Early in 2016 I flew with the rest of the GB Paracanoe Team from London Heathrow, to Belo Horizonte in Brazil, the city chosen as Team GBs training base for the 2016 Paralymic games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in September. The purpose of the trip was to allow the team to get used to the climate, location, food and especially the travel from the UK to Brazil and the flight transfer between Belo Horizonte and Rio itself.
The journey to Brazil was long………travelling via Lisbon for a connecting flight to Belo Horizonte. Although we were lucky enough to be seated in Business Class, allowing plenty of leg room and the ability to sleep in comfort – 22 hours travelling time took its toll.
On arrival in Belo Horizonte we were given a police escort to our final destination allowing safe and easy passage through the traffic. Our hotel was in a nice quiet location and had everything needed for a training camp with a lake only a few yards away. Despite some torrential rain, the weather was warm and training conditions generally good. My training included a combination of workouts both on water and in the gym; my overall training experience was perfect, achieving all my targets that were set in the UK prior to the camp and more. Staying on a training camp is great preparation as it allows you to focus purely on training and nothing else. It’s also an opportunity to get used to sharing a small hotel with your team mates and staff 24/7. Without this sort of experience it would be impossible to fully concentrate on the real task ahead.
After training in Belo Horizonte for over two weeks, the team travelled to Rio for the last couple of days. Our hotel overlooked what must be one of the most famous beaches in the world: Copacabana, and it did not disappoint. I could never tire of looking out of the window whilst having breakfast witnessing such an amazing view; I did have to pinch myself several times.
We took the opportunity to visit Lagoa, and the course where the canoeing will take place, to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings. Sitting at the location 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 statue looking over you. I cannot think of a more iconic location anywhere in the world to stage the Paralympic canoeing.
Check back here soon to read the next chapter in my journey to the Rio Paralympics.