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Wessex has been gripped by the Paralympics this year, given that we had our brand ambassador, Sophie Carigill competing in the Women's Wheelchair Basketball team, and Paracanoeist Ian Marsden whom we've sponsored for over 7 years.
We were recently able to catch up with Ian to see what happened at the games. I asked him if, after so many years of competing in multiple sporting disciplines, he still gets nervous before Paralympic races;
Going to the games is always a privilege but this time because you're competing against fewer athletes, it makes you a little more nervous as there's more expectation to do well. On top of that, in Rio, when it was a debut event, everyone's in the same position from each country; it's the first time for everyone and you just see what happens. But with it being more established now, there's an expectation to do well.
With Sophie's Wheelchair Basketball event spanning almost the entire competition, it was a lot easier to keep up with each win and loss the team suffered from here, in the office. Ian's event, however, only lasted for one weekend! As such, it was harder to keep up with it from here, especially given the time difference. BritishCanoeing's Twitter updates were vital in keeping up with what was happening. Ian caught us up with details about his stay;
After the holding camp, we left for the village and it was straight into some training. Then from the training you get into the heats first. From there you hope to get into the semi-finals and then, hopefully, get into the final.
Unlike World Championships and previous games, only the first boat in the heat goes through to the final, and the rest to the semi-final. Normally, three boats or so go straight through. Also, in the World Championships and Europeans you have nine lanes, whereas at the Paralympics you have eight lanes, so having one person less again intensifies the competition even more!
The heats are honestly more of a great opportunity to practice against your fellow competitors before heading into the semi-final. It's the semi-finals that become really important due to the fact obviously if you're not in a certain position you'll be out.
I came, I think it was, fourth place in the heats, third place in the semi-final, and then I went through to the final and unfortunately came eighth in that. It was an incredibly close final though, and we were all 52 point something on the line. It's like in the Tour De France, where you see them all sprint to the finish, and although you may have come in 30th place you'll have a near identical time to the winner, because of how close it is!
Ian also told me about what the atmosphere at the village was like...
There was a lot less mixing with other nations which would normally be allowed, but within our GB house, the atmosphere was still great! In the downstairs area there's like a reception kind of area with big TV screens and different rooms and stuff, so people would sit in there and check out what sports were currently on 24/7 really. Still, a great atmosphere!
I asked Ian if he was happy to have touched back down in the UK after a long time away and if he'd been training again or had a chance to rest, only to find out that he was currently on the way to the airport to fly to Copenhagen before the World Championships, starting next week! He let me know that it was a tight schedule...
I'm at the airport currently flying off to Copenhagen for the World Championships which start next week! I got back at like 3am Monday, did some training on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings. Then Saturday and Sunday I've not trained, and I'm of course travelling today.
We'll see what happens at the worlds; normally we'd have a little more downtime between Paralympics and Worlds so it's not ideal having it this close together for a lot of reasons. Apart from racing I've not really done a proper training session since the holding camp in August! Even though I've been racing lots it's not really the same as training as they're short races, so not strength training or anything specific. Hard to say what will happen!
It's a shock to the system when you factor in jet lag, and how in the village we're pretty taken care of (food being provided, etc.), but I'm home now and it's straight back to the school run, for example, before coming to the airport this morning to go to Copenhagen, even!
All of us at Wessex with Ian the best of luck in the World Championships!