My road to Rio adventure started way back in February 2015 when I was shortlisted for interview for the role of Massage Therapist for Team GB at the Paralympic Games in Rio 18 months later. The process was a full day of group interviews with team interaction and presenting. I came away from this day knowing I had done my best and my Paralympic fate would be in the hands of the British Paralympic Association (BPA) selectors.
I was gutted to hear a few weeks later that I had been unsuccessful in my quest for Rio and two other Therapists had been selected above me. Disappointed, I carried on with the running of my private practices in the hope that I still may make the selection for Rio with British Cycling, who I have worked with as a contractor for the best part of 6 years.
Just over a year later I picked up an unexpected call from the Chef de Mission at the BPA. I was told that one of the Masseurs that had made the initial selection was pregnant and therefore unable to travel due to the Zika virus. It was explained that I was on the reserve list and I was asked whether I would be available to step in. This is why I truly believe in fate! At that moment I must have been the only person in the world that viewed this now well-known virus as a positive! This was my big chance to fulfil my professional dream as a Practitioner and work at a Major Games.
So now, as the nation reflects on our Olympic and Paralympic successes, I can sit back and reminisce on what was personally a fabulous Summer of Sport and Massage. I worked with the British Para-Cycling Squad at their pre-Games ‘holding camp’ in the UK and then travelled to Rio with the ParalympicsGB two weeks later.
I was based in the Paralympic Village for the duration. Every day I put on team kit and flip flops and made my way on the very short commute from the 17th floor to the 2nd floor of Block 5 where the ParalympicsGB team were based. I slept in the Village, ate in the food halls there and worked in the Performance Centre which was based in the Great Britain block. It’s fair to say that I was very much in the Paralympic ‘bubble’ where all I was really exposed to was the competing athletes, my medical colleagues and the booming GB medal tally.
I know I am extremely lucky to have this opportunity come my way and suspect I am the envy of many Massage Practitioners out there. I really do have the best job in the world and will savour every moment that came with the experience of working at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.