Research shows that exercise can help improve your studies. This is so true! The endorphins that are released whilst exerting sends feel good messages to the brain and you can concentrate on work (Godman, 2016)

Primary school age children are good at this (Williams and Hill, 2010), but as we grow older and move into the later stages of education and then the world of work, we sometimes forget about how important sport is, especially how important it is for the disabled, no matter what the person’s capabilities are (NHS, 2016).

I have taken up RaceRunning, which has changed my life and my outlook on life. I am fitter so I am more confidence which in turn makes me want to throw myself into academic work. So in turn makes me happier and get on with life. So if you don’t do sport at the moment, I can’t express myself enough, get out there and try something you enjoy and you may feel better for it!!

Review of 2016!

Let’s start at the very beginning with January, but the journey began on Boxing Day 2015 when we had the horrific floods. We switched on the TV to see pictures of my flat and the car park was submersed under water. So the first adventure began, to get my Boccia chair down for me to go to England Camp (and spend 6 weeks with Mum and Dad, with Dad piggybacking me up and down stairs). Eventually I moved to a new bigger flat as it took another 3 months to get the lift fixed.

No one expected what followed. I knew I was overheating but January came the biggest event and I was advised to stop wearing skins or do more damage to my body while playing Boccia. I was distraught, although I initially thought I would still be able to throw. Disappointingly, when it came down to it I couldn’t pick up the ball without my gauntlet and the compression of the skins. After waiting until May to be reclassified as a BC3, my Boccia journey could begin again.

Early May was a busy time. I submitted my assessed work for the second part of year 1. I hired a new team and my uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer. Sadly he died in July shortly after marrying. I wrote this when I heard the news.

When a door closes
Another one opens
We cry
Get angry
Have emotional turmoil
But it doesn’t change that you have gone.

Gone to another place
A better place
To sleep
Just to sleep
Sleep tight and
You won’t be hurting anymore
Sleep well Uncle Richard

And, then this one too:

The sound of the sea
You clapping

The warmth of the sun
You smiling

The sight of the sand
You flowing across the room

When we are sad
You are happy
We just need to
Beyond our sadness
To see what you
Are doing

You are still there
But not visible
But if
We can see you again
Messing around

You are still there
You will always be
No time for anger
No time for blame
This is what you wanted
To be free
To be happy
To have fun again

Go on
No one is stopping you now

Swiftly on the heels of this we travelled to Canada. First to Niagara (see my blog) then Toronto for the ISAAC conference. It was a great opportunity to see one of the places on my bucket list and spend time with valued friends from around the world.

In September I went to CM, my 7th in a row! Mum had her knee replaced and it’s turned out well. The end of September saw me back at Uni, I love it!

In November I discovered race running which I know is going to be a new passion. This is how I feel about it:

Free, soar, fly
Let me be me
I want independence for myself
To be able to dream
My body for my own
Its ok, let go
One step for another
One moment to explore
One thought unleashed
To feel something special
I can do it
Just let the dream unfold
Unfolding to be beautiful
Beautiful to hold
Hold to let go
Let go to take a step.
Let me fly, soar and be free!

2016 ended with a Harry Potter fest. We went to London to see the Cursed Child – brilliant and I saw Fantastic Beasts and where to find them twice.

I’m back in serious training for Boccia, working on my core strength with the race runner and have some bold personal development plans.

Have a great 2017

ISAAC 2016

This is a blog from ISAAC 2016

1 Aug 2016

Today is… Canada time
imageBeen on the plane since 12 (uk time), now 3pm (Canadian time), and I think we are coming over America. Had fun reading Harry Potter with Becky, it has become nail biting. Watched Finding Nemo and now writing in the journal. I have never done a electronic journal but so far so good. Everything went surprisingly smoothly this morning, no issue with the chair, but I don’t want to speak too soon, we’re not there yet! Just had more food and for the first time drank apple juice just out of the cup! Benefits of getting fitter :) Now listening to some tunes whilst writing. So good i am writing this electronically as I can take photographs as I go :)

Looking forward to seeing people from Wednesday in Toronto but first to Niagara Falls to tick it off my bucket list.

