Double Commonwealth Gold Medallist - Is This A Dream?!
What an amazing past few days I've had and I'm still riding high in the clouds. I've got a feeling it's going to take a while before I return back to me honest. I'll talk you through the past few days and hopefully you'll get an insight and be able to feel the amazing vibes I'm feeling right now . . .
After the rapid race in Hamburg I was rushed back to Morzine in France to get another week of consistent work before flying to Glasgow on the Monday. So before I left, myself, Alieen and Connor (who had both qualified for the Northen Ireland team) met coach for run drills and the last final words before heading off. All the work had been done, there was nothing more I could do, just to go into the race and do exactly what I would do for any other race.
I arrived in sunny Scotland on Monday afternoon, but I soon got the feeling this race would have to be a little different. We got took to the athletes village to pick up our accreditations as we needed them to get ANYWHERE, including the course reccies which were the following day. So by the time all this was done we got back to the hotel and it was close on 7.30pm, I was starving, so a quick bite to eat, built my bike and was off to bed.
Tuesday came and off I went to the pool as I would do normally, and then back for a little break and then it was athletes briefing at 9am which was like any other normal briefing, except there were only about half the women there! Then it was the pontoon draw, this was something new for us as we had to pre pick where we wanted to stand as a starting position on the pontoon. As I was number 1 I had to pick first, and was then followed by the next top 9 athletes. The funny thing was that nobody knew what slot anyone else had chosen, the numbers were just blanked out, so you knew athletes had chosen certain slots, but you didn't know which athlete had chosen what spot. When we found out where everyone had picked, it was pretty spread out, with my side of the pontoon having a lot of the top ranked athletes, but then on the other side having some mega fast swimmers with the likes of Lucy Hall, Aileen Reid and Vicky Holland. After the draw I went round and did the course reccies which were quite chilled and was nice to have clear road with only 25 women on the start line. Then it was back to the hotel, I had a little bit of media stuff to do but thanks to JT and Laura in Team England it was quick, and I was quickly in the shade out of the scorching Scotland sun. That's one thing that came as a total surprise, I never thought I'd be saying Scotland, sun and 30 degress in the same sentence, but those were the conditions set up for the next few days.
Wednesday, pre race day, I did my normal routine and tried to keep things how I would do normally, nothing different, no changes, stick to the routine. Wednesday was all about relaxing, resting up, meeting Mom and Dad for a bit of lunch. Like I always say, bit of a boring day for me.
Race Day - The Glasgow heat continued, and water temp was annouced as 20.9, with th air temp mid 20s. Race started at 11.00am. All checked in, bikes racked. Red and white England suit was on with the Lion on my chest, proud and fired ready to go. We were called onto the pontoon and the cheer from the crowd gave me goosebumps, the Commonwealth Games had started.
Me and Coach Daz have a check list which includes what I want to achieve in the race, and standing on the pontoon that's what I'm thinking about - just what do I need to do?
The drums started - dum dum, dum dum, dum dum - it matched my heartbeat, and we were off. I started well, and found myself getting round the first bouy ok. I clocked Kirsten on my left which was good to know as we both know not to get in each others way getting around the first bouy. We both went round nice and clean then I started to focus, "ok where am I?", "where do I need to be?". Of course by this point Lucy was leading and I saw that I needed to move around people i order to brige up a little bit, so I did and managed to power by way up into a great position on Vicky Hollands feet, who in turn, was on Lucy's feet. As I was swimming I saw Aileen, now I know I'm in a good position. Half way point came and it was an England 1, 2, 3 out and back into the water, all I was thinking at this point was "I am not moving from here". I felt ok on the second half of the swim and was chuffed to bits coming out of the water in 3rd place, with the other 2 England girls just in front. Running into T1, all went fine, and I tried to get the group going, I knew Emma Jackson wasn't with us initially and knew she was a threat, but I don't think everyones legs turned up straight away, and we soon became a group of 10, with everyone there. Oh dear, all the athletes I who I thought would be close were there, and looking around at Andrea, Emma, Aileen, Vicky and Kirsten I didn't know how the bike and run would pan out. I expected Lucy to give it her all on the bike, and I knew with how stong she is I would struggle to react to her if she broke, which is exactly what happened. The bike course for me was pretty tough, not particualrly becuase of the pace, more so because of the course. I loved it, I enjoy racing an honest course where nobody can hide and you have to be good at all three to get the best out of the race. There were a couple of breaks from different girls, but I decided not to go with them, whether that was the right or wrong thing to do, only time would tell. Going onto the last lap Lucy broke, I tried to react but couldn't, she was gone, the gap went to about 25 seconds but we had clawed her back in by T2, and I held my position going into T2 which was a clean in and out.
