Long, overdue update

Hi everyone,

So much has happened since I last updated and this may be very long, but bear with me!

Ok so haven’t updated since before the Europeans…whoops! Well the Euros went ok, we secured a bronze medal and qualification for this years World Champs, which is what we set out to do.  Obviously a gold or silver medal would have been fab, but qualification is just as important. The Netherlands came away with the gold in a thrilling final…it was such a good game and the Dutch deserved that gold, the improvements I have seen from that team over the years has been brilliant and I wish them all the success for the future (as long as they don’t stand in the way of my GB girls!)

After the Euros I had a busy few weeks of appearances – one of them was at the Back to the Stadium run and helped out handing goodie bags to the runners as they crossed the line and the Color Run. The color run was so much fun, Louise Sugden was there with a couple of her work mates as well. Joshua was hilarious and had a brilliant time. We managed to raise nearly £600 for cancer research uk so I was really happy.

Then at the end of August my wonderful Daddy lost his battle with cancer. It was the worst time in my life. I don’t feel up to typing out all the ins and outs, but we were fortunate (in a sense) that it was quick. He suffered a gastro intestinal haemorrhage which caused an aortic perforation.  I had been speaking to him on the phone and when my mum came home from seeing her mother after work she found him, phone still in hand. It was a huge shock as he had been doing a lot better and he sounded perfectly fine when I was talking to him. The funeral, as you can imagine was difficult. I managed to read out something I had written and my niece sang beautifully. It still doesn’t feel real that he’s gone, I still imagine ringing up my parents house and speaking to him or whenever Josh plays the piano too loud just waiting for him to come and tell him to turn it down. I will add the poem when I’m on the computer as I can’t type it out on here properly.

Around mid October I had decided that I wanted to retire from international basketball. There were several reasons, but it was mainly due to the team centralising and I wasn’t able to commit the time needed and I couldn’t carry on knowing that everyone else was putting all this work in and I wasn’t able to. It wouldn’t have been fair. Along with the fact how much time I would have had to spend away from home, it all felt too much. And with what happened with my daddy I realised I spend too much time away from my family and it has been effecting Josh. I have done 3 Paralympics and so much in my time as a GB player it just felt like the right time. I wish the girls all the best for the future and I will be following their progress and at some point I hope to be involved with the team in some capacity. Press release: http://www.gbwba.org.uk/gbwba/index.cfm/news/gbs-sarah-grady-announces-retirement-from-international-competition/

After an awful few months Mike and I found out some really fantastic news! I’m expecting our second child! I’m currently 16 weeks, and as I’m having a planned section this time I know when little baby bear (nickname we have given this bubba!) will be born, so we’re not going to be finding out the gender! Baby bear will be here on the 24th June…! :)

Oh I have rebranded back to my original blog name ‘Up in Clouds of Pink’ so I can go back to my random thoughts, instead of always having to be coherent!!

Love & Hugs

S x


Busy busy busy!

Started writing this a month ago and haven’t had a chance to finish it, so a bit of this doesn’t really make much sense, but regardless I’m still gonna make you read it!

So since my last post I feel like I have been in a whirlwind, swept along and I don’t feel like I’m going to slow down any time soon.  We’ve had training camps, I’ve had some bad news (family wise), work has been very busy and we have tournaments coming up where I’m trying to organise child care for Josh…so much going on! Not to mention I’ve had to plan for our afternoon at Buckingham Palace!

Training is going well, we’re all making small improvements every time we’re together so all is looking good.  Just need to hit the top all together and we should be awesome!  We have the ability to be awesome, just need the confidence in ourselves.

We go to Germany tomorrow for the Europeans and after the tournament we had against Canada last week we are almost there with our confidence. I believe we can do very very well in these Europeans and show that our 7th place at London was not where we should have been.

In the middle of all this we found out that my daddy has oesophagael cancer, he started his treatment 4 weeks ago.  It’s been really tough finding this out, you always think your parents are indestructible – I believe that he will get through this but it’s been tough finding this out and taken it’s toll on me.  I have been worried and not taken it well at all. My husband is being a fantastic support, love him very much.

We went to Buckingham Palace on the 30th May and it was amazing, I have some photos but as I’m on my kindle you’ll have to wait until I’m back on the computer!

I need to go and finish packing for Germany and brain is not functioning so can’t remember what else I wanted to say, when I think of it and have time I will be back! I will be tweeting to keep you updated with how we are doing in Germany but you can also look on the official website.

Oh Josh, Mike and I are doing the Colour Run in London on the 14th July. It’s a 5km run where you get covered in coloured powder stuff. We’re raising money for Stand Up To Cancer in conjunction with Cancer Research UK and I have a just giving website set up. I would really appreciate any donations you could give, big or small. The link is either on the right of my blog (could be on the bottom if you’re on a mobile device) or click here.

I will post again soon!

Love & Hugs
S x


Round up of games vs The Netherlands

Last week we played The Netherlands in a 5 game head to head series. It was a great opportunity for us to see how we were doing in preparation for the Europeans as this was our first games against international competition since London.  We also had 4 rookies, were missing Hooch & Lou and had two brand new coaches who had only taken us for one training camp the week before so the dynamics of the team was different to what we were used to!  Here’s my thoughts, then below I have included the official write up from the British Wheelchair Basketball site.  It was great to see the new blood playing well and fitting in nicely; I want to personally say a huge well done to Joy Haizelden, she’s just 14 and took the tournament in her stride and played some good basketball, definitely one to watch out for in the future :)

1st game: You could tell there were a bit of nerves and unsureness from us, but we played well.  I can’t really remember much but know that we gelled better as the game went on. Personally I shot and played well, having only been back from injury for one camp and one game I felt good and positive.

2nd game: It wasn’t great, like really not great.  Not sure quite what went wrong, but after a strong start it all went a bit downhill.  It was a game to look at, realise there was a disconnect somewhere and move on…not sure if that’s how the whole team felt, but for me that was what felt like a good idea to do!  No point in dwelling on it as that would potentially seep into the next game.

3rd game: A lot better than the morning one.  We felt like we had a point to prove, and we did so in the first quarter, but were let down in the end by not being able to break the press – this was something that was addressed by the coaches after the game and something we will continue to work on over the next few weeks.

4th game: I wasn’t actually present at the game as I began to have a migraine the Friday afternoon, managed to play the game the Friday night, but woke up the Saturday morning feel worse than I ever have, so was ordered back to bed by the physio.  But after a sandwich, some Migraleve (amaZING stuff, if you ever have a migraine use it…) which was brought to me by Louise and a sleep I felt sooo much better and made it to training and the game that evening.

