Written by Jim Roberts
Edited by Genevieve Gordon
The Return from Rio
“It has inspired me to try even harder for Tokyo 2020.”
I’ve returned from Rio with very mixed emotions. On the one hand what an incredible experience that I will never forget, but on the other hand I didn’t win a Paralympic medal.
Although the Olympic creed states: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well”.
We can definitely say that we fought well, but it’s in my nature to want to win. Anything less than winning will always feel like a disappointment.
Having said that I’m immensely proud of my teammates and our whole performance team. We really have taken huge leaps forward in the last 4 years. The tight games against Australia and Canada show just how competitive the top teams are in wheelchair rugby at the moment. That will be one of the biggest positives I will take away from Rio, the fact that our sport is in a stronger position now that it probably ever has been before.
Even though I didn’t achieve what I set out to I realise how incredibly rare a thing it is to become a Paralympian. The whole experience was a little overwhelming. I was repeatedly told how big it would be but the numbers didn’t do it justice. The numbers didn’t conjure up a realistic image in my mind. Teammates who’d been to a Paralympics before told me how big it would be but seeing really is believing.
ParalympicsGB took a large team to Rio. In fact we had a whole apartment block to ourselves. We were ready to compete from the moment we got there but the Wheelchair Rugby tournament was towards the end of the Paralympics, so having to wait around was almost excruciating. The atmosphere in ParalympicsGB House just kept building and building, more athletes moved in from their respective holding camps and when competition started the energy just went to another level.
ParalympicsGB were winning a lot of medals and that atmosphere was infectious, it made us want to compete and build on ParalympicsGB success even more, there was a real sense that we were part of the bigger team. We weren’t there to represent GB Wheelchair Rugby but GB as a whole.
What inspired me the most was the amount of support we were getting, messages from home and social media was incredible, I’ve never experienced anything like it, so a huge thank you to all those people who have supported us on this journey; it really has meant the absolute world to me.
On reflection it is hard not to think that I have let people down who have been supporting me all this way by not winning a medal. I know they’d tell me I haven’t, but I guess that’s just the way I’m wired to think. I will grapple with theses feelings and come out the other side proud to be a Paralympian but determined too.
#Rio2016 has inspired me to try even harder for Tokyo 2020.
So what’s next? Well a couple of weeks rest and recuperation, then I fly out to Phoenix to compete for the Phoenix Heat in the US League. I have been to Phoenix before and played for Phoenix Heat so am looking forward to reconnecting with friends that side of the pond but for today I am going to reminisce on what has truly been a fantastic journey and I look forward to the next phase so watch this space.