Guest post from Bethy Woodward who’s competing in this year’s Commonwealth Games.
As I’m about to compete for the England squad in my second Commonwealth Games I think about how far I’ve come, but also how far para-sport has come.
This year’s Commonwealth Games will have the biggest para-sport programme in the history of the Games, and we’re integrated in with all of the other sporting disciplines too. I don’t like to think of us as disabled or able bodied, I just like to think of us all as athletes.
Because of my Cerebral Palsy, it’s like breaking through a brick wall when I race. You have to keep saying to yourself “Come on, push it! You’re going to do it” It’s like the Cerebral Palsy parts of you are lazy and you have to motivate them to do it. But it’s when I do that, then my body listens to me, and I can achieve amazing things.
I’ve always pushed myself from a young age. I loved being outside and being active, rushing around, abseiling off cliffs! I did struggle a bit to find an athletics club that would be willing to coach me, but there was one coach who showed an interest and encouraged me. With his support I started getting into competing, and I’ve loved it ever since.
It’s strange because there’s a sort of calmness that comes over me when I get onto the track, at the Athletics World Championships last year I got a silver medal in the T37 200m, and I also ran a personal best. I was concentrating so hard on the race that I didn’t even realise I’d won a medal till I looked up at the board!
The 2012 Paralympic Games were like nothing else, and it had always been an ambition to compete in our home Games. The fact that I went home with a bronze and silver medal was the icing on the cake! The crowd were completely magical, and their support meant so much to me.
In the Commonwealth Games I’m actually going to be competing in the long jump F37/F38, which is something different for me. It’s so great though to always be pushing yourself to try new things. A lot of people allow their disability to rule them but I like to think I can rule my disability.
The training can be around-the-clock, but I think that really makes me appreciate the time off I get to spend with my friends and family, and especially getting to just hang out at home with my two dogs.
I guess there are always more goals I’d like to achieve, another competition coming up, another personal best to beat; I don’t think I’ll ever stop striving to achieve more.
What would I like to do next? Well a trip to Rio in 2016 would be nice!