5th game: It was a brilliant but disappointing game.  We played well, but the Dutch out shot us.  Our shooting percentage was high for us (44%) which is fantastic.  I played for 30 minutes, something I probably shouldn’t have done with my shoulder and everything, probably should have told them at half time, but I was enjoying playing!

Overall it was a positive step, it’s given us a better understanding of where we are struggling and what we’re doing well and gives the coaches a good indication of what they will need to help us work on over the next few weeks leading up to the Europeans.

Right better leave as I have a game with Coyotes against Blackcats (which, if you’re around in Birmingham with nothing to do the address is: Bishop Challoner School, Institute Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 7EG and tip is 12:50) and trying to get Josh ready is like pulling teeth this morning!

Love & Hugs
S x

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The Standard Life GB Women will take some real positives out of the Standard Life Head to Head against the Netherlands women’s team, which took place at the University of Wolverhampton between Thursday 18th – Saturday 20th April 2013.

The five match series was the first time the Standard Life GB women had faced any international opposition since London 2012 and with new coaches, Nigel Smith and Joe Jayaratne bringing in some new faces it was a great opportunity to blood the new players.

Paralympic Bronze Medallists, The Netherlands, definitely proved worthy of their medal though winning the series 5 – 0 nevertheless there were plenty of encouraging performances from the young GB team with everyone given chance to play their part and develop.

In the opening match on the Thursday evening it was a close run affair with the lead exchanging hands on a number of occasions, but the Netherlands finishing edged them the win, shooting 45% from the floor compared to GB’s 37%. Maddie Thompson and Judith Hamer topped the scoring for GB with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

The early game on the Friday again started as an extremely close match with hardly anything separating the two teams in the first half, however a very strong third quarter from the Netherlands which they won, 13 – 2, secured the victory for them 50 – 32. GB’s Amy Conroy hitting a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds

Second match on Friday evening saw GB women come out strong with something to prove and won the first quarter 12 -6, however the Netherlands came back and pressed GB led by 21 points from Inge Huitzing to win the match 49 – 62.

A very low scoring game due to great defence by both teams was had at the beginning of the last day of the series. GB struggled to find their shooting touch and a number of easy turnovers let The Netherlands take a strong hold on the match. GB did not let their head drop and courtesy of 18 points from Amy Conroy kept GB within 19 points, 30 – 49.

The series finished with the highest scoring game as the Netherlands came out the blocks very quickly, again led by Inge Huitzing, who made 25 points at 80% for the game. The experience of Clare Strange and Sarah Grady rallied the home team for the second half and a combined score of 21 points from them along with 16 points from Amy Conroy pushed them over the 50 point mark for the first time in the series, nonetheless it wasn’t enough to overcome the first half deficit finishing the game 55 – 75.

Standard Life GB Women coaches Joe Jayaratne and Nigel Smith agreed after the match, “It’s been a positive first tournament for the girls. We feel we’ve put in some good foundations to build on now up to the European Championships. Throughout the series the team has progressed with each match, everyone in the team played their part and received valuable court time.”

Sophie Carrigill, making her debut for GB at the tournament said, “It was an amazing to be able to represent GB for the first time and a really good experience to play against such a good team like the Netherlands and to experience how different the International Standard is to club level basketball and the level I’ve been playing at. We know now what we’ve got to put in to make that European Team.”


Last week’s training camp

So last week saw the first training camp with our new (interim) coaches, Joe and Nigel, who are taking us through the Europeans.  We’re all so greatful that they have said they have the time to do this, between them they have a ton of experience and I look forward to learning some new things from them.  It was also my first camp back at full(ish) training.  I started out the Wednesday by getting up at 6am and having to have Josh and I ready to go by 7 to make sure I dropped him off at my sisters in time for me to then get to camp on time…The Wednesday started off with a meeting with the new Performance Director Paul Davies, he seems really nice and wants the best for us, and I truly believe he will do everything in his power to get us to where we all think we should be.  Then the training session was, to be honest, a bit slow, but as Joe and Nigel hadn’t coached many of us before they were getting used to what level people were at.  I managed to do the whole of the Wednesday session, probably not the best idea, but as it wasn’t too high tempo I felt ok.

Thursday was a lot better, JJ and Nige were a lot less nervous and pushed us a bit more.  We decided on a new warm-up together as a team and there was great hilarity when the first drill we wanted to do none of us could remember how to run it…whoops!  We think we have it now, but going to run through it this week to make sure!  It did take a bit more working on after lunch, you know like, what drills were we actually doing and not just guessing our way through it!!  Oh how could I forget the 7am shooting session we did?! So so tired!  Hate early mornings, but I need to work on my shooting, being out for a few months meant I was a little rusty, but not as bad as I first thought, the morning went quite well, but decided to not do the pre-lunch session so I could get some physio and rest my shoulder for a bit.

Thursday afternoon I did some more training and was actually feeling pretty good.  However, I was instructed not to partake in the fitness test, which I actually felt bad about, the girls looked so sad!  I was a cheerleader on the side of the court though, making them push faster – that was quite fun!  I then dipped in and out of training in the evening and thinking we had longer than we did I stopped but it was only for like 15 minutes before everyone else – still I felt like I was being a good girl!  We were learning lots of different things and being shown how to do stuff we always have done but in a different way, which I think is always a good thing, the more ways you know how to tackle a problem/situation be it offence or defence is always a good thing – means if  you try it the way you always have done and it doesn’t work you have another way to tackle it.  Sounds really simple, I know, but it’s easy to forget that you don’t know everything and sometimes you need prompting that they way you do it is not just the only way it can be done.

Friday I missed the morning session again, I was tired and my shoulder was aching, and because we had a league game the next day as well (plus we only had 6 players going) I wanted to make sure I could do some training in the afternoon and be able to turn around and play the game I decided that it was best to get some physio first, then do some training.  We played a game against each other and I felt really good.  The team was selected after this for the tournament we have against The Netherlands this week, well done to the youngsters who did get selected for their first tournament with GB.  I want to send a virtual hug to the girls who didn’t get selected.  Don’t give up hope, please xxx

After I had been to the toilet for what felt like the millionth time I headed home to spend some time with Mikey, Josh was going to be at my sisters house (thanks again sis and nieces!) till the Sunday. He had been working all day and neither of us felt like cooking, and I KNOW it’s bad, but we ordered in Chinese…so shoot me!  It was blumming yummy though ;)!

Saturday saw us drive up to Sheffield for our game against the Jaguars…and it was our home game…we normally play our home games in Nottingham, but due to some league fixture shuffles and we were meant to be playing Sheffield on that day as well – but they pulled out, we had to keep the time and court due to lack of referees!! Confused, I was!

