What’s Next?

Well it has been a long time since my last blog, which although it wasn’t intentional, it was time that I needed to adjust.

Since November I have been on an incredible rollercoaster of emotions. I tried to return to the basketball team for Rio but my health was still not allowing me to reach the standard needed to consistently perform against the very best women’s players in the country. And despite performing well at selection camp, I was not chosen for the 12 for the Paralympics or the reserves.

To say I was devastated is an understatement and it has taken me a couple of months to make my peace with the situation. But my health has to be the priority and despite still not quite being 100%, I am working with some incredible people to get me back to my best. Therefore I feel it is the right time for me to announce my retirement from the GB Wheelchair Basketball program. Without wanting to distract from the team and their preparations for Rio, I need this information to be public to allow me to have full closure.

That said I will be going out to Rio as a spectator and I’m looking forward to seeing a Paralympics from a completely different angle.

So what is next for me? Well I’ve accepted a playing contract at Santo Stefano in Italy. As daunting as the prospect of moving to a foreign country is, I’m really looking forward to a completely different way of life and a different kind of challenge.

Beyond that I’m unsure but I’ve been trying my hand at a bit of kayaking so you never know, there may be a Tokyo medal in kayaking with my name on it. You’ll have to watch this space 🙂

Ups and downs!

Having got into a pattern of training in Worcester and slowly increasing my training load, this month it has been very much disrupted for many reasons.

The first disruption was a training camp held in the school half term holidays. Due to my recent return to training and not having met the criteria set, my name was not on the invite list for this camp. But not wanting to let this change my forward momentum I decided to use the opportunity to get some really high level training in with the Titans Premier Team, which I really enjoyed.

After this the performance group (the Europeans squad) took a trip to The Netherlands to play a series of friendlies against the Dutch. Unfortunately, this left the remaining players without a coach. My plan was to continue to train with Titans and do a few sessions on my own while the team was away but a couple of incidents at training and a match resulted in me needing to take a few days to let my body recover.

This week has been our off week, which means anything but taking a week off training…normally! I was planning on doing a few, high intensity training sessions – quality not quantity – but that plan was also scuppered when I decided to get ill on Sunday. So all in all, it has been a challenging few weeks.

In the league, my 2nd division team have had a few more matches and currently have a 3-2 win-loss ratio. 1st division have played 2 more matches and although we were missing 4 of our 7 named players for the last match against Cardiff Celts, the team is still undefeated.

This weekend sees the start of the women’s league season in Nottingham. This year is going to be a difficult year for Titans Women due to losing a couple of key players for various reasons, but what I love about the team is the unrivalled desire, passion and team spirit. It really is a fantastic group of ladies and I’m looking forward to playing along side them again.

It’s free to come and watch so if you’re in the Nottingham area this weekend, come along and watch some high level women’s wheelchair basketball at The Jesse Boot Basketball Arena.

Basketball, basketball and more basketball

It’s true what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. The last 2 weeks have just flown by and I’ve enjoyed it…mostly!

Every Monday and Friday we’ve been doing timed sprints and I’m consistently beating my times. I’m so pleased as it means I’m no longer the slowest at training and it means I’m a little closer to getting back in the team. I’m enjoying seeing the improvements I’m making and I’m coping reasonably well with the work load, I’m just a couple of weeks away from being back to a full training week.

I have had a couple of issues with my shoulders since coming back to training but I’ve managed to find a couple of people to help keep me going. Back home in High Wycombe I’ve been lucky enough to discover Steve Lodge (stevelodge.com), an ex footballer turned physiotherapist. From just one session with Steve, I’m confident that he will be crucial in my route back into the team. In Worcester I’ve returned to 206 Physiotherapy, who help out with the GB program from time to time and who have been keeping me going in between sessions with Steve.

Since my last blog the league season has started. I’ve played one match and coached 2 matches. Titans had 2 wins against CWBA in the 1st & 2nd divisions, in two very tough match. The 2nd division match went to overtime, which considering it was my coaching debut, I was pleased that I managed to keep myself and my team calm and take the win. The match I coached this weekend was against Swindon Shock, another tough match which unfortunately didn’t go our way. But lots to work on and I’m looking forward to getting my team together to go through some ideas I’ve had.

That’s all from me for now.

Let the hard work begin

Yesterday was my first day back in Worcester for the GB Women’s centralised program. We started at 7am with fitness testing which will be regularly assessed. It confirmed what I already knew, I’m very unfit and no way near as fast in my basketball chair as I was. But I like to see the positive and therefore the only way is up!

