Choice v sacrifice – gold medal mindset

Today I’ve pondered the notion of selecting to label an action a Choice versus sacrifice.

As the Qld swimming state championships started, I was shopping 🛍 nearby as a retired athlete. I completed every year since I was five  to a shy teen in a pink wheelchair – winning my first ever medal 🏅 for swimming. From school student on an ambulance stretcher to university student 👩‍🎓 fresh out of exams, I turned up and put all my heart into it.

Today, as a retired athlete at Carindale shopping centre eating lunch and doing Christmas shopping, I saw swimmers stroll in for lunch as I had and pondered the decisions of my youth like not going to schoolies, only putting up the Christmas 🎄 tree a few days before Xmas, rushing to buy gifts 🎁 or missing Xmas parties and realised what other people thought of as sacrifices were actually decisions that led to me achieving my Sporting Dreams.

I never saw them are sacrifices; just the steps I needed to take on my way to my Paralympic dream. You see, the champs are held each year a week before Christmas 🎄 so Santa and presents weren’t even on my radar till after state champs when I retired in my mid 30s.

I was still eating healthy, training hard with my eye the prize. Today I saw many athletes choosing the healthy option at the food court before they went back to race the final. A good swim time at state championships will gain selection for the national championships.

Once every four years that’s selection to the national championships which gave you the opportunity to compete at a Paralympic Games or Olympics for Australia. With my focus on the state championships, I chose not to go to schoolies week at the end of year 12.

I went straight from our school clap out ceremony to the swimming 🏊🏻‍♀️ pool for training holding my report card. The only difference was I was wearing a Santa hat and there was a media crew waiting for me.

In the late 1990s, when I needed to secure qualifying times for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games trials, I even attended on an ambulance stretcher tied in the back of my grandparents’ plants hire van (like many people with a spinal-cord injury I developed a pressure sore which meant I wasn’t allowed to sit on my butt – I had to lay down and keep pressure off it which we worked out I could do on a stretcher and in the water where there was no pressure).

By 2004 I was finally winning in the adult open division and ranked in the top two in the world. It seemed a familiar formality, part of the process of heading to nationals. I knew where to park, how not to get lost on the way to the pool (believe me in the day before Google maps with my terrible map reading ability, this was medal-worthy) and the whole building and routine was my “home” comfort zone to perform. But it was all those choices I’ve made in my childhood which meant the state championships leading into my major Paralympic campaigns felt like a routine because I had done them enough.

Practice makes permanent not perfect. Getting good at making choices which helped me feel comfortable performing at my peak what is the first step. Tomorrow I have been invited back to by old stomping ground to receive an award – my swimmer number – and it is nostalgic and exciting to see the many familiar faces and places which I chose to create as pivotal to my Paralympics dreams.

Ok, I’m still a recovering swimmer 🏊‍♂️ and ate healthy lunch 🥗 but buzzing to be back and enjoy 😊 another unexpected gift 💝 from Swimming Australia as a result of all those “sacrifices”.

What are you going to choose to do to take action towards your #unstoppabledteams for 2020?

Good luck to all the athletes competing at the Swimming Queensland @Ronald Mcdonald State Championships at the Sleeman Aquatic Centre. I will be cheering you on.

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