Kelda writes..He (or she) who looks backwards, stumbles when moving forwards….

Kelda writes  He (or she) who looks backwards, stumbles when moving forwards….

The last 2 weeks have been, what can only be called a roller coaster!

I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to write in this blog… times I’ve wanted to shout, rant and blame, at times I’ve wanted to moan about how unfair life is, at times I’ve wanted to say how strong I feel….and at times I’ve wanted to say how bloomin’ weak I feel!

So I’m going to say none of them!!!! Because the last 2 weeks have just been part of the journey….. I’ve learnt about myself and I’ve learnt about other people. Two weeks ago I completed in the selection regatta for the 2016 World Championships I paddled 2 strong races, it wasn’t an outstanding performance, but I was happy with the improvement it showed. Having just missed out on the time that guaranteed selection, I hoped iit showed enough potential for them to still select me for the World Championships, and keep me in the game for Rio.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. On the Monday morning I received a phone call that told me I hadn’t been selected. I was devastated. Not only did I feel that I’d done enough to deserve to be selected, but this meant my paralympic dream was over. It also meant they were leaving the squad without a reserve boat for Rio in my category, which I just couldn’t understand. The whole thing felt wrong.

So I decided to appeal.

To cut a very long story short, the appeal went to an arbitral panel and the decision was thankfully over turned. In 3 weeks time I’m now off to the World Championships in Duisburg, and most importantly, I’m still in with a shot at Rio!

There’s a lot I could say….but I’m choosing not to. Because what’s important now is looking forwards. I’ve been given an opportunity and I intend to grab it with both hands and give it my very, very best!

Last week I was guest speaker at the Shropshire Partners in Care Awards, and I had to really question just what I was going to say to everyone….or if I could even get up and speak at all! I was really questioning how much I believed the values that I’ve always stood by. Could I really stand up and inspire others, if I didn’t believe what I was saying myself! But in reflecting about what and how I would speak, I really learned something very important.

We become so focused on the outcome, but things so often happen that are out of our control…so it really is about being the best person you can be, whether that be in a training session, in how we behave, or how we treat others. This has taught me something amazing….that actually my journey is about being the best person I can be, and being happy with myself, and not just about that Gold medal!

The magic of the last 2 weeks has been the incredible support I’ve received from some amazing friends. It has meant so much to me to feel the love and support of so many people. I’ve learnt that in time, I’ll look back on this whole chapter and realise that, no matter what the outcome, the truly special thing about it all is how I’ve learnt to value and appreciate myself and the amazing people around me. It is not a gold medal that will define me, but how I choose to live my life.

And right now, I’m choosing to appreciate every day, every training sessions and every part of this whole journey. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to attack every day with grit and determination, but as long as I give my very best, I’m going to hold my head up high, be proud and learn to be happy with myself.

If I’m going to define myself as a paracanoeist – and maybe even as a person – based on whether I’ve paddled in the Paralympics or won gold medals, I’ve realised I’m devaluing myself. And as for anyone else who judges me on that? I probably don’t need to worry about their opinion that much anyway! Instead, I’m going to focus on enjoying myself, appreciating the people around me and pushing myself to be better, in and out of a boat.

That is what I want to define me.


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