Big white fluffy clouds
Doesn’t appear to care
As the big old motor
Saw over,

So still
Each of them
To each to their own

Thats it for today, the Canadian declaration form is here so hopefully nearly there!

2 Aug 2016

Got up, breakfasted and now in a ‘Dodge’ on our way to Niagara Falls! All packed and we are on our way! Just 4 hours and we will see one of the 7 wonders in my world, which are:


1. Effiel Tower
2. Niagara Falls
3. Sydney Opera House
4. Great Barrier Reef
5. Edinburgh Horse heads
6. Hampton Court
7. North Bay, Scarborough

imageI have always wanted to see Niagara Falls because it is one of the biggest water Falls in the world!  Wow… This is a spectacular view, the mist coming up and its like it has a cooling feeling to it that goes well with the warmth of the weather!

Got a room upgrade and wowwy this is insanity bonkers

3 Aug 2016
imageJust WOW! A view to die for when I got up this morning. I just love it and although mum and dad don’t know it yet, I will be returning to the magnificent spectacle for longer.
Moving on to today, we’re having breakfast soon and driving back to Toronto to the Westin Harbour Hotel which is the official conference Hotel and Venue, so I am guessing we will be seeing a lot of friends and making new ones there later!

In the car on the way back to Toronto. I am trying to count all the Canadian flags, so far I think I have 10 and counting. Now eating sweets ‘Juicy squirt berries’. Interesting combination! They look like normal sweets but when it bite into them, they fill my mouth with juice!

I am looking forward to see the Greens, the Andersons and everyone else.

Got to the hotel at 2 the I think, saw Aldona and Sarah Yong then had lunch with Meredith Allen!

Popped to find the pool and now back in the room.

4 Aug 2016
Good morning from Toronto. Last night we had the biggest hug with Meredith, poor girl hadn’t eaten in 3 days, Sarah Yong and Aldona. Still haven’t seen the Greens or Janice. The Olympics starts tomorrow! Keeping up the girly look, I am definitely going to keep this up when we get back home! I have finally adapted to the time zone.

We went shopping where I got a jumper and then had tea with Meredith and Janice

5 Aug 2016
imageDecided to have breakfast in our room from now onward as the food here at the hotel is ridiculously expensive, so have gone out to buy breakfast supplies. I think today we’re meeting Paul.  I wonder who else we are going to see today. We are in serious discussion about moving over to the iPad for communication as it looks like that is the way forward. Keeping up the girly look, wearing a dress today! Ooo laa laa!

We stayed in our hotel and saw Paul, then went to the Harbour and walked him back to his hotel before going underground again. I got eye q so we should be back on track now, and a electronic travel toothbrush with a head that I am used to.

Back in the room now, having a rest. At the moment we have no arrangements for dinner, just us 4.

6 Aug 2016
Had breakfast in our room again. Then went to the Market. They had wonderful steaks and fish. Then we took our photo outside the hockey wall of fame. Came back to the hotel, saw Cathy and Neil and then ran through my presentation before going to dinner with Annalu and Kathleen. Had dinner upstairs in the 5* restaurant. Amazing glass walled place on he 34th floor of the hotel,

7 Aug 2016
Today we can register from 12 exciting! I wonder who’ll we see today. Keeping up the girly look. Having breakfast in our room again.

8 Aug 2016
imageConference time! I did my presentation. The room was packed and was overfilling! I have a feeling that this conference is going to be like Pittsburgh where they were scanning our badges. It did come true! Went to the President’s Drinks reception and then had dinner with Janice.

