My phone rang and I knew answering it would be life changing one way or the other. For three years I have worked towards this moment when my phone would ring to simply be told yes or no. Such simple words which come out of our mouths so frequent have never had such an implication on my life, the news would be shocking either way a bit like being told you could go blind. But this call would either leave me feeling like a had achieved the impossible or have the trade winds suddenly disappear from your sails yet again. The caller I.D lit up as it vibrated across the table with Jon Pett, he is the British Para-cycling program manager. He has worked hard to try and change the culture and set up for the athletes and I was pleased to be getting this call from Jon regardless of which way it went.
Straight to the point Jon read from a script, making sure he gave every athlete the same wording and delivery as he would be making twenty something calls this evening. As Jon spoke I moved to the front of my seat, hands on my head, heart racing like an interval session. So much work had gone into achieving this dream and as he spoke I wondered could I have done anymore.
“Congratulations you have been selected to represent the Great Britain Cycling Team at the Rio Paralympic’s 2016 in the 4km Pursuit, the Time Trial and Road Race.”
Hearing those words ended a three year journey. If I look back to the British Cycling talent ID day, watching the short film presented from the staff showing clips of cyclists winning gold medals it seemed so far away and impossible to achieve. I had ridden a road bike but the thought of racing on one terrified me. I was 35 and surely far to old to become an elite athlete training full time. This challenge seemed perfect, a test which would push me to the very limits of my physical capability.
It’s the end of a journey which i can honestly look back on with pride. The things we have had to change in our lives, the support Caroline my wife has shown and the ends she has gone too to help get me to this point. I sense telling her the news means as much to her as it does to me. I guess what shines brightest over those three years are my team mates. Those guys who pick you up when you are down or injured, those guys that you turn yourself inside out with during training sessions on the bike or in the gym. Those guys who you are in competition with every day to push harder on the pedals, lift more weight in the gym or do more stretching at night. Those guys that become your family as you spend as much time with them in hotel rooms all over Europe as you do with your own wife. They are the ones who understand like no one else what it takes to stand on the podium and the real sense of achievement behind that. They are also the ones you laugh hysterically with, spitting water out because they have told a joke which has caught you mid drink that will split you’re sides and leave you crying with laughter. Those guys that will shoot you to pieces any chance they get to put you in the cross hairs of ruthless friendly fire. With these guys, my brothers, I have never laughed so hard in all my life.
As the day grows old and Jon makes his round of calls the news filters through. I couldn’t think of a job which offers such polar opposites in delivering news to people. I always knew this day would be bitter sweet either way. But to find out those boys who have gone through the ringer with you may not be on the plane with you leaves me feeling hollow. I want them to be there with me to show the world what we have achieved in such a short space of time and to deliver that performance we have worked so hard to achieve.
All that is left to do now is set a new goal. Winning gold in Rio! As I write this a smile appears on my face as the impossible just became possible. We all have barriers weather we put them there ourselves or they are forced upon us by other means. We can either look at those barriers as to high to climb, to heavy to lift or to hard to break down. There are only two simple answers, some people will accept no as an answer and some of us are driven to find where our limits are. People are different and deal with things in different ways, that’s what makes life colourful. I can’t remember ever being fearless, having no self doubt, being bullet proof or knowing everything would work out okay. Maybe that fight is instilled in me by my parents or maybe it’s to prove something to someone. For you maybe it’s the actions of a hero, or something you read, a quote that resinated within you, maybe reading this will ignite the spark to start your next journey the next chapter in your life whatever that maybe. The only advice I can offer is dream big and just try, you may surprise yourself in making the impossible become possible.
Thanks to BioCare, Dirty Dog Eyewear and the Edinburgh Bike Co-op Manchester for the support.