When I decided I wanted to come back to training in Worcester I had an ideal in my head that I would be fit and ready to throw myself back in to training. Unfortunately, although my health is a lot better than it was, I’ve been struggling with training and not getting ill afterwards. This is improving but it is just another challenge to overcome! To begin with I will be doing a reduced training load with the goal of being back in full training as soon as possible.

This coming weekend I have my first league match of the season and I will also be making my coaching debut for Titans 2nd division team away to Coventry. I’ve taken on coaching the 2nd div team as part of my grade 3 coaching course so as well as the coaching, I have a lot of paper work to complete as evidence for the course. Everyone loves paperwork…don’t they!!!

Not much else to report but going to make an effort to do my blog more regularly. Or at least that’s the plan!

Change of plan!

It has been a whole year since my last blog and as I mentioned at the end of the last blog I was planning to take some time out of training. Well that few month out turned into a year and even now I’m still trying to build my fitness back up in preparation for my return to the centralised program in Worcester at the end of the month. It’s been a tough year but I’m happy to say I’m finally feeling more human and as determined as ever to get back on the basketball court.

So what have I been up to in my year off I hear you ask! As well as resting and getting myself better, I’ve been making the most of my free time and spending it with friends and family, something I’m just not able to do when I’m training. I’ve also been developing myself as a wheelchair basketball coach, in May I did my Grade 2 coaching course and managed to get it signed off in time to begin my Grade 3 in August. So this season is going to be a busy one for me because as well as playing in the 1st division for London Titans, I will be coaching the 2nd division team as practical experience towards my Grade 3.

Also, despite not playing at the European Championships, I was there as a volunteer and ended up commentating on the live stream. Another thing to go on the CV especially as the women’s semi-finals and finals I commentated on was broadcasted on the BBC red button. It was a successful tournament for both the men’s and women’s teams securing their place at the Rio Paralympics and both teams on the medal podium, retaining their gold and bronze medals respectively.

In my year off I also took the opportunity to do a little travelling. I’ve been to Milan, Scotland, Malaga, Paris, Devon and the highlight of this summer, Cuba. Off the back of my trip to Cuba I’ve also started writing a travel blog which you can check out at https://accessibleworldtravel.wordpress.com

So the next challenge is getting fit and getting fit without becoming ill again as my immune system seems to have taken a bit of a hit. It’s going to be a long road but as I always say ‘if it was easy everyone would do it’!

Life After the World’s

Another 2 months have passed since my last blog and I really don’t know where the time has gone (I know I say that every time).

I’ve done loads of travelling since the World Championships in June. I’ve been to Shetland, Tenerife, Brazil and Milan. The highlight of which was an orientation trip to Brazil.

The intention of the trip was to trial a potential holding camp venue for Rio 2016 Paralympics in São Paulo, as well as seeing the basketball venue in Rio De Janeiro. While we were there we took the opportunity to see Christ The Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana Beach. We even made a special effort to get up very early to see a spectacular sunrise over the Copacabana which I’m very glad we did. I’m thinking of having this snap made into a canvas.

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When visiting the Paralympic venue, you can’t help but get excited for the events in 2 years time…in fact it’s just 716 days until the opening ceremony!

After our Brazilian adventure we were straight back into it with preparations for National Paralympic Day. We spent 3 days at the University of East London where we played the Dutch twice and then we travelled to the Copper Box for our showcase match against the Paralympic Bronze medalists. We put out a young squad and although we were poor in the first half of the match, we gave them an excellent 4th quarter and lost by just 4 points. Yet more evidence of the talent coming through in our squad, the future for the GB Women is very bright. If you missed it, you can watch the Channel 4 highlights program here or you can search on the 4OD app.

I’d love to tell you all that I’m back in training and I’m excited for the challenge of the year ahead but I’ve decided to take a little time out of training for now. I’ve been having health issues since March and made the decision to get myself well before I throw myself back into the full on training program in Worcester. My intentions haven’t changed, I’m still planning on training towards the European Championships which are being held in Worcester in 2015 and the Paralympics in 2016 but to be the best I can be on the basketball court, I need to look after myself 🙂

So doctors orders are rest and I have to say I’m awful at that! The new league season is getting under way and although I’m not going to be playing in any matches just yet, I’m hoping to go and watch GB Coyotes play on Sunday (3.30 tip at Woking College), as well as any other local matches I can get to. Hope to see you there.

Onwards and Upwards

It has been a week since we returned from Canada and it’s still sinking in that we achieved our best ever world ranking.