9 Aug 2016
Conference. Went to a few talks. Ate at a nice pub. Not much to comment on today

10 Aug 2016
It is words+ time. This time the winner is Glenda Hyatt and the North star. Well done to her.
Went to hear Darryl’s talk with Janice, Amanda and Pammi
In the evening it was the President Dinner. I don’t remember much as I got too cold in the day!

11 Aug 2016
I went to Meredith’s talk today. Interesting but enjoyable.

Found out where the 2018 ISAAC is… We’re going down under! G’day mate! Can’t wait!!!

Conference is closed.

image12 Aug 2016
We went for a swim and then for a walk today. It is hot outside! We saw the King of Norway’s ship and spoke to one of his staff, who actually is at University studying for a degree in Political Sciences. Who knew!

Tomorrow I think we are meeting our next door neighbours as they are in Toronto and on Sunday we fly home!

just want to thank Becky for being such a great friend and companion this trip.

Gold at the Polish Boccia Open

poland gold
What an amazing weekend in Poland, winning gold.  There was a great team atmosphere, play was good and our hosts were really friendly.

Because of the flight times I travelled out to Poznan on Wednesday 25 November with my BC1 Assistant, Sarah, and my Mum.  We met Matt and Richard from Boccia England at Luton airport along with another player Penny and her parents. The flight and transfers went smoothly, the transfer to Wagrowiec took an hour and a half and we arrived at the hotel around 9.30pm, in all we had been on the road 13 hours.

Joanna the organiser was waiting to meet us and immediately took us to the dining room for a meal before we checked in. (Food figures highly in my life……I am always hungry and need to eat every 2 to 3 hours). Anyway by 10.30pm we rolled into our beds.  It had been a tiring day, but I was really excited to be in Poland and ready to compete.

Thursday was a free day, Josh and Jabe, the other players, weren’t due to arrive until tea time.  After a leisurely breakfast we all ventured off to the local town.  The route was along the lake was really accessible. Just a pity it was so cold, we were well wrapped up (except Matt who had left his coat in England!) but it still became chilly quite quickly.  Once at the town we split up; Sarah, Mum and I went to the supermarket and bought supplies, then made our way back to the hotel for lunch.

In the afternoon we had a warm up in the ballroom, probably the most fabulous place I’ve ever played, good job we weren’t practising lobs with those chandeliers!!  When we came down for dinner Josh and Jabe had arrived along with families and assistants. It was nice for the players and coaches to all sit together whilst the parents and assistants were relegated to sit with Richard.  More food……..then a team briefing, followed by a quick boccia game with everyone playing.  Somehow Richard, Matt and Sunil (coach) won, was it a fix that they managed to get a bye into the final?

Friday morning dawned early.  We had to be up and ready to leave at 7.15am.  We arrived around 8 at the venue, and the BC1s and BC4s were all competing at the same times throughout the day.  We had matches scheduled at 9am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm, pity as we couldn’t watch each other.  With only 6 BC1 entrants from Germany, Poland and England there was to be a round robin competition (The BC4s had rounds and positional playoffs).

My first game I won 12-1 and only later found out my opponent was Polish champion and has a Bisfed world ranking of 39.  This winning start made me feel confident to move on.

My second match was against another Polish player, this was much tougher. Robert was a great short game player – very accurate just over the v line, however, I managed to win on my longer ends and the final result was 6-5. I’m pleased I didn’t find out until I got home he is world ranked #66.  Sometimes it’s better not to know but to just go in and fight the fight.  Two games up, a great feeling, time to start breathing again.

In between games I tried to keep my energy up and eat.  By 4.30pm I was ready to go again, the last match of the day was versus an athlete from Germany.  40 minutes later it was over for the day and I had another win under my belt, final score 8-2.  By now I also knew that Jabe was doing well, we both had won all 3 of our first day matches and on the Saturday had to face each other.

