Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Commonwealth Games- an amazing experience!

It’s a bit of an anticlimax being back studying after the most amazing 3 week experience; one which I will never forget…

The whole experience started back in July when the athletics team was announced. My year up to that point had been mixed. My indoor season took a while to get going, but ended with a big indoor PB in Birmingham, which gave me great confidence for the outdoor season. My outdoor season then proved inconsistent due to a back injury, however I still managed to improve my PB on 3 occasions and my confidence going out to Delhi was high.

Portugal was fantastic. The food, accommodation, training facilities and area were super and the week was brilliant. It was great to have Dan out in Portugal to help with my training and Niamh, the physio was fantastic help. Half way through the week I did a 400m time trial, which went very well and made me confident I was ready to run faster than I ever have before in Delhi. However after this run I felt severe pain down my right side, which I managed to put to the back of my mind as much as possible. The week ended on a high with a team meal in Villa Moira and team spirits were high going out to Delhi….

After a lot of hassle with getting our ‘slightly’ oversized bags onto the plane to London without being charged excess baggage (N.B. Giving gifts to the check in staff always help this matter….on this occasion Jackie sacrificed a Team NI T Shirt!) we were on our way. After arriving in London, we faced another problem in transferring the pole vault poles to Heathrow from Gatwick. Luckily we all made it just in time to catch the flight to Delhi, and 8 hours later were landed.

We were all a little apprehensive about what the village would be like, as the press hadn’t been so kind, however when we arrived we all stopped worrying. Bar nothing a few dettol wipes couldn’t sort out…everything was grand! We had a comfortable apartment, not far from the 24 hour food hall which we were to spend much of our time!

I had just over 5 days until the first round of the 400m and felt I could manage my injury with copious amounts of pain killers and physio sessions.

The 400m heats were in the evening, so after a couple of trips to the food hall we were ready to head to the stadium. I was in heat 3, and although the line up looked difficult, qualifying for the semis didn’t look impossible. The call room process wasn’t the best, but we all had to endure the same….we were then taken onto the track and told to sit in the middle of a bug cloud for about 20 minutes before the race started. It was an unbelievable atmosphere out in the stadium and I was excited about racing.

On your marks, get set, go! I was in lane 2 and completely stumbled out of my blocks. Third step into my race I felt a sharp pain shoot down from my back to ankle. I slowed the pace for a few metres, hoping it would go away however this wasn’t the case. I decided to keep running and tried to pick the pace up towards the end, but the pain was unbearable. All this training, all the hard work to be dealt a blow all due to a poorly executed start. I was devastated, more because I knew I was in great shape and had high expectations of myself going into the event.

The relay was the following Monday, and I was determined to run! After much rest, I convinced everyone I was ‘healthy’ enough to run…but the order was changed so I would run last and not have to do another rubbish start! It was great fun, and although we failed to meet our target of either breaking the NI record, or reaching the final we all left the track determined to come back in Glasgow 2014 and cause some trouble. It was a great experience, and with the team so young, I’m convinced the future will hold great things!

Memories from Delhi are never ending….Amy getting fed ketchup nut birthday cake on arrival at the airport, Pool Champ Kelly and her mad obsession with collecting pins, Jo Mills and her super ability to stay protected from mozzies and her cool banana case, Katie and her ‘love’ of all bugs big and small, Ciara and her toad handling skills, Teen and her amazing flexibility, Tom and Camilla, Jackie and her ability to sprain her ankle while not doing anything, and Davy and his love for all things Indian (food, mozzies etc).
Almost a month since we returned from Delhi, and life is getting back to normal. I have just started winter training, which so far has involved a lot of rehab work and not a great deal of running…but that will come soon!! Being part of Team NI was an incredible experience and one which I will cherish forever. The whole team were amazing, and I know with all the youth and raw talent, things can only go up in the future…Bring on athletics in 2011!!

Jo Patterson

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