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I’m currently on my holidays so this blog will be short but I thought I would bring together all the match reports from the World Championships with my own short summary, so here you go:

Great Britain are first team to win at 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship!

An early start with the opening match of the tournament. Brazil took us to a very close match last time we played at the Paralympics in London but this time we made sure we didn’t let that happen. Although we stated a little nervous we managed to get a comfortable 56-37 win.

Great Britain put up strong defence against Paralympic Champions at the 2014 Women’s World Championship

This was the match where we wanted to show the progress we’d made as a team but unfortunately our shots just wouldn’t drop. Despite keeping the Paralympic gold medalists to just 55 points, our total of 33 was disappointing and not enough to to win at this level of competition.

Short-benched GB Team battle to victory over Japan at the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship

Having played Japan a couple of times at the recent Tri-Nations Cup at Worcester Arena, we knew that this was a team we could play well against. We were missing 2 players due to illness but this just showed the depth of the squad with other players stepping up and taking a lead role. We worked our way to a comfortable 62-48 win.

Great Britain secure Quarter Final spot at the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship!

Last time we played China, they got the W to take them to the 5th/6th playoff at the London Paralympics but this time it was us who got the all important win to secure our quarter final spot. It was a close match until we dominated in the 3rd quarter to take control of the match and eventually won 64-47.

Great Britain to face the USA in Quarter Finals of 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship

Another tough match where the lead changed hand many times but the win wasn’t to be ours on this occasion. Our defence wasn’t as strong as in previous matches and our execution offensively wasn’t there. That said, we finished the pool round in 3rd and this meant a cross over against the US. Final score Canada 59-52 GB.

Reigning World Champions battle to gritty Quarter Final victory over Great Britain

Once again our shooting let us down and although we were able to bring the margin back to single figures on a few occasions, the USA proved to be too strong for us and they advanced to the semi-finals with 53-41 win.

Great Britain on track to secure highest ever finish at Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship

Having played the French 5 times at a recent tournament, we knew that they could be dangerous if we allowed them to play offence. It took until the 4th quarter for GB to make our mark on the match but it saw us edge out a 17 point win, with the final score 58-41.

Great Britain defeat Paralympic silver medallists to secure best ever finish at the Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship

This was without a doubt our best match of the tournament and although the scores were tied at the end of 40 minutes, we made no mistake in overtime. We kept calm and edge to a 7 point win, scoring 77 points against a strong Australian squad.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent good luck messages during the tournament. The positivity we felt from everyone at home was incredible and really helped to boost the squad at difficult times. I’m hugely proud of what the squad has achieved in such a short space of time and I’m excited for the next 2 years building up to Rio, although I know it will be a lot of hard work.

Shut In & World Championships Prep

For those of you that follow me on Twitter you will know that the Tri Nations Tournament in April was a mixed bag for GB. We had 2 wins over Japan and 2 losses against Germany. The showcase match of the tournament was by far our best team performance even though we lost by 7 to Germany.

In May we entered ‘Shut In’ which was a time to get the whole squad together as much as possible. This is our main prep for the World’s and it has been hard work but hugely enjoyable.

This weekend was especially tough as we had league playoffs as well as early training every day. On the Saturday Titans women took on Vixens in a tense match and came out with the win. Sundays match was against Steelers where we didn’t perform and ended up losing by 20 points which meant we finished 3rd in the league. A disappointing end to a great season!

Now we’re in Germany playing a series of friendlies against Germany and USA. Next week we travel to France for more matches and 16th June sees us travel to Canada for the World Championships. I can’t believe how fast this year has gone! I doubt I will have a chance for another blog before the World’s but I hope you will follow the teams progress.

Huge thank you to everyone who came to Worcester to support us at the Tri Nations. If you’re craving some more Wheelchair Basketball action, the GB men take on Japan in the Continental Clash at Worcester Arena on 5th June. For more information go to www.gbwba.org.uk

Around the world in 10 days

What an exciting few weeks I’ve had!

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’ve been travelling the world with my first stop being São Paulo in Brazil. I actually think I spent more time travelling to Brazil than I was actually there for but it was a very productive trip and I even got to go to Carnival! We even managed to get VIP tickets which meant the opportunity to get our hair and make-up done…carnival style

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The purpose of the trip was to find a training venue for a camp later this year and in the build up to the Rio Paraplympics in 2016 and we managed to find two viable options, now we just have to choose which one works best for both the men’s and women’s squads.

