time since my accident to learning to manage my energy levels on very long days and in the heat!
The Paralympic Inspiration Programme is a fantastic idea for those athletes likely to be going out to the next Games, to give them an idea of what to expect, rather than being chucked in at the deep end at their first major championships. Thank you Emma for sharing your experiences of the trip, and we hope to be watching you out in Tokyo 2020!