Jodie Stimpson: Getting ready to rumble…

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I’ve been practically living at the Dillon/Hayes household in Loughborough the past week or so – and getting in some hard core “balls in the wheelie bin” sessions.

I’ve loved training up here alongside Michelle [Dillon] and Stuart [Hayes]. They both drive me to achieve the best, which at the minute is great preparation for the up and coming World Championships in Australia.

Trying to chase Stuart on the track with Michelle shouting on the sidelines today equalled – yet another great “balls in the wheelie bin session”

In fact I don’t think my balls have been out of the wheelie bin for a while!!! lol

I’m flying out to Australia on the 30th August and my race is on 12th September.

I’ve only got a few days until my flight – which is a long bloody 24hour flight!! However, to be fair when I did it last time it wasn’t too bad. Can you really complain about eating, sleeping and watching films for 24 hours?

Once I get to the Gold Coast I’ll link up ‘TEAM GB’. We are all staying in apartments together and will then move to the race hotel on the 9th September which is closer to the race venue.

I’m really excited about the race now, the hard work is done and it’s now time for the good bit. . . the RACE!

My next blog will be after the race where I will hopefully will be bringing you good news.

“Wish me luck”

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David Wigley: Desperate to play

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I’ve had a frustrating last week! I was ‘rested’ as part of our ‘rotation’ system for the County Championship match against Derbyshire, at Chesterfield. It was frustrating, not only because I had to spend the entire four days filling up water-bottles with different players’ requests and being a general ‘go-fer’, but also because I had to watch a match dominated by seam bowling on a wicket that I would have loved to roll up and take home with me!

However, once my sulking had subsided, I was able to watch the team chalk up another impressive win, although closer than we would have hoped! It put us in a very strong position going into the final 5 games, and promotion in 2nd place is a distinct possibility.

I write this on the eve of our next match which is at home against Glamorgan. I’ve not been so keen for a match in a long while. I am again in the squad of 12 and I have been given the nod to play by the Captain. However, when I wasn’t in the last team, I am never totally sure I’m playing in the next until my name gets placed on the official slip and the coach has signed it off!

I hate not knowing if I am playing or not. It sounds silly, but I often don’t sleep very well, with all the various team possibilities spinning round in my head and what my arguments for discussion might be if I’m not selected. People tell me not to worry about it, but it’s not that easy. It’s not so much worry; more the fact I just like to know what I’m doing the next morning! I like to prepare mentally, as well as physically. I guess it boils down to the fact I like to relax, that is probably my mental preparation. Even when selected, I am a lot more settled once I know how the toss has panned out for us. The 2nd day onwards I am a lot better and can just relax!

After the disappointment of being left out at Chesterfield, all negative emotions were thrown out of the window on Sunday when I watched the national team win back the Ashes!

At 27-years-old, I have played against many of the England squad in seasons past. I enjoyed congratulating Monty on his contribution when I saw him at training this morning, but mostly I enjoyed watching Graeme Swann take the final wicket.

It was such a great moment, and one completely different to 2005. Apart from anything else, the whole team were out on the field together and had to win the match to win the Ashes. In 2005, the team took the field together in the final session, having already won the series, and simply had to complete the formalities in what was a certain draw for the last 2 hours of the game. There was Kevin Pieterson’s very special century, but there was no huge climax which saw 11 playing swamping each other.

Also, the 2005 team was very much a tale of the walking wounded with Flintoff, (who was lucky enough to make a comeback), Ashley Giles, Simon Jones and Michael Vaughan (who are all either retired, or were never quite the same), all collapsing physically after an extremely demanding series.

This team, Flintoff aside, are young and fresh. They have still a lot of progress to make individually, but they will take so much confidence from this series win. Andrew Strauss is lucky to be able to take this team on and work with them. The 2005 Ashes was a product of several years’ hard work, and finished the story off nicely. The 2009 Ashes, you feel, is just the start.

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Will Sharman: Who knows what’s next?

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What an incredible couple of days, here I am at the World Championships in Berlin I’ve been given the chance to compete against the best in the world, my idols, and I’ve finished fourth in the final, fourth in the world!

A month ago I didn’t even think I would get the chance to race but I proved myself to the selection committee with a personal best just in the nick of time, and the rest as they say is history.

