#cardiffhalf

10am this morning I can hear cheering, the runners from the Cardiff Half Marathon are making their way up my road.  These are the first of 18,000 to make their way round the 13 mile course laid out for them on the streets of Cardiff.   It was like the Olympics had come again – Just this time I had a front seat.

I was tired just watching them, its lucky my house was just there, I was able to cook my breakfast and brew a trusty cup of tea to keep me going!  We tried desperately to cheer on everyone, but people just kept on coming.  After a while we had to make the executive decision to start cheering for those in costumes, I can’t remember how many gorrillas, Batmen, Robins, Spidermen, Bannanas, Kermit the Frogs etc etc I’ve seen this morning. Just so many, but for so many good causes. Well done to  all who ran! Amazing achievement!

#cardiffhalf

Race entries for 2013 have opened http://www.cardiffhalfmarathon.co.uk/

Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1

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Disabled or just differently abled?

Apologies for the long gap between this and my last post, life suddenly took over!  A bit out of date but I think still relevant.  An article I wrote for newspaper on whether the Paralympics will have any lasting impact on people’s perception of the disabled.  As always, feel free to comment!

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“I do not deny that Paralympians have shown us all what can be achievable in the face of extreme adversity.

I do not deny that they have the potential to become heroes and an inspiration to us all.  But as the glamour of the games quickly fades away, the long entrenched prejudices and perceptions of the disabled remain.  This cannot be altered in just eleven days – fact.

One could argue perhaps callously that by holding the games at all only serves to widen the gap between the abled and the disabled.  Why?  We do not see the accomplishments of these Paralympians in terms of just achievement.  A fact of course which does not hold true for the Olympic games.  We see these athletes as amazing because of their disability – ‘oh look what he did even though he’s in a wheelchair’.  In my mind this does not alter perceptions, it merely reinforces the idea that these athletes are disabled. In order to make true leaps towards altering perceptions we must see people in terms of ability not disability.  The Paralympics while of course emphasising achievement in the face of adversity inadvertently emphasises achievement because of adversity.

An unfortunate irony of the London 2012 Paralympics is that London itself is not truly accessible to the disabled.  Try being a wheelchair user and attempting to use the tube for example.  This of course is one of many more pressing concerns for disabled people.  To broadcast eleven days of Paralympic sporting achievement, whilst I hope proves to be an inspiration to many, puts the interest of an elite minority above the concerns of the majority.  11 days of sporting achievement does not change the reality for many disabled people.  The Paralympics does not articulate the emotional effects of disability in its more negative forms, nor does it articulate the real concerns of many disabled people facing day to day tasks.

Disabled people are facing the terrifying prospect of 20% government cuts, should the coalition push ahead with plans to abolish the Independent Living Fund in 2015.  With this in mind I find it hard to believe becoming a Paralympian is top of the agenda for many. And in that respect, no the Paralympics will not, in my opinion having any lasting impact on people’s perception and approach to the disabled.”

Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1

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Olympics vs Paralympics

Last week I was lucky enough to head over to the Olympic Park.  It was an amazing day and an amazing experience.  I have to say it really refuelled my excitement for London 2012 – Patriotism took hold once again with ferocious cheering for team GB.

Photosynth pan of basketball arena

Olympic Park

Trafalgar Square

The park is incredible and six times the size I had assumed it to be.  I have to admit it was quite the walk between venues.  I saw goal ball in the copper box followed by wheelchair basketball at the (what looks to be inflatable) basketball arena.  Both sports I found to be an inspiration – the basketball, well quite frankly it was terrifying!

Later on in the day having headed Trafalgar square-ward I sat watching the big screen (although it’s supposed to be summer, I would advise a thick coat at the very least).  An explanation of how different disabilities are ‘graded’ in events hit the screen, showing how events are grouped and how according to disability, more points or time concessions are awarded.  So forgive me, if the Paralympics is graded according to ability why then doesn’t everyone compete in the same games?

Ellie Simmonds wins Gold

Of course there is the argument that the media would automatically gravitate towards the likes of Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis leaving those less able-bodied in the lurch.  Yet may I point out that in Beijing, team GB came second in the Paralympics yet 4th in the Olympics.  Is it then not true to say that these Paralympians would so too act as media magnets just as any able bodied Olympian?  The likes of Ellie Simmonds and David Weir spring to mind …

If this ‘grading’ system separates Paralympic athletes then why not have a 4 week games that includes people of all ability levels?  Why is the separation from ‘mainstream’ athletes necessary? Everyone would then contribute to the same medal table, competing for the same team.

At the end of the day I’m cheering for team GB – why that has to be team GB in two separate tournaments I am bemused by.  Olympian or Paralympian – they are both an inspiration, and both could thrash me!

Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1   

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#GOLDRUSH!