We started out the game really really well, everynoe was shooting well, defending very well…but I think after half time fatigue set in, not just in body but in our minds as well.  It was a shame as I think we could have won that game, but coming off a 3 day camp into a game with only 6 players – it was tough.  Loads of positives to take from it, and a few negatives…well not negatives, things we can do better.

We have games against The Netherlands this week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Walsall Campus of Wolverhampton University, the schedule is on the right hand side of the page if you are on the PC or at the very bottom if you’re on a mobile device – I really hope a lot of you can come and watch!

Love & Hugs
S x


GB Coyotes game tomorrow

If you’re in the Leicester area tomorrow we have a game against the Leicester Cobras, tipping at 1.30 (if you’ve been on my blog recently you will have seen I’ve updated it to show our up coming games…!) the postcode for the leisure centre is LE4 1DS so if you fancy watching a game come along!

It’s also my first game back from injury :) very excited – although bit nervous lol!

Hopefully see you tomorrow!

Love & Hugs
S x


Post I had written for BlueBadgeStyle.com on how and why I play Wheelchair Basketball

My blog is a bit like waiting for a bus tonight, wait ages for one to come along and you get two posts in one night!!!  Don’t worry it won’t be like this all the time! I will leave it a little bit before the next post! ;)

The post below I wrote for BlueBadgeStyle.com – which is a website that recommends restaurants, holidays and helps those with mobility issues find out whether somewhere they want to go is accessible or not. They do a sports blog series, which I and many other Paralympians, including my mate Louise Sugden have written on to tell you all about our sports and why you should take part!

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We started the Blue Badge Style Sports Blog to help advise less able people on how to get into sports. Each week we feature a different Paralympic athlete writing about their own sport.

This week, we’re featuring Wheelchair Basketball player, Sarah Grady, who has represented Great Britain at three Paralympic games. She’s written a fantastic article about how she fell in love with her sport and how much fun everybody can have playing it! Here’s her story in her own words:

One of the first questions I get asked when I talk to people about playing wheelchair basketball is, what made me pick this sport? It’s something that, over the years, I have found easier and easier to answer – I love it, plain and simple; I fell in love with wheelchair basketball the first time I held a basketball. I suppose I should start at the beginning, where I first found my love…

I went to something called the National Junior Games, at Stoke Mandeville in 1997, at the age of 13. Back then you tried out a lot of different sports. For instance, I had a go at athletics, tennis, table tennis and (randomly) snooker…but then I tried wheelchair basketball and something sparked inside of me.

The people who were already playing when I got to the have-a-go session were zooming around, crashing into each other and generally having a blast! I couldn’t wait to try – which I had to do in my day chair as, at the time, there weren’t any spare sports chairs (as far as I can remember). I was completely rubbish – I mean, I was ‘couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a cow’ kinda rubbish! But for some reason it didn’t matter. I was with friends and we were all rubbish together. The most important thing was that I was having fun. Literally, from that day on, it was all I wanted to do.

It had left that much of an impression on me that I kept on at my mum to find me a club nearby, but I wanted one where there were other women – for some reason that was really important to me. The day came when I was going to my first session at Force WBC (now called London Titans WBC) aaaaaannddd…I stood in the hallway crying because I was scared and didn’t want to go!!! My mum said that I had to go that night and if I hated it that much, I wouldn’t have to back go again – I agreed to go and have never looked back!

Sarah Grady

Sarah Grady

A year or so passed and I attended a GB Women’s trial camp. I was told by the coach, at the end of the weekend, that I needed to work on this, this, that, that, this and this…basically it was a long list! I felt so deflated, and kind of annoyed as I had only been playing a short time!

Then in February 2000, all of the girls in my club told me to come along to this GB camp they had coming up. I was wary, due to what the coach had said to me previously, so I said no. It was only when the coach rang me on the Friday, saying he wanted me to be there, that eventually made me go. Again, I’m glad I didn’t let my stubbornness get in the way, as two months later, over my 16th birthday, I went to my first tournament in America (and fouled out in my first ever international match, whoops!). Then, just four short months from first being in the GB squad, I was selected for the Sydney Paralympics – gobsmacked doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt!

Fast-forward to now – during the last thirteen years I have gone on to represent my country at the 2004 Athens Paralympics and more recently the 2012 London Paralympics as well as numerous ‘friendly’ matches, Europeans and a Worlds. I have also taken a four and a half year break (between 2007 & 2011) to have my son Joshua, got a job, got married and bought a house!

I came back to basketball in 2011 with more fire and passion than ever before. I had missed international competition so much. I also missed the fitness – I never tried to get rid of the baby weight, so when I returned to GB I needed to lose weight and get my fitness back. I managed to lose most the weight and get pretty fit but it was hard! Being less mobile, trying to keep fit is difficult: basketball works all of your upper body, trunk as well as shoulders/arms so along with being fun, it helps you to keep fit as well! Also, I felt sooo slow compared to the youngsters we have in the team and the camps seemed a lot harder than I remembered from when I was younger – oh to be a young whippersnapper again!!

Sarah and the GB team. Whippersnappers and all.

Sarah and the GB team. Whippersnappers and all.

So, “what does happen at a training camp?” I hear you cry!! Well, we generally arrive on a Friday evening and have a 2-3 hour session, then on Saturday we will have 3 sessions which are the same length split over the day and on a Sunday there will be 1 or 2 sessions. The sessions are made up of shooting drills, defence and offence work, passing and other skills we need to practice/learn as well. We make sure to keep them no longer than 3 hours as, past that, people’s attention spans wander and you lose intensity – it’s better to have shorter sessions, with higher intensity, than longer sessions, which then tend to be lacklustre. If you do the latter then it will transfer into your game.

It’s all about turning up with enthusiasm, no matter how tired you are. It’s not just training camps we do: we train individually, as well, with gym sessions, court sessions – where we practice shooting and chair skills – and even just going out on the road and pushing for a few miles.

With everything we do in training, we try to emulate how we’re going to be in competition – from getting ready/psyched up before a session to controlling what we’re eating – it’s all preparation. In competition there are some things you can’t control, like whether the transport to a game is on time or what the food is like. It’s a pain, but you kind of have to deal with it the best you can. We have a nutritionist who helps us pick the right type of foods, so even if what’s on the menu isn’t what we would normally eat, we can try to get a healthy option.