In any other race so far in my career I would have considered myself unlucky to have finished in fourth place, just missing out on the medals, but this is the World Championships and my first real chance on the big stage so just to be in contention with the quality of opposition on show is a big thing for me.

The actual race was a bit of a blur, I know I didn’t run the best technical race, I stumbled near the start and I clipped some of the hurdles but not enough to knock them down. The gun went and the adrenaline had really kicked in, towards the end of the race I couldn’t even see the hurdles, I just ran.

A reporter told me afterwards that my time had put me fifth on the all time British list, which is just such an amazing accomplishment, to be honest I had no idea until he pointed it out but it’s just another bonus on such an amazing night.

After the race people kept asking me what’s next, as I see it I’m only 24 now so by the time the 2012 Olympics in London come around I should be in my prime so I’ll be pushing for the gold medal.

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Jodie Stimpson: Leading up to “What a Race”

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The week leading up to World Champ Series race at Hyde Park has been great. I’ve spent most of it living up at Loughborough with my coach Michelle [Dillon] and training alongside Stuart [Hayes].

Every time I step out on to the running track or out on the road on the bike with Stuart and Michelle, the feeling I get never changes – “oh my god look who I’m training with!”

I had some really ‘Balls in the wheelie bin’ sessions whilst I was up there and got some great training in – and also ate some awesome Michelle ‘special salads’ lol. You just can’t beat a good chicken Cesar – ay Mish? lol

The journey to London didn’t get off to the best start with me and my training buddy Rebecca Milnes getting on the wrong train!!! Everyone who knows me, knows that I have no sense of direction but we managed to see the funny side and was able to change trains to get on the right one – and luckily avoided ending up in Glasgow or something

Once we finally got to London, I checked in and went down to the race briefing with Stuart. I felt surprisingly relaxed and just excited to race during the briefing and just took it all in.

Then I was back to my hotel and had dinner with Bex and an early night watching T.V in our room.

The day before the race me and Stuart got up early to miss the busy London city rush and went around the bike course with Tim [Don], Liz [Blatchford] and Hollie [Avil], we couldn’t go around the swim course until 7pm, so I really spent the rest of my day off my feet and relaxing.

When we went down to the swim that evening, I have got to admit the nerves came thick and fast and I suddenly had an injection of nerves – but they soon settled when me and Bex dived in the water for a swim around the course.

Race Day. . . . .

I got up race morning and went for a jog around Hyde Park with Michelle and whatever nerves I had – Michelle soon pulled them out of me. She is very good at the good old pre race talk and before the end of the jog; I was defiantly ready to rumble.

As soon as I got to Hyde Park my mum and dad were there to greet me with smiles on their faces – even though they had been up since 4.45AM to get the train to watch me race! They make it to every race possible and without my support crew I wouldn’t be able to do what I love.

I was number 61, out of 61 women so I was last to be called onto the pontoon, so I didn’t get to choose where to start on the pontoon. But I had a good start in the middle of the field.
I didn’t have a fantastic swim, not for any reason I can put my finger on, I just didn’t grip the water like I had been doing in training, which resulted in me being over a minute down out the water. It’s definitely not where I should be – but I didn’t think about it and just went straight into concentrating on getting to that lead pack.

It did seem to take ages to get there and I found it really hard to bridge the gap, however when I finally got there – just before the end of the 7th lap – I sat in and tried to get my legs back and get ready for the run.

I’ve got to admit I felt relieved when I finally got to the bike pack and knew I could run well of the bike and I took it out the only way I knew. . . . HARD!! It felt great in front of a home crowd on every piece of the run people were shouting and I felt so strong – and it felt even better running at the front, leading the race next to Helen, two GB athletes leading the race!

I was running strong and feeling great until 7k and I just seemed to hit a wall. Helen showed how powerful she is and picked up the pace, I think I needed a Powerbar gel at this point and I seem to lack the top end I knew I can hold. But I’m pleased with how I raced and have learned a lot in this race and now I’m looking forward to a few hard weeks to get me ready for the World championships in Australia.

Thanks for everyone’s support especially around that course yesterday – it really did push me on!!