I will apologise in advance for my innumerable Olympics posts at the moment.  Like I have said previously, me the non-sports fan, in fact I would go so far as to say, as a rule of thumb, the sport hater (arguing non-stop about the immorality of footballers vast pay etc etc),  have become glued to the television, waiting eagerly for the next Team GB event.  I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, biting my nails down to the quick – This is what I have become!

Jess Ennis Gold Medal

But apology over, back to the Olympics …

The defining moment for me in Britain’s gold rush was seeing  Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in ruins having come second in the men’s lightweight double skulls.  What?! If that were me I would be jumping for joy, I’d be second best in the world at something  – especially when you consider Zac’s seat broke and the race had to be restarted.  I certainly wouldn’t have gone for it in fear of some horrific injury.  But nonetheless they were in pieces apologising for letting people down, which was certainly not the case.  These men showed their passion and desire and not least showed themselves to be true members of team GB.

Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter inconsolable having come second

If only I had that kind of passion for my history degree, it would make me the next David Starkey (or any other discreetly famous historian)!

These people are incredible; they have a passion for something and go for it.  It’s that single focus that makes them an inspiration.  Watching the reactions really sums it all up.  Jessica Ennis in tears receiving her gold medal, the mens heavy weight fours smiling uncontrollably, the ladies cycling team euphoric, Greg Rutherford flag clad, the rowing girls unable to speak and Mo Farrah doing the ‘Mo’.  That’s what it is all about for me; these are people achieving their life aim, what they have worked so hard for.

On the other hand, to see Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in pieces having come second and Rebbecca Adlington so disappointed with her 3rd place medal was nothing less than human.  This is a reality we are all going to have to face at some point during our lives; it’s just seems more extreme in sport.

Go Mo!

We are all going have gold moments.  But with gold inevitably comes silver or bronze or less.  That doesn’t mean stop trying, if anything those bronze, silver and medal-less moments are those from which you learn the most.  It is those instants that create the gold moments, which of course are the building blocks for success.   I will certainly be taking inspiration from these athletes.  I am no sports woman, I can assure you my passion in life is not going to become the 10,000m or rowing anytime soon!  However I am going to keep trying in what I am good at, find my passion and win my gold!

Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1

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“You Heard Me Bike, It’s Game On!”

A cold rainy day in London, not ideal for a three and a half hour cycle ride; nonetheless the ladies powered, or rather power-cycled through.  And Lizzie Armitstead came away with Britain’s first Olympic medal of London 2012 – and I have to say it may have inspired me to get on my bike (perhaps when its not pouring with rain though).

Lizzie Armitstead wins silver for Team GB

Watching it, it’s scary how close the cyclists get to each other.  And when you think it could all be over if they touch, you realise the amount of concentration and fearlessness of these cyclists.  Impressive stuff!  Now  I am most certainly not usually a sports fan, but even I can appreciate the amount of drive required to win (in case you couldn’t tell I think I’m getting excited).   Especially when you consider how absolutely exhausted you would be, having cycled tens of kilometres.

Now I’m not very sporty, so while in my mind having been inspired by today’s cycling, I am the next Olympic cycling champion, I know that that is probably not going to be the reality.  Especially when you consider that these athletes train practically every day, all day.  So don’t expect to see me competing internationally in the velodrome or as the front runner at the Tour de France anytime soon!

Just in the post because I love these little vintage shopper bikes – makes me think I’ve stepped back in time

Regardless, I remain inspired.  The bike is being wheeled out again (excuse the pun)fFor regular riding (which would of course tone the thighs – my biggest nemesis).  I have also been toying with the idea of a charity fundraising cycle ride.  I read about it months ago and thought to myself ‘that sounds cool’, never did anything about it, but after today I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to the idea.  The genesis Research Trust organises cycling trips all around the world and you can now register for Cycle Sri Lanka 2013.  I am definitely keen! It’ll be my very own Tour de France – An adventure and for a good cause. It’s being added to my bucket list!

Cycling for a good cause

http://www.genesisresearchtrust.com/events/cycle-srilanka

http://www.genesisresearchtrust.com/events

Right – game on! I’m now off to wipe the cobwebs off the bike …

Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1

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Olympics Hype, You’ve Got Me (Unconventionally)

Me, a non-sports fan, have suddenly found myself swept up in the London 2012 hype.  Why?  Well my feelings towards it prior to yesterday were fairly nonchalant: I didn’t really see why people were excited but equally didn’t understand the people moaning.  But yesterday I travelled to London for the launch party of the online TV channel I’ve been working on, it just so happened that the launch was at Marble Arch.  As I approached said location the torch was apparently going to be ‘travelling’ through there.  And for me it was not so much the seeing of the torch that got me thinking.  In fact I didn’t manage to catch a glimpse!  It was more the atmosphere, everyone around me was excited and talking about the games.  You couldn’t move for the people around you and I realised that this was something bringing everyone together.