Then it was home for a few days before heading to Switzerland for EuroLeague. EuroLeague is the equivalent of Champions League in football so the best league teams in Europe battle it out. We were out there as GB Coyotes, so an all female team, playing against mixed teams as we do in our national league. Because another team from Britain had withdrawn, we had been put up a division which meant we were playing some very strong teams. We weren’t able to get a win in the 4 matches we played but we definitely learnt a lot from the matches and it gave us an opportunity to try a new style of play against new opponents.

We got back on Sunday morning and it was straight over to celebrate my mums birthday with my family. Although I got there and went straight for a nap because I was exhausted from the weekend away. I don’t get a lot of time with my family, especially not together, so it was a really lovely afternoon and we had fantastic weather for it.

Since then it’s been back to Worcester and training full time. Last week our head coach, Miles, came over from America and he’s now moved to the UK until after the Worlds. This means we are being put through our paces on a daily basis. It’s awesome!

I’m currently in Holland for a series of friendlies against the Dutch. They are currently ranked 3rd in the world and 1st in Europe so it will be a very challenging weekend but you have to play the best teams to be the best and that is exactly what we aspire to be. I will keep Twitter up to date with the result so keep checking back.

Also this month we have the Tri Nations Tournament against Japan and Germany. This takes place at the University Arena in Worcester between the 18th – 20th April. We have 2 showcase matches, the first is on Friday 18th April. At 5pm GB take on Japan before the BBL match between Worcester Wolves & Glasgow Rocks at 19.30pm. Tickets to the Wolves game must be bought to gain entrance to the GB game using this link here

On Saturday the main showcase game will be at 19.30pm against Germany. Tickets are free but they must be registered for via the BWB website www.gbwba.org.uk

Hope to see some of you there 🙂

Wild weather, training camps and Winter Olympics

It’s been a little longer than I’d planned between blogs but I honestly can’t tell you what happened to January, it flew by. And most of February for that matter!

In January the squad went out to Alabama for a training camp with our new head coach. Unfortunately because we were given the dates for this trip quite late, I had already arranged a weekend away with some of my friends. It sounded like the squad had a great time out there and although they didn’t win any of the matches they played, really enjoyed playing against what is essentially an all star international team based at the university.

As for my weekend away, it was excellent and although I’m gutted I wasn’t with the team, I’m glad I made the decision to go with my friends. Basketball takes up so much of my time that I always seem to be cancelling on my friends so it was nice to put them first for a change and I know it meant a lot to them.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to have some free weekends, which is very rare. This has meant I’ve been able to spend some time with family and friends as I know the closer we get to the World Championships, the less free time I will have.

I’m spending a lot of time in Worcester at the moment, especially now I have the keys to my new flat 🙂 It’s such a relief to have a permanent place there now, it means I’m able to concentrate on my training rather than worrying about where I’m staying, where I will eat, etc.

Training is still going well and I’m really loving the set up in Worcester. Although this was severely disrupted last week and the week before due to the flooding in Worcester. The flooding meant that we were unable to get to the Worcester Arena and all of the bookings from the arena were moved to the university. It meant we had to share the basketball court but it was great that they were still able to provide us with court time. The other issue we had was the main bridge in the city was closed due to the flooding so rather than the normal 5 minutes to get from my flat to training, it was taking 30 minutes minimum. But lucky for me it was just an inconvenience, my thoughts are with anyone who has been majorly affected my the extreme weather we’ve been having recently.

Last week we had another squad training camp and instead of being in Worcester as originally planned, the camp was moved to Stoke Mandeville as the floods continued to cause disruption. It was a great camp and it felt like we made great progress as a team. The great thing about the set up this year is that we followed the camp up with league matches. This means we get to practice things we’ve been working on at camp against teams that don’t know how we play. When you continually play against the same people it can be less productive than playing against other teams.

We got 2 wins following camp and although we made hard work of the first match against Jaguars winning by just 1 point, we really dominated the second match beating Celts by 20 points.

Over the last few weeks I found myself completely engulfed in Olympic fever once again and I’m gutted that the Sochi Olympics is over. I even found myself enjoying and understanding Curling. I really have a lot of admiration for the winter Olympians and I honestly think they are crazy, especially those taking part in the Slope Style & Half-pipe events. I’m really looking forward to the Paralympics starting on the 7th March. I know I’ll be hooked once again!

I have a few very exciting weeks coming up. On Thursday I’m travelling to São Paulo in Brazil to check out training venues for a potential training camp later this year. I’m there for just a few days and when I get back to the UK, I’m only home for a few days before we go to Switzerland for EuroLeague. So I will try and keep my twitter up-to date with how everything is going, I’m not expecting to have much free time but I should be able to find time for a sunshine selfie 😉