Friday night we sat down for dinner together again, there was a lot less chat, everyone was focused on their own performance and the competition and it seemed everyone wanted an early night.  Saturday was not quite such an early start, transport was due at 8.15am with the BC4s on first at 11am then Jabe and I playing each other at 1.30pm.

poland sarahAt this stage Jabe and I were the only BC1 players to have won all of our 3 games, the pressure was on.  Whoever won our match was likely to take Gold, we’ve played before, and I think we are evenly matched.  I spent the two hours before preparing, in my own bubble.  First putting on my skins, doing my stretches and then warming up.  During my court practice I was joined by Matt who helped me to focus on the upcoming match.  Sarah has been supporting me in competition now for nearly a year and she knows what to say and how to keep my motivation high.  Off we went to the call up room, I followed my usual routine of listening to music before coming out onto court.  As we arrived at the court the seats along the side were lined with the BC4s, England coaches and family members – no pressure then!

The match began, Jabe had chosen to be red but I took the first end by 1.  Second end I threw long and was pleased with my lay up, I took the end by another 1.  Time to breathe, I was up but knew with Jabe the score could turn around at any time.  The crowd were calling, we both had a lot of support.  End 3 Jabe went short and this time got in 3, so going into the final end I needed at least 2 to win.  Remembering my routine first, again I went long, my lay up was not quite as good, but good enough, Jabe went for blocking and suddenly I had 5 balls left to avoid a tie break.  Nerves hit and I was down to my last ball, it was ‘now or never’.  I breathed deep and threw the perfect shot laying up to the jack, final score 4-3.  Four games, 4 wins, whoopee.

polandthrowJust one game was left. If I could win then the gold would be mine.  This time I managed 11-0 win. Wow, it was over, my first international gold!!!!  And great news, Team BC1 ruled, Jabe had won his last game too so was in silver medal position. Once all the other games were over there were photos, time to lark around, and then medals.  I felt I needed someone to pinch me, was it real?  My previous best performances had come in May when I got 5th in Prague, and June in Slovakia when I came 4th (my highlight of that event was beating the then BISFED world ranked #7).

Throughout this competition Sarah was amazing and Matt was excellent.  He had great feedback after each game, was supportive before each match and made me feel really confident, that I was worthy of winning – Thank you Mr Kendrick.

My head was spinning as we loaded the bus back to the hotel, we went straight into dinner before going to our rooms to change for the party.  A nice relaxing bath then down to eat again at the banquet before dancing the night away.  Needless to say it wasn’t the earliest of nights, but great to celebrate with everyone.

Sunday morning I woke up asking ‘did I really win gold?’ it seemed like a dream.  We were just going to breakfast when Richard found us with news that the transport had been changed, we could stay at the hotel until 3pm (instead of leaving at 10am and spending the day at the airport).  We ate and went up to the foyer to say good bye to Jabe and Josh as their flight home was much earlier.  We had a quiet morning, ate lunch with Matt and Richard and eventually set off home.

The most eventful part of the flight (apart from the bumpy landing) was when Poznan Airport told us they could load my chair, but we wouldn’t get it back in Doncaster as there was no equipment to unload it, did we want to step off the flight?  We decided to take the risk and fly, when we arrived back in Yorkshire we found a fantastic welcome with the smoothest transfer ever off the plane and out of the airport!!  We were home by 11pm and I was in bed asleep as soon as my head touched my pillow.

Travel and competition can be tiring. Monday’s I have a 9am lecture at Uni, so I was up by 6.45am.  However, with no other commitments for the day when I got back to my flat I rolled back into bed and slept until the middle of the afternoon.  I’ll take it easy now until Thursday (no training just lectures Tuesday and Wednesday) when I’ll start back to training in preparation for the GB Championships in 10 days time.

What I’ve learned from 3 internationals is to make sure I’m rested before we leave, to plan for every eventuality, to expect late nights, early mornings and that the food might be very different from home.  And, as always thank you to Boccia England who work hard to make sure we are well looked after, taking part has been another great experience.