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Jodie Stimpson: National Sprint Championships done… now onto Hamburg

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Well I’ve got to admit leading up to this race I was as nervous as hell because Helen Jenkins was on the start list and I knew what good form she was in! But these nerves soon turned to determination to race and hold my own against our best female athlete.

However my roller coaster of emotions took another twist and they soon turned to disappointment, when news came in that Helen wasn’t going to be racing. Helen had such a hard race at Kitzbühel – it was fair enough she needed a weekend without racing!!

It’s always great to test yourself against the very best, and that’s no disrespect to any of the girls who were racing because there were still some real top quality athletes racing but as a top athlete you always want to test yourself against the best. With Helen being current World Champion it would have given me a real indication as to where I am in the lead up to Hamburg, I will just have to wait until London to race against her.

The race went really well, me and my mum drove down to Wales yesterday (Friday) for the race briefing and drove into the cold and rainy weather that greeted us on the Welsh border!

I woke up today and the weather seemed like it was going to be generous and not rain (which it didn’t) but we couldn’t escape the cold water and air temperature and the blustery winds.

Today was my last hard session of a big training block and I went into the race a bit tired. That soon went straight to the back of my mind as I started to warm up, I went around the bike course to check out if there was any gravy or puddles on the course and luckily there wasn’t.

When I got in for my warm up swim the water temperature was A LOT colder than I thought it was going to be, but with it only being a 750m swim it wasn’t too bad.

I got out the water in 4th (which I’m not happy with!!! – as Abbie Thorington had built up a 30 second gap) I’m swimming really well in the pool at the moment but I just can’t seem to make it happen for me in open water. Hopefully this won’t be the case in Hamburg!

I’m working with Orca at the moment with my wetsuit, and today I raced in the 3.8 which gave me a lot more buoyancy in the water – but I’m just struggling to make it happen in the open water.

Onto the bike and straight into time trial mode (I think I’m going to name this ‘Michelle mode’ because I always think of Michelle when I get out of T1 and just put my head down and dig in). I caught Abbie after the first lap and we carried on pushing the pace, working really well together and got a minute gap on the chasing pack.

I’ve got to say a BIG thank you to Paul at Brotherton Cycles, as he has just given me a new S-WORKS frame which I’m in love with!! It went up that steep hill a treat!

By the time I got to T1 the cold air temp had totally tightened up my calves which made it hard to run – it lasted for the whole of the run, but I just pushed on and I am happy with the result.

Now Hamburg is next weekend and I’m SO EXCITED to race in a World Championship race!


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Jodie Stimpson: Good block of training and another BIG thank you

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After the U23 European Championships I’ve been in a training block to get myself ready for the up and coming races. It has been a bloody hard core block but with the way the top girls are now running it had to be!!!

I’m now getting ready for a few hard races on the trot. First I’ve got Bryn Bach Parc Sprint Distance (part of the Elite Super Series) and then onto some big races. Hamburg ITU World Championship, London Triathlon and then London Hyde Park ITU World Championship.

I’m really looking forward to racing with the best in the world. It’s going to be great to start on the pontoon with such talented women and hopefully mix it up with them.

I couldn’t sign the blog off without mentioning the fantastic group of people I work alongside at Oldbury College of Sport. Having once been my teachers after I went to the High School, I am now working alongside them! I love working in the PE department and hope that I can give something worthwhile back to the staff and pupils during my work.

Not only as an employer but also as a supporter of my Triathlon career, Head Teacher John Martin has been instrumental in my success. I know I put him in some really difficult situations when I ask for time off for my training camps and races etc, but he always finds ways to accommodate my requests wherever he can – and for that I wish to say a really big heartfelt THANK YOU!

John has been a fantastic employer and with the blog I am now able to tell the world just what a great place O.C.O.S is and what a fantastic team of people work there!

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Bobby White: A new chapter

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On the July 13th I arrived in Bregenz, Austria, to begin a new chapter of my life as a Handball Player.

The decision to come to A1 Bregenz wasn’t an easy one, with the option of going back to the academy in Aarhus being available, which would also hold the benefit of having the majority of the GB squad based there once again.

I am now finding myself in a foreign country with no familiar faces in sight; it is going to be a tough journey but one which should have a positive impact my Handball career. A1 Bregenz lifted the Austrian Championship last season and are going into a qualification round for the EHF Champions League, so to be associated with a club of this calibre is inspiring and spine-tingling in itself and I haven’t even stepped onto a court yet!