Competitions can bring out the best and worst of people, especially at something as big as a Paralympics. When you’re together 24/7, for about 3 weeks…it can get a bit claustrophobic! Generally the team gets on pretty well, and in London there were no arguments (that I knew of anyway!). A daily schedule during a competition will be something like this:
– Breakfast
– Have a training session if game is in the evening
– Lunch
– Rest
– Dinner
– Game
– Recovery/bed

It’s pretty jam packed, so the opportunity to get stressed with each other is quite high. Even the smallest thing can set you off sometimes. That’s one of the things about a team sport, you can’t choose who’s on the team – only the coach can – we’re like a family and we rely on each other to reach a common goal. So counting to ten can sometimes be the best idea to maintain harmony in the team!

Sarah with some of the GB family

Sarah with some of the GB family

I have re-written the next few paragraphs about 5 times and I still can’t quite find the words to describe what it’s like being at a Paralympics. All I can say is that it’s one of the most amazing, exciting experiences you can ever have; it can also be absolutely devastating. London was a huge mix of emotions for me, it was the culmination of a year of hard work, excitement for all the things I had been involved with (playing at St Pauls Cathedral, going and speaking to numerous schools etc.) and it was a year I truly, honestly believed was going to end better for the team than it did.

We ended up coming 7th, which I suppose isn’t bad in the grand scheme of things – but when I think of our quarter final game, where we were within 3 minutes of beating Germany (the eventual gold medal winners), I wonder what could have been had we just closed the game out.

Some people ask me if London is the best Paralympics I have been to and, to be honest, I still don’t know. Sydney was my first, so it was special and no other Paralympics can replace that one. But London was AMAZING – the crowd, the hype, the fact my brother, who had NEVER seen me play basketball before, could actually come and watch a game – at a Paralympics and not just a league game – meant a great deal to me. But then, because of what happened on that day – that devastating quarter-final day – it has kind of tarred it…only slightly, and I’m sure in years to come I will get over it, but right now the emotions are still too raw!

Sarah playing against Germany

Sarah playing against Germany

I’m often asked whether there is a certain type of person or disability that shouldn’t/can’t play wheelchair basketball, or if there is an age limit. To be honest, if you can push a chair yourself, you can play. Personality-wise, it really helps if you are happy to work as part of a team! With age – at my club we have kids as young as 4, to adults who are as old as about 50! No age is too young or old to start. There are also a number of different divisions people can play in, depending on whether you’re playing for recreation or if you want to become the best in the country/world! If you want to get involved but you don’t live around London, then have a look on the British Wheelchair Basketball Association website, where you can find a club.

If you were inspired by the Paralympics, by wheelchair basketball or any other sports, don’t worry about whether you will be any good or not – everyone has to start somewhere! I have made some of the best friends and have kept fit in the process…so what do you have to lose by getting involved in sport?

Thanks Sarah for a really fun, engaging and informative article about Wheelchair Basketball. It sounds like an absolute blast.

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There you go, that’s how I got into wheelchair basketball and why I am going to do everything I can to go to Rio 2016.

Love & Hugs

S x


Long update…

Hi Everyone!

So sorry this has taken me so long to write, every time I have sat at the computer to do it, something has come up!  I am going to make more of a concerted effort to do at least one update a week! (we shall see how long that lasts!)

Firstly, what a year 2012 was, gone by like a whirlwind, but the most amazing, captivating whirlwind ever.  A year that I and many many others will never forget.

Now I should pick up where I left off – the end of September, once we had come back from Italy and settled back into normality I decided that I wanted to finally get a tattoo, something that I had always wanted to do, but never quite decided what I wanted to get.  Well after the year I have had, I realised just how much I care about playing basketball for Great Britain and how proud I am of doing it. So there was really only one thing to get…

Tattoo

I realise that it looks huge, the photo makes it look a lot bigger, I mean it is quite big, but it’s not something I will get bored of, or something I decided on on a whim and will regret in a few years, it’s something that is a part of me – being a Paralympian is something you can never take away from me!! :)

In October I had also gone back to a school I had spoken at before the games to give a round up of my time there – I also decided to show some of the Germany game (quarter finals), it was something that I am glad I did – the kids loved it, even burst into spontaneous applause when Hooch hit a beautiful outside shot – but it also meant that I could tell the kids that this game was my best and worst moment of London 2012. Best, because we played extremely well and it was the best I had played for a long time…and worst, well because of the outcome!  I still feel heartbroken when I watch it back or think of it, what could have been.  But in some ways it was a good thing, it means that we have something to build on and strive for moving forwards to Rio 2016.  And we will come back fighting.

The rest of the year was pretty much training and league games, for the Coyotes (team made up of the GB Women’s team) and London Titans WBC.  In November we also had fitness testing, I was a little pleased with mine, mainly as I had lost weight since the last one and my fat/muscle ratio was better…but the actual fitness bit was a bit lacking, partly due to my shoulder injury (will explain more about that in a minute…) and partly because since the games I had done less training and had eaten more cakes!!

Me during fitness testing!

Me during fitness testing!

One exciting thing that happened was I was invited to the Sports awards which were held at Newmarket Race Course.  I was asked to present an award and also won a prize in the raffle – wasn’t up for an award unfortunately… :( !!!!

Mike and I at the awards night

Mike and I at the awards night

Then late November I had an MRI scan on my shoulder, it had been playing up for a while, but it was getting to the point of not being able to push Josh to school, very painful and after a little while pushing it felt like there was no power in my arm.  Initially SLAP tear was put into the mix, but after the MRI it was clear it was not this, thank the Lord, but degeneration, pin hole tear and some other bits which mainly needed – Rest and Rehab…ARGH!!! Very glad it wasn’t an operation but Rest and Rehab can take a lot longer and is very dull, in fact, I am just coming back into full time training.  My S&C sessions are going well and I am getting stronger everyday, cannot wait to train with the girls in a couple of weeks!

So Christmas went by in a blur, and rest was starting to annoy me…I was also putting on weight as I was comfort eating and just generally being a Christmas pig….so January was a fresh start, no more eating rubbish food (you know, cakes, crisps, ice cream etc) and to get into size 10 jeans!! Which I have managed, whoop! Now being able to do a little more cardio exercise each week is making me feel better, I was doing a few 10-15 minute drills a few times a week now I am able to do an hour or so training session a couple of times a week, getting stronger and feeling a lot more positive that I can manage this injury, I’m not convinced it will go away completely, but if I can at least manage it I will be happy :)

I’m sure there are some things I have missed off this update, but it has been too long, so can’t remember anymore!  Life has been crazy, maybe I shouldn’t have re-named my blog to that, ah well!

Love & Hugs
S x

Some pictures, just because!

Me and my baby boy before bed one night!

Me and my baby boy before bed one night!

Joshua taking on Jim Palmer, GB Junior at training one day!

