For starters we were in London in July to compete in my third World Championships, which I mentioned we were heading to at the end of my previous blog post. Being back in London, 5 years after the Paralympic games, was incredible. The organization of the games was flawless and the people brought the same level of encouragement, support and enthusiasm for para-sport. You always know that you will be racing in front of a big crowd when you go to London. It was also a very special moment being back out on that track where my track career really took off – needless to say it brought up a lot of emotions and wonderful memories.
The hotel we stayed in is attached to the mall that is near the stadium. The mall is also right next to where the athletes village was in 2012 so it was great to see that area again. We took a little walk through the area, while meeting up with one of Team Bermuda’s NPC assistance we had in 2012, Daren. It was great to meet up with him again and to reminisce about London 2012. Being able to see the buildings that housed us then being used for other families was a great thing to see. So many times you hear about these facilities just sitting being unused/falling down, but in London it has provided homes to so many people. The area has really been developed too.
The games were also a big milestone for our training group as for the first time Ken got all 4 of his core elite athletes (Curtis, Austin, Isaiah and me) to a World Championships together. Quite an accomplishment for him I’d say 😊
In September, I started my internship at Post Inn Village Long-term Care Home, as my last credit before getting my degree. I have been interning with the Life Enrichment department with the recreational therapists. It has been an absolutely incredible experience. Finally getting to work with people and being able to use my studies in a real-life setting has been very exciting. The staff there are so wonderful and have taught me so much in such a short time. The experience has challenged me both professionally and personally. It has also made for a very busy schedule with working full time and training but has been an extremely rewarding experience. I am coming up to my last couple of weeks (finishing December 15th) and it will be hard to say goodbye to the staff and the residents. Rec therapy is certainly the best field to be working in for me because you get to help other people everyday to enjoy their lives and to realize the potential they have, which if you know me or have read by previous blogs is what I am really passionate about.
Ken was the most incredible person with the biggest heart. He helped anyone and everyone, no matter where you were from. His passion for the sport and dedication to his athletes was the most incredible thing. He was always full of life and positivity and you never felt down about yourself or your goals after talking with him. I am very fortunate that I had the privilege of being his athlete. He always believed in me and pushed me beyond my limits because he knew that I was capable of it. The bond between an athlete and their coach is a very special one, which he always said can sometimes be stronger than a bond between parents and their children because in order for the relationship to work you have to have full trust in each other and be able to tell them anything and everything. He was more than a coach to me and even though our journey together was cut short we achieved some amazing things, we had some of the best laughs and I will forever cherish all of the things he taught me.
Wheelchair track and Ken have given me my life journey and purpose. It has helped me to be proud of who I am and to accept that my life comes with a disability. It has helped me see that I am capable of achieving and doing anything that I want. I am who I am today because of it and I owe everything I am right now and will be to Ken and my incredible teammates. It has been very difficult to picture continuing on this journey without Ken here with us but we are very fortunate that he was able to bring together such a great group of athletes who have formed a family and we know that we have to stick together and work together to continue on in Ken’s honour. After all, as his athletes and if you had the chance to meet this amazing man, you will know that he would be mad if we missed a practice!
As I was writing this blog, mainly about my comment of Ken getting us all to a World Championships at the same time, it has occurred to me that our journey together came full circle. By that I mean my first big international competition with Ken being my full time coach took place in London in 2012 at the Paralympic Games and my last competition with him took place in London in the same stadium at World Championships. This is something I have not thought of before and to me it shows just how much our partnership worked by how much we accomplished together in just 5 years. Thank you Ken for everything!
That’s it for now - thanks again for continuing to follow me along this journey – especially at this very hard time in my career. Your love and support has been amazing!!
- Desire, Dream, Vision -