Well, it’s been a long time since I blogged. Korea was when you last heard from me and I had just completed a pretty intense block of training. Following Korea, my training remained just as intense and focused because the European Championships were just around the corner.
After I arrived home from Korea, I spent one week at home ensuring I recovered as well as possible from all the training. I took part in some light judo and CV sessions. At my main training base in Ratho, home of The JudoScotland National Training Centre, I was stabbed, by our Physiologist, with a few needles to test my blood and Creatine Kinase levels and my skin folds were tested to make sure my body composition was good in the lead up to the European Championships. I also met with my Doctor, Physiotherapist, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Physiologist and my Psychologist, to generally catch up with things and to confirm our plans for my next block of training. Phew! It didn’t feel too much like a recovery week but it was all necessary to make sure my body was not too fatigued. I passed all the tests (I think!). After a few days in my own home and bed (which was great), the Scottish contingent of the GB Team headed down south to the GB Performance Centre in Dartford for an eight-day training camp. This block of training would be our last camp before the European Championships and it was also designed to iron out any problems that we, as a team, feel may occur before London 2012, as this is where we will spend the two weeks prior to the Olympic Games (training and preparing). For me, the camp went well and I got out of it what I needed. Cadet, Junior and Senior players were all in attendance, making a feisty, good camp! The outline of the sessions were planned by the GB Coaches, but I then went away with my coach Billy and we tailored each one to suit my individual needs. I wrote down what I wanted to achieve in each session and how I was going to do it. I set goals and specific tasks to achieve. I wrote down what was good, what wasn’t so good and how I would improve for the next session. My big question to answer was ‘did I achieve my goal?’. These plans and goals made me focus on improving my performance and made each session useful to me. In and around all the judo, I walked as much as possible (to and from the hotel and dojo) and I completed a few static bike sessions up in the gym.
Five days later, after finalising our training in Edinburgh, we headed off to Chelyabinsk, Russia for The European Championships. Being five hours ahead of UK time, we arrived in Chelyabinsk three days before the first day of competition to give us a little time to get used to our surroundings, train a little and make last minute body weight checks. A nine o’ clock official weigh-in, followed by a noon start for the competition made the time difference that little bit easier to cope with. I competed on day one and the venue was great. I went in to this tournament, knowing that a strong performance (in and around the medals) would help convince the Performance Directorate that I was the strongest player for London 2012 Olympic selection at under 57kg. I woke up on competition day feeling physically good and mentally positive. My first three contests went well. I beat a Serbian in my first contest, then the 2011 European Champion from Austria and in my third contest I beat the under 20 & 23 junior European Champion from Turkey. This put me in the semi final against the 2010 World bronze medalist from Greece. I felt I was a little unlucky in this contest. However, the Greek girl was awarded the fight and I fought for bronze later in the day. I fought against a German girl, and I made a silly mistake at the beginning of the fight and lost the contest to finish in 5th place. I was awfully disappointed with my overall result, but in general, pleased with most parts of my performance during the day. I learned a lot about myself that day, especially psychologically. There were some great performances by other members of the GB Team, especially by Scotland’s Sally Conway, my Edinburgh club mate. Sally fought like a demon and eventually took 7th place. The experience of Karina Bryant shone through and she won a bronze medal, adding to her huge collection of European medals. Well done to everyone.
So here I am, almost three weeks post Europeans. I have attended squad training in Bath, where one of the most memorable parts of that weekend was sharing a YMCA dormitory with 11 other female members of the Olympic Squad. Some interesting conversations! You all know who you are! I have begun my new strength/CV/core sessions with the Scottish Institute S&C coach Allan MacDonald (car pushing at Ratho) and we are all now waiting, with baited breath, to see if we will be part of the London 2012 Olympic Team. Personally, I’d like to think that I performed well enough at The European Championships to put myself in pole position. But ultimately, it is not my decision. Selection for me will only be the key to the Olympic door. My aim is to walk through the door and to be successful. I want to prove to myself that I can do it. The team that I have around me has and will continue to support me in my quest for success. The road has not been easy. But the rewards have been fantastic. As I head in to the final ten weeks of preparation, I am as ready as I will ever be. Let’s hope I am on that plane to London.
My Dad often quoted some words to me and they have stuck with me throughout my career. He began “When things go wrong and they sometimes will……”. Dad only ever quoted part of the verse. The rest is below (I found it on the internet).
When things go wrong,
As they sometimes will,
When the road you are trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with it’s twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow-
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out-
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
European Championships Venue