Joshua taking on Jim Palmer, GB Junior at training one day!

Joshua and Eika, picture taken by my wonderful sister Lisa (www.lisaburrett.co.uk)

Joshua and Eika, picture taken by my wonderful sister Lisa (www.lisaburrett.co.uk)

I got made into Lego! Thanks minifigs.me

I got made into Lego! Thanks minifigs.me

Joshua's birthday cake - yes, I made it!

Joshua’s birthday cake – yes, I made it!

Sammy's birthday cake, I also made this!

Sammy’s birthday cake, I also made this!

We had one of the worst things happen, Angel, Sammy's German Shepherd had to go to doggy heaven. So very heartbreaking.

We had one of the worst things happen, Angel, Sammy’s German Shepherd had to go to doggy heaven. So very heartbreaking. She was one of the family and loved by us all. The most difficult thing we had to do was tell Joshua, he still talks about her and wishes she was still here.

The GB Women training

The GB Women training – mostly the youngsters

@louisesugden13 and I taught the younger girls how important prehab was, here they are putting our advice to good work!

@louisesugden13 and I taught the younger girls how important prehab was, here they are putting our advice to good work!


Italy (Part 2)

Ok so it’s taken me a while to get back on here and write, but honestly it’s because life has been hectic.  What with spending time with my family, working at Red Gate and basketball games/training I haven’t had much time to come on here to write!  I have loads to tell you, but I think the first thing that needs to be done is write up the rest of what happened in Italy! And include some pics of the wedding and our journey up there…

I also realised that the last time I said there was a picture from my first day back at work and of Josh at school – there should have been, but I forgot to include it, so they’re here instead!

Josh’s first day at school

My desk when I went into work

So let’s pick up the whirlwind Italian trip – so the day after we had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, it was time to pick up our hire car (all pictures will follow at the end…!) it was a cute little Fiat Panda – Mike was apprehensive about driving it to begin with, but he soon fell in love with it!  We first had to negotiate out of Rome, OMG, nightmare!  We took my sat nav, but for some reason it chose to not work, so I had to turn roaming on my phone on and use the maps on that – cost me a fortune, but it was necessary…!  And the car we hired also had no fuel, so we had to find a petrol station.  Now, if you have been to Rome, you will know that a lot of what they call ‘petrol stations’ are men with a couple of pumps at the side of the road, we went to stop at one, and he turned us away…the second one we found we pulled up and as the guy started filling, I noticed the other guy had a sharp knife – now he may have been eating an apple at the time, but still – I thought let’s just smile and be friendly and we will get away from here in one piece!!!!  After that was all taken care of, we actually had to drive through the centre of Rome to get to the other side – excuse my language, but – sh*t it was scary…cars flying at you from all angles, people cutting you up, honking, motorbikes cutting from the outside lane – across 3 lanes to the inside….ARGH!  One point I just had to say to Mikey, go go go – just close your eyes and GOOOOOO!!!

It was bizarre, as SOON as you got out of the city everyone was just chilled and relaxed, pootling along at their own pace, it was nice!  I had chosen a route to Spoleto/Poreta via the coast and I’m glad I did, it was so pretty and the place we stopped and had lunch at was really lovely, expensive, but yummy! The we cut back across the country towards where our hotel was in Poreta.  We stayed at Il Castello di Poreta and it was stunning – getting there was a challenge, especially as I thought I was clever by finding it on Google Maps before we left and used Street View to see what it looked like – shame it was the wrong road I looked up…!  So I said to Mike, as I was convinced it was up this road, and all the reviews had mentioned about it being up a steep, windy hill – so I thought nothing of it.  Well we started to make our way up there and at one particular point our cute little Panda, who did not like hills, decided to stall half way up this hill – sheer drop behind us, unless we could steer carefully around the corner.  Cue nervous laughter from me, swearing and a lot of revving the engine from Mike, luckily he’s a good driver as he got us going up the hill.  Only to find out that it wasn’t the er…right road.  SO turning around in someone’s house we got to this fork in the road which I was saying that it was up that other way – a gravel farmer track…(I was so convinced, like never been more convinced in my LIFE!) well thankfully we saw an old Italian lady walking up to her house. I pushed Mike out the car with the piece of paper with the hotel written on it, and he pointed to the paper and the track to ask if it was up there…and I could hear the lady laughing from inside the car – she laughed, shook her head and said no…I guess I was wrong!  She pointed back down the road and to the right…after much apologising from me Mike went the way the lady said and…if we had carried along the road instead of turning where I said we would have seen the um…signposts pointing to the hotel!

Simon and Chiara had invited us to her parents house that evening to have a big buffet type thing the evening before the wedding.  It was really lovely to meet Chiara at last, as well as eventually Anita (Gaz’s g/f) – not only did we have issues with sat navs and getting lost, so did Gaz, but unlike us, he didn’t have to have one of Chiara’s bridesmaids come and find them! It was nice to meet the family before the wedding and I also got to see Chiara and Si’s dogs, they’re so cute and have to say Simba is my favourite!!

The next day was the wedding, well Mike and I had decided to go for a drive after we had lunch in Spoleto to find our way to the church and the restaurant as let’s face it, we were notorious for getting lost!  We did this actually with ease, so it meant that when we got back to the hotel we had loads of time to get ready! We got to the church with plenty of time and saw the birdesmaids and Simon arrive, I was so excited for him and a little emotional, having known him for such a long time it was a huge thing to be there when he got married!  We took our seats in the church and waited for Chiara to arrive.  She looked beautiful. I did struggle to get any good pictures of them in the church, but there are a couple at the bottom and there are very few pics of the reception as both my phone and my camera died!  The ceremony was a bit bizarre for me as it was all in Italian and I cannot speak a word of Italian!   It was quite amusing for Mike and Anita as to when to stand up and sit down – so when the Italian side stood, I nudged them both and when they sat, the same thing.  The little flower girl was very cute as well!

We took Anita to the reception as Gaz, as best man, had to stay behind for pictures.  When we first got there no one else had arrived – and we had left after some people, so we started to panic we were at the wrong place…so sent Mike in to check and as he got in there, others arrived, slightly embarrasing for him, lol!  Now Italian weddings have a lot of food the ‘buffet’ at the drinks reception would have been considered a full meal by English standards…food was AMAZing though!  The whole evening was chilled and relaxed, with dancing, singing (Chiara and a lot of her family can sing really well!), games and general merryment!  I’ve said it loads of times, but Congratulations again Si and Chiara xxx

I was sad to be leaving the next day, but kind of glad as the weather took a turn for the worse and it was pretty minging to be honest!!  The drive back was almost uneventful, until we got to the airport and the signs for where to return the hire car kept disappearing…we eventually found it, dropped the car off and went to check in – my god, the queue was huge and it wasn’t until we had been waiting like 20 minutes I remembered I was a BA Bronze Member – which means check in at the executive check in, whoop!  Once we got to the gate I spotted another Paralympian that was on my plane, not sure who it was…and neither of us said anything…pathetic really, lol!  But the flight back with BA was really good.