London 2012 Tower Bridge

As I said I’m not in it for the sport. I’m not particularly riveted by the fact that Usain Bolt may run the 100 metres in 9 seconds (if I blink I might miss it), nor am excited by the thought of watching people on bikes cycle round really fast in circular dome.  But that aside while I don’t enjoy the sport itself, I do enjoy watching an athlete’s reaction upon winning and achieving their goal.  It’s not the physical feat that I get excited about, I’m not interested in the world records or medals themselves, but watching someone achieving what they have worked so hard for.  (And I don’t like to admit it) That is one of the things I do find inspiring about sport.

Some things will be unmissable.  I’m excited to see Oscar Pistorius run for the South African team.  He of course has been nicknamed the fastest man on no legs.  This is a man that has overcome massive adversity to fulfil his dreams.  I for one hope he wins!

And of course the other thing I’m excited about is the opening ceremony.  I felt the atmosphere in London yesterday and know that it will continue to be incredible.  I just want to see what London can do!

Oscar Pistorious aka Fastest Man on No Legs

Maybe this time Boris Johnson will succeed in waving the British flag properly: well we can always hope …

 Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1 

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Arm Chair Football Punditry – ‘If they’d have followed our advice, they’d be winning 8 nil by now!’

I will start this post with an explanation as why I have been away for so long.  My university exam season took hold, the time of year when I lock myself away, see no one and become an obsessed maniacal revision fiend.  However I am now finished, out of hiding and ready to pass my opinions.

Now for my return post – my victim is Euro 2012 – a four yearly footballing championship.  A championship that the fans among us will become convinced England have a chance at the title.  The media – television, radio, newspapers, special Euro 2012 features etc etc will all fuel this dream.  Why? Because England won the world cup in 1966!  In the commentary from Ukraine vs England, England qualify for the quarter finals and are ‘unbeaten and unbreakable.’  A fairly OTT assessment of a 1-1 draw with France, a fairly sketchy 3-2 win against Sweden and a slightly improved 1-0 against Ukraine.  But perhaps I’m just being negative.

The armchair football expert

Now I will not lie, I will enjoy Euro 2012 as much as I can.  I will hope England will do well.  I might even get excited (to an extent).  But I will not climb on the ‘rampant optimism’ band wagon.  Rather than get overly excited and eventually sinking into a state of depression when England manage to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory, I prefer to watch and observe the behaviour of menfolk.  Now this may be a sweeping generalisation but my male counterparts seem to, now that Euro 2012 is upon us, have become footballing experts – all believing themselves to be the next England manager.  In fact, they appear to believe themselves to be better than the current manager himself.  Although don’t get your hopes up boys, you won’t see ‘England manager’ pop up on the guardian jobs website any time soon.

Exhibit A – the brother.  Normally a minor football follower, supporter of Liverpool FC but only to support someone, prefers cricket.  However now Euro 2012 has come round, this minor football fan has become something of a football pundit – in his mind at least.  Comments during England vs. Ukraine have included ‘if we are to persist with route one football, we need someone who is good in the air – bring on Andy Carroll’ and ‘he’s never going to beat Hart from that range’.  What?  Now when I last checked my younger brother was NOT a football pundit, commentator, expert etc.  However he seems to have assumed this role since the beginning of this tournament.   I can only conclude he will get worse if England are to progress past the group stage.

Euro 2012

This does however lead me onto my next rant!  Why do football fans (or any other sports fans for that matter) insist on using the term ‘we’ – ‘we’re going to score’, ‘Looks like we’re going to cash in here’,  ‘we are looking poor up front’ etc.   May I point out that just because one chooses to wear an England shirt, does NOT mean you are on the team.  WE ARE English but WE ARE NOT England!  But that rant over, I shall move on to exhibit B.

The father.  Now this man becoming an expert is even more ridiculous than the brother.  This is a man who, as rule despises club football, claiming it to be boring.  This is also a man who has been known on several occasions to fall asleep, chin on chest, during England internationals.  Therefore for this man to suddenly don the crown of ‘football extraordinaire’ during big championships is absurd.  Yet without knowledge, or much genuine interest in the sport, the commentary emanating from his prime seat on the sofa is interesting to say the least.  Remarks have included ‘all of my comments have been erudite and well informed’, ‘terrible goalkeeping’ and ‘even I would have headed in Rooney’s first chance’.  A true football pundit?  The new England manager perhaps?  Well if you can be an expert after watching one match, sitting on the sofa, I suppose anything is possible.

Rooney euro 2012

And finally the worst culprit – the boyfriend.  I will give him credit though where credit is due, he does know a lot about football and sport in general.  An avid follower of Newcastle United, with knowledge of every football player, championship and result – however even with his knowledge, he still is not England manager.  I think he forgets that playing football manager on his laptop and FIFA on playstation does not constitute work experience.  This armchair England manager is worst of all, with the constant spouting of statistics.

I hope England win, I really do, but if not, at least I’ve been entertained not necessarily by the football, but by my armchair football pundits!

 Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1

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