The travel over to Brazil was long my first stop was Nottingham to meet up with some of my team mates. We then travelled to Heathrow to meet up with the rest of the team and flew to Lisbon in Portugal to make a transfer onwards to Belo Horizonte. We travelled in Business class which allowed plenty of legroom and the ability to sleep in comfort as the flight was 10 hours, but total traveling time was 22 hours.

 

When we arrived in Belo we were given a Police escort to our final destination allowing our transport to pass through the traffic with ease and safety. The hotel was in a nice quiet location and had everything needed for a training camp especially having the lake only a few yards away. Unfortunately our first few days of training were very wet with heavy rain not seen in the UK as it appeared Brazil was experiencing floods. But it was still very warm and perfect training conditions despite the rain and the odd thunderstorm. Being on a training camp allows you to focus purely on training and nothing else which is great preparation. It’s also an opportunity to get use to sharing a small hotel with your team mate and staff 24/7. My training included a combination of water and gym depending what day it was. The purpose of the camp was to allow the athletes to get use to the climate, location, food and especially the travel from the UK to Brazil and the flight between Belo and Rio where the Paralympics will take place in September.

 

My overall training experience was perfect hitting all my targets that were set in the UK prior to the camp and more. Being able to experience everything before the Paralympics in September is essential like the weather either heavy rain or high temperatures the lake we will be training on and sharing a small location with your team mates 24/7. Without this sort of experience I don’t think you can fully concentrate on the task ahead with all the distractions around while traveling / training in Brazil.

 

After training in Belo for over two weeks the team travelled to Rio for the last couple of days before heading back home. Our visit to Rio was very informative taking advantage to look at Lagoa, the course where the canoeing will take place and getting familiar with the surroundings. Sitting at the venue taking everything in was breath taking having only seen photos before it’s hard to explain the beauty of the place surrounded by mountains including the Christ Redeemer looking over you. I cannot think of a more iconic location anywhere in the world to stage the Paralympic canoeing. Along with getting familiar with the surroundings we were also given the opportunity to visit the Christ Redeemer.

This was amazing what a view 700 meters on top of Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca forest National Park overlooking Rio and more importantly the course Lagoa. The hotel we stayed in while visiting Rio overlooked what must be one of the most iconic and famous beaches in the world Copacabana, and it did not disappoint at all. I don’t think I could ever get board of looking out of the window while having breakfast witnessing such an amazing view; I did have to pinch myself several times.

On our last day in Rio while sitting having lunch I heard a loud noise it was music. I looked out of the window to see thousands of people and in the distance an open top bus with loud music coming from it. This was the start of carnival season in Rio, you really would have to be in Rio to understand how many people covered to streets, it was breathtaking I was totally taken back amazing. The main carnival was happening on the following weekend and will be attended by a million people. This one I was witnessing was just a small local carnival started by what are known as blockers who basically block the road with thousands of people following music; you really would have to witness it yourself.

 

Powering down lane 5 during the 200m KL1 final

Getting my breath back as realization hits I am the new KL1 200m European champion