To sum it up – Italy was amazing and I want to go back there again, really soon…!

Now time for some pictures…I promise I will try and add the rest of the last month or so of news as soon as possible…the pictures are in no particular order and the ones I put in above have been included again, not sure how to change that!

Love & Hugs
S x


A week of firsts!

Since finishing the Paralympics, then having a very lazy week off, I have been incredibly busy!  The week commencing 17th September saw a week of firsts for me and my family:

  • First day back at work for me
  • First day at primary school for Josh
  • First time I and Mike had been to Italy
  • First time we had met both Gaz & Simon’s ladies
  • First Italian wedding I had been to
  • First time I have fallen in love with a country so quickly
  • First time I have had a sense of direction!

So the first day back at work for me was, a shock…having been away since May I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to feel, I have to admit, I wasn’t excited as let’s face it – going back to the daily grind was going to be soooooo boring compared to what I had been doing!  But my colleagues were very sweet and welcomed me back with a very pink desk, which I loved!  Plus I knew I was only going to be there for 3 days before I went on holiday, so it wasn’t too bad!

Then the next day Josh started big school!  He loved and still loves going, I’m giving him a couple of years before we have the first ‘I’m not going to school today’ and ‘*cough cough* I’m sick…’.  He even cried on the Saturday when my mum was looking after him because he wasn’t going in that day…I’m definitely saving that gem for when he has his first girlfriend or gets married!!

Italy – OMG I love the place, everywhere is so beautiful, I have put a selection of photos at the bottom so you can see our little adventure. We touched down in Rome after a very early start on the Thursday morning – we were up at 2.30am! We ummed and ahhed and walked up and down the arrivals terminal trying to decide if we were going to get a taxi or a bus – 48EUR compared to 8EUR each – we chose the bus! So after bumming up the stairs and falling asleep on Mike’s shoulder we arrived in the center of Rome, using the map I had cleverly picked up before leaving the airport, we found our hotel.  One thing we did find out was that in a foreign country I had an amazing sense of direction – compared to at home where I STILL get lost going around Cambridge or even my hometown of Watford – Italy I could navigate with ease! It was a reasonably basic hotel, but fab location and considering we weren’t in there a whole lot it didn’t really matter what the hotel was like, so long as we had a bed to sleep in!

We started off by walking to the Coloseum, it didn’t take very long and as it was a nice hot day we didn’t mind being out in the sun, especially as in England it was wet and cold at the time.  We spent a bit of time looking around there and taking a billion pictures – it’s just amazing to think about what went on inside those walls, and also how it was built, the place is massive!  Once we had walked around a couple of times and explored all the bits we could get to we headed outside to get something to eat – a nice mozarella and ham panini thingy…one thing I have noticed in Italy, they don’t toast them for long enough, the cheese is never melted enough!  We then went to see the Roman Forum, which was, I’m not gonna lie – a bloody pain in the ass!  Seriously, Roman Forum, in a wheelchair = a friggin nightmare.  If you want to go, make sure you have someone who is will to push you.  In fact, that goes for a lot of Italy (well Rome mostly), without Mike I would have really struggled, especially as I’m a cheap skate and like to walk most places! The cobble stones were painful, the GIANT cobble stones were a lot easier actually, bizarrely! The ROman FOrum was really nice though and although we didn’t really explore half of it because of accessiblity issues and we were getting tired!  So we headed back to the hotel for a nap before finding somewhere for dinner.  We didn’t plan on sleeping that long, but ended up kipping for 2 hours! We went to a restaurant just down the road and had a pizza, it was delicious, although it wasn’t quite what I expected, we ordered a 4 cheese, and I didn’t realise that it had no tomato sauce…so it was really really cheesy!

The next day we got a taxi to the Vatican City and went to the museum (free for disabled and carer FYI!) which includes the Sistine Chapel – it was amazing, the architecture of the building was incredible and the paintings and sculptures etc were all just brilliant.  I tried to take as many pictures as possible, but it was impossible to capture it all, and pictures just don’t do it justice either.  You have to go there to appreciate it.  We had lunch in the courtyard mid way through our visit to the museum and before we walked back to the hotel we went into St Peter’s Basilica.  Again, this place was insanely beautiful and just amazing and again, you can’t capture the beauty of it all in photos, I tried, but you have to see it.  The detail and the sheer scale of this building were so impressive.  So after we had looked around here we made our way back to the hotel – without a map.  That’s right, we’d forgotten the maps! Well this is where my awesome Italian sense of direction made it’s appearence.  I said to Mike that we need to head in a particular direction – we did and although we somehow made it to Trevi Fountain (again just awesome!) we were heading in the right direction.  We did ask a German tourist if we could use their map at one point, just to check and we found that we were going in the right direction – go me!  We were going up this steep hill and I saw someone walk along the road with a Hard Rock Cafe bag and I turned to Mike and told him I wanted ribs for dinner and we were going to the Hard Rock!  We managed to hail a taxi as we were both shattered and he took us there…best ribs and raspberry mojito ever!  Even got a spot of pin trading in as well.  We walked back to the hotel as it wasn’t far and conked out as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

I will leave the next part (where we pick up a hire car and drive to Spoleto) for another day, here are some pictures from our hectic 2 days in Rome., my first day back at work and Josh’s first day at school…


Round up of my time at the London 2012 Paralympics

I’m going to try and remember as much as possible…and for it to be in some kind of order!  There will be some pictures as well to keep you interested, it may be long, but bear with it!

I’ll start with the morning of the 24th August, one I will never forget.  Me, Jude, Helen Turner & Louise played basketball in St Paul’s Cathedral. The first time that I had ever been in there, and what an occasion to be there for!  SO many reporters and just a beautiful setting.  I hope to try and get some of the professional pictures as they will be incredible.  There are some my hubby took at the end of this post!

We scored front page of the Independent the next day – something I would never have expected to say, that I am on the front cover of a national newspaper!

25th August

We headed to University of East London in the afternoon after spending the evening before and the morning packing everything up…

My bags all ready for London

We played the USA girls that evening in front of around 600 people at UEL, which was good preparation for those girls who had never been to a Paralympics before, it gave them a taste of what to expect, although it would be close to 30 times that amount at the North Greenwich Arena, it was an idea!!  We lost to them by only a few points, it was annoying we lost, but good prep. We were all like kids at Christmas that night as after we trained the next morning we were going to be on our way to the Paralympic Village…!