The run, ok so everyone is there, I wanted to run strong, but not blow, "don't be stupid, think about what you're doing". I was going through my check list, "what can I do to make this easier?". My form, I was running well, and felt good, but with Emma Jackson and Kirsten Sweetland keeping the pace up with me at the front it wasn't easy running. It's so difficult to assess yourself against how other girls are running. I could see there was a group of around 5/6, and knowing Kirsten and Emma had both had good races just 10 days ago in Hamburg was a bit of a worry. Again I needed to focus on myself and what I needed to do.
I held my position for most of lap one, then allowed Emma and Kirsten to go ahead during the latter stages of lap 1 and onto lap 2 which is when we were joined by Andrea (who is a former bronze Commonwealth Games medallist). I sat in for lap 2 and the group stayed the same, nobody was giving anyting away, towards the end of lap 2 Kirsten put in a little surge which I responded to.
I picked it up a little going onto the last lap to test the water ,and this is where people started to drop off, 6 became 4 and by the time we'd gone up the hill and started the first steep run down 4 then became 3, myself, Kirsten and Vicky, all three in red & white. I went again, just a little more, so side by side me and Kirsten with Vicky tooled in. The last decent I knew I had to keep the pressure on, trying to get a little more with every step. I was hurting, but keeping things in control, "what would Darren be telling me what to do!?"
I go, and that's it. I chose my time and comitted. I couldn't look back, I wasn't sure who was behind me and who had dropped off, all I could do was look forward. In to the last right turn and I hear Glenn shout "you have a gap, you got to keep going", onto the blue carpet the crowd erupted, and to be honest I thought "bugger me it's a sprint finish", I gave it my apsolute all and I crossed the line. Oh my days I am Commonwealth Champion! I look back at the crowd and see my family and I expolode with an emotion overload. Kirsten and Vicky come across and wow what great girls to share the podium with. Me and vicky would be fighting for the happiest person in Glasgow over the 3 days that's for sure!
What an amazing moment to be able to share with my family and friends who had traveled up to watch me compete, and to everyone back home I can imagine you were screaming at the TV, believe me, I could feel you. To my training group in Morzine who I knew would be watching and of course the guy I have got so much to thank for, who has put up with the challenge that is me, my coach Darren Smith, I wished he could have been there with me but in spirit, and in my head! He was there guiding me through
On to the podium and medal presentation saw another load of emotion. Receiving that medal was amazing, I cannot explain how it felt and do it justice!
Then it was a recovery day with a little bit of swimming cycling running which was challenging in it self to not drown in the swimming pool and getting back to the hotel on my bike and runs was the challenge my body was in bit and i woke up on Saturday for the relay and my body was still in pieces but went for a swim which helped then headed down for the relay. so Vicky first then Jonny, Me and alistair, i have been favourite in the dream team before as learnt its not always the favourite that wins.
Wel got called down and introduced and later told by mum that we all took terrible and shattered as im sure we did but its team really day so we may have looked terrible but by the time it was our time to go it was race on. vicky and jonny did a fantastic job and tagged to me with a 15 sec gap, my running jump went with out my falling on my face which was my first concern and then on the bike the gap now to nz nicky samuels was 11seconds and before i knew it we were in t2 together with nicky, so 1600m sprint and yes i was spinning all the way and passed over to Al with 23sec gap, and well too be honest all i was waiting for was for his feet to touch the blur capet in T2 and knew we were ok. He crossed the line well clear, another gold, another commonwealth champion. tHE FIGHT FOR SILVER AND BROZE WAS epic with richard murray and a fantacti run and and Aroyl Roule from aus well wow what an effort!
So the last 3 days i have been on the roller coaster that is just going up up up and then is still going up when i got home and my fabulous auntie kay decorated my house and had some family and friends there that couldn't make it to glasgow. I really couldn't have done any of this with our there support i speak to them through social media all year when i am not home and they get me through the tough times.
Ever since i qualified my i crossed the line in london last year its been the goal for this year and my self and Darren smith, Rick V have worked so hard all year, my Dquaod family and been there with me training day in day out this thank list could go on for ever and of course my support team TYR, POWERBAR, OAKLEY, thank you so much
My phone is still lasting all of an hour from all the messages i am getting its breath taking, thank you so much to everyone !
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