26th August

After training we packed all our chairs and loaded it onto vans. Our bags had gone the day before, so all we had was our overnight bags to worry about…that and finding the car park where our cars were to be left for two weeks.  Maddie came with me, we put the postcode into our sat nav, and decided to follow some of the men’s team, we made it to the road we should have been at, but then disaster struck; we couldn’t find the car park and the guys we were following had driven off somewhere else (I didn’t want to follow, didn’t trust them THAT much!) and to top it off about 4 car fulls of the rest of the men’s team were now following me…bugger!  So we drove around a bit to see if the car park was anywhere, nope, couldn’t find it, so we stopped and asked a policeman – he directed us, we followed the directions and sure enough, he was wrong! Then thankfully Matt Byrne (I think!) came to our rescue, he led the way and we made it with plenty of time, phew!  After we all loaded onto the buses, we did a relay text roll call for the women’s team, only to discover that number 7, aka Hooch, aka Helen Freeman, was not on a bus…and the fact her phone is never charged, we all started to panic!  Once we got to the Village, we managed to get hold of someone who had found her and let us know that she was on her way, phew again…honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the rest of the day with all this excitement!

27th August

We had some downtime to get used to Village life and work out where we had to go for stuff…then we had a training session at the Basketball Arena!  It was great, it didn’t impress me that much (I know, I know…) but I guess having been to two previous Paralympics and the Stadiums being bigger it didn’t seem that big of a deal! I knew though that the next day, training at the North Greenwich Arena (aka the O2) was going to be more impressive.  Maybe that’s why I was nonplussed about the BBA?!

28th August

Training at the O2…OMG it was just amazing being in that stadium for the first time, I just sat and stared for a minute before being brought round by Garry telling us we only had an hour, so get on court….!  Hit my first shot, which boosted my confidence – I had always had a good feeling about these games, something inside me just fizzled and the butterflies I got every time I thought about being here and how excited I was about it all came back and hit me hard during that training session…

29th August – Opening Ceremony

We weren’t going…and I was gutted about it.  We all got dressed up and went to the BBQ that was behind our apartments and ate a lot of food (hey, it was good!), then sat in the coaches living room to watch the ceremony on TV, you could also hear the noise from the stadium, that could be seen from the balcony.  Once the teams started to come in we did some prep for our game against the Netherlands the next day some people went to bed.  Louise and I went to sort a few things out, then went back into their room as the British team was just about to walk into the stadium.  We were sat on the balcony and the roar was incredibly loud – we heard it clear as day from the balcony and the emotion of it all brought tears to my eyes.  In fact I was crying quite a lot!  I was really happy to be able to share that moment with Lou, of 3 different games we had been to, it was the first one we had been to together, it was a poignant moment for me.  We went to bed once I had dried my eyes and fell asleep…only to be woken by what sounded like the stadium being bombed, it was of course just fireworks, but still, scared the life out of me!

30th August – Game Day – The Netherlands

I was so excited when I woke up!  It was time to show the World who we were.  I went through all my pre-game prep as I always do at major tournaments and for once I didn’t psych myself out of it all!  We got ready, warmed up and then it was game time. We started strong, drawing the first quarter 8-8, but after this things seemed to fall apart.  With such a young squad, it was inevitable that nerves were going to play a major factor, and I feel that I have let some of the younger girls down by not helping them overcome them.  I only played a few minutes, but scored 100% from the field (1/1). But with the Dutch team putting on an extremely strong performance we were just no match for them on the day. They won it comfortably 62-35.

31st August – Game Day – Australia

After having such a poor performance the day before I was ready to come out fighting against Australia and for the few minutes I was on, fight I did – notching up 2 fouls quite quickly, oops…I started the game so I had obviously done something right the day before and not coming back on the court for the rest of the game was frustrating to say the least – especially as getting 2 fouls isn’t exactly the worst crime ever!  It was the worst game we have played in a long while and whether it was still nerves or what, I don’t know and even though we had a good shooting spate in the 4th quarter, it wasn’t enough to bring it back.  The Oz girls won 51-24.

1st September – Game Day – Brazil

Brazil was a team we knew we could beat, we knew it was going to be tough, especially as they had narrowly lost to Australia a couple days earlier (52-50) and considering our performance against Australia wasn’t great a slight bit of nerves creeped into my system.  But I pushed them away as quickly as they came – I had to get my positive mental state back!  I had bought some posters to put up in the apartments and one of them had this quote on it by Larry Bird: ‘Push yourself again and again.  Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.’ I read that on my way out of the apartment the day we played Brazil and decided that I was going to live by it for the rest of the games (I have since decided to live by it every time I play basketball!).  I started again for this game and again, I was on the court for just a few minutes (was getting more than just a bit frustrating by now!!) – I was pleading in my head for Garry to put me back on the court when Brazil started to put a lead on us, but he’s not a mind reader, so didn’t get the message! The girls who were on court in that 4th quarter showed a lot of heart and professionalism and went on to finish a game that the day before we could have lost.  We won 42-37!

3rd September – Game Day – Canada

We had a day off on the 2nd, I went to see my family at PGB house, which was really nice, got a lot of cuddles from Josh & Mikey, just what I needed!  Then it was time to get focused for Canada.  We started off really strongly, but then our 2nd and 3rd quarters killed it for us.  In the 2nd, we were just one point down with 4 minutes to go, but in the last 3 minutes, they held us scoreless and scored 6 points themselves.  This put them in a strong position going into the half.  We fought back in the 4th, but it was too little too late by that point. They won 67-50.  A much better scoring performance for us, but just not quite enough.

4th September – Quarter Final Day – Germany

If ever there was a time to have a fantastic performance at this Paralympic Games, today was it.  And boy did we.  We led the first quarter 12-8.  They drew back in the 2nd to be leading by 1 point going into the half.  This was still a fantastic position to be in for us.  We were playing some awesome basketball, and it just felt right.  We were all literally putting all we had onto that floor, and it was exciting to watch and when on court to be part of.  We stayed level in the 3rd quarter, so they were still just one point ahead.  I was having an amazing game (hey, it’s my blog, I’m allowed to big myself up!!) and played 16 minutes or so.  We were with them the whole way in the 4th quarter and with 3 minutes to go, we had to start fouling them so they weren’t just able to run the clock down.  But the con of doing this is that if they make all their free throws it makes it more important to score, and I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.  I should say that Annika Zeyen for Germany had a massive impact on the result, she shot extremely well and I think if we recognised sooner and shut her down as well as we were shutting down the German forwards the result would have been very different. We put everything into that game, our hearts and souls and it was ripped away from us.  It hurt very much and then being pulled to one side by Jordan who wanted an interview after it was difficult.  Thankfully Helen Freeman said to me that if I cried she would punch me – or I would have done!  I managed to wait till I was past all the interviewers and cameras in the mixed zone, but then the emotion just took over and realising my dream of winning a medal at London 2012 was gone, I couldn’t hold it back anymore.  The tears and everything just poured out and as I got into the changing room and someone came to hug me, it just made it all worse.  We were all emotionally and physically gone by that point.  Going and seeing family after the game was more important than ever, to have them supporting you is one of the most important things at elite level sport.  Without my family I wouldn’t have made it to where I am and I have to give thanks to them.  Luckily we had a day off on the 5th, if we had to play a game the next day I think it would have been even worse than the Australia game.

6th September – Classification Crossover – China

So we played China in the crossovers for classification, if we won we played in the 5/6 game, if we lost we played for 7/8.  I started again in this game, and I played about 10 minutes and scored 7 points, one was a 3 pointer right at the end of the game.  To be honest we didn’t play well the entire game, only winning the last quarter.  We missed a lot of shots and they shot very well.  We tried but it just didn’t feel like we had enough fight left in us.  We drew it back to 13 points, but with only a minute and a half to go, at that point it just was too far.  They beat us 72-55.

7th September – 7/8 Place Game – Mexico

We all had a strong talking to each other and basically said we are not leaving this tournament in 8th place…again. Since 1996 we had finished in 8th at every Paralympics, and none of us wanted that.  We had the 8.30am game and getting up at 5.30am was not fun, but after some food and a mini training session on the warm up court, we were all a bit more awake.  Clearly not awake as we thought we were as we went down in the first quarter 11-6…realising that we were going to have to pull our fingers out to win this game, we came out fighting in the 2nd to win the quarter 12-8 and going into the half down by only 1 point.  A change in tactics for the 3rd saw us dominate it and won it 22-7 and going into the 4th quarter with a healthy lead of 14 points.  Mexico battled on in the 4th, but we played with more heart and wanted it more, closing out the quarter 19-11 and winning the game convincingly 59-37…but more importantly, breaking the 8th place curse!

We also went to watch the women’s final in the evening, and saw Germany beat Australia to win the Gold medal – it made the loss in the quarters a bit easier to bear knowing they were eventual champions, but the fact we took them to a better game than the silver medalists did still hurt.  Managed to sneak Josh courtside with me during that game, which was fun!

8th September – Men’s medal matches

Yes it was final day for the men, but more importantly it was also the day most of the team were in the salon having their hair done!  I have also now found a new hairdresser, so a good day all round!  I also got loads of freebies as well, and not just tester freebies, full sizes freebies from the salon!  We headed off to watch our men play for Bronze.  Unfortunately the USA were just too strong for our guys and they won 61-46.  We also stayed to watch the final as well – it was a great game – it saw Canada come out eventual champions winning the game 64-58 against Australia.

9th September – Packing Day & Closing Ceremony

So all our bags had to be out of our rooms at 10.30 – thankfully I had done a lot of packing the day before so all I had to do was last minute bits.  Got it all done and packed into the van on time…we then had to push 1 mile to our cars to put our bags into them, we then said goodbye to our bags as we didn’t expect them to be there when we returned after the parade the next day!! I just bummed around the village, went and saw Mikey and Josh and chilled until about 5/6.00pm when I decided to get ready for the closing ceremony.  We had to be outside by 7pm…and we would have made it, had we not had to wait for the lift for so long! It took forEVER to get downstairs! So we were a few minutes late and were being chastised by some people, but we wanted to wait for the whole team…it took a little while longer, but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter!

The closing ceremony was amazing!  Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay-Z were fantastic and we all had a blast, singing and dancing the whole night!  We then went back to the BBQ area by our apartment for some drinks – I may have had a little too much too quickly and ended up in bed by about 2.30am, but it was a good night!

10th September – Last day in Village and Our Greatest Team Parade

Waking up was awful, granted I had more sleep than some (i.e. those that had got in at 5.30am) but I felt rough…I packed the last minute bits to go in my over night bag, including my duvet, then proceeded to have a shower and get ready.  I left my hair down, thinking it looked all right (it was still wet…!) went and tried to eat some breakfast, came back to the room to finish getting ready, looked in the mirror and cried out “My hair is massive” – cue laughter from the rest of the girls!  So I put it half up…couldn’t go on a parade with massive hair!  We got on the buses to go to the other side of London, police escort and everything, so cool! Got there and had some speeches from the Chef de Mission’s of TeamGB & ParalympicsGB, smiled and said hey to Tom Daley, had a lot of people come up to me and say that I was hilarious last night, used a gross port-a-loo, then pushed up a very long steep ramp onto the float!  We then had to wait about an hour for all the floats to be loaded before we headed off on our final lap of honour!  IT WAS AMAZING…completely completely amazing.  I never ever imagined how awesome it would be.  The amount of people there was incredible.  Thank you to everyone who came to support both TeamGB & ParalympicsGB, it is something I will never forget.

Once the parade had concluded and we were sitting in the wrong place during the fly overs, we then had a reception where there was some food, more speeches and famous people to spot.  Amy Conroy and I decided to get as many photos with famous people as we could find, we did quite well…not finding Jess Ennis or Tom Daley though, which was disappointing!

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London was amazing from start to finish.  Yes we had blips in the middle with a couple of our games, but it just goes to show just what we are capable of, and come Rio we should be hitting our peak at just the right time.  I will never forget our performance against the now Paralympic Champions, Germany; nor the parade, where people were just everywhere, hanging out of windows, tops of buildings – including St Paul’s Cathedral; nor will I forget how close the team became during our time in London.  We fought hard together and when things didn’t go our way we didn’t fall apart like we could have done, we stuck together and came back stronger.

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Now that my Journey to London has been completed I will be rebranding my blog…I hope you will still check in when I make a new post to see what I’m up to as I will still be playing basketball, but I will also be showing off my personality a bit more too…I’m still undecided what to call my blog – I was going to go back to ‘Up in Clouds of Pink’, but I think I want something completely fresh – so if you have any ideas and I haven’t changed it by the time you come back, please drop me a line!

Love & Hugs
S x

p.s. Bravo if you read all of that, it was quite a lot!!! Cookies the next time I see you x

Now for some pictures…which appear to not be in the order I wanted them to be…………………………


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