The season ahead will bring many challenges in all aspects of my life. Firstly having to leave loved ones back in the UK once again is not an enjoyable experience and I hope this move will not impact too severely on that. Secondly, having played Handball since January 2008 I now find myself within an established professional outfit and there will be no hiding place should mistakes be made and excuses of still being a development player will no doubt fall on deaf ears.

The first training session took place in the morning of Wednesday 15th. It was a fairly light start to training and it opened with a football match.  The heavens opened after the match as we did some conditioning work comprising of interval runs coupled with various exercises. The feeling of running in heavy rain on the grass brought back memories of pre-season training back in my footballing days!

On Friday 17th July we set off for Faschina a small town in the Austrian Alps to continue our pre-season conditioning. I was told it would be a gruelling five day training camp with four training sessions per day. On the first day our last training sessions was a 40 minute jog up one of the mountains. I was listening to a playlist on my iPod, which I often did when running through the traffic of Central Milton Keynes, we ran through a herd of cows on a narrow path on the mountain with ‘crosstown traffic’ by Jimmy Hendrix playing, it brought a smile to my face despite the mud rain and pain of the run!

The weather was a mixture of rain, snow and brief sunshine until we left on the Tuesday when it was about 30 degrees, typical!

So the first week is under my belt, I feel in good shape but I’m sure we have plenty of conditioning left to do. I am itching to get on to the court and hope I can take any opportunities that come my way during the pre-season friendly period!

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Jodie Stimpson: My season so far

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I’ve got to say a BIG thank you to Uptonaway Media for designing and building my website for me – You have got to agree it’s very smart and feel free to have a good look at all the links……I love it! Thanks again to everyone for all of their hard work and for working round the clock to get this up and running in double quick time.

This is my first blog and I will now be able to keep everyone well informed on where I am, how I’m doing, and what’s up next.

My season so far has gone great and I’m really pleased with my form. I started off the season with a 3rd at the National Championships and then followed that up with a double win at Blenheim and Windsor.

I’m really chuffed with how the U23 European Championships went, as I came away with silver -but the season has just begun and there is lots of racing left……

At the minute I’m back into a training block as I’ve just finished a period of racing, so I am -as Michelle and Stuart say – enjoying some “Balls in the wheelie bin” sessions lol. My next race is the Hamburg ITU World Championships race. It’s my first ever Elite World Championships race and I’m so excited to be starting on the line with the world’s best.

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David Wigley: Commentary and Cricket

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This week there is no 1st team cricket at all. The Northants Steelbacks last night qualified for a home quarter final tie against Hampshire in the Twenty20 Cup. I went to the ground to do some local radio commentary and do a quick circuit around the hospitality boxes, before I snuck up to the committee room where there was a little relief from the sun, but unfortunately not from the suffocating humidity. (It feels the same today – I suspect thunderstorms are on the horizon). It was a comfortable win in the final group stage against my former club Worcestershire. They looked pretty dapper in their 2009 twenty20 kit, although I suspect the totally black outfit was less comfortable to wear in the 30 degree heat compared to the more retro maroon and gold of the Steelbacks.

With the absence of 1st team cricket for a few days, I think the squad is split in what it has decided to do individually, on consultation of the coach of course. I think a couple of the foreign contingency are taking advantage of being a couple of hour’s flight from Europe’s sights whilst the others may just rest up for two or three days before maybe getting back into training towards the end of the week.

Some players, myself included, are going to use the opportunity to get some red-ball practice in with the 2nd XI, who are down in Hove, playing against Sussex. In the second XI this season, the fixtures are grouped so that you play a 3 day game, and a 1 day game all in the same trip, to minimise travel. Because of this, a few of the more senior players will be playing one of the two games. Personally, I will be travelling down after the 1 day game, to play in the 3 day game. If Sussex also have a mini-break then you often find that other senior players might turn out against you, which makes for a really good contest, and good practice before the next County Championship game against Derbyshire which starts the following week.

My trips down to Sussex mean one thing – fish and chips! Well, they mean more than just that, but when you go down to Brighton, you can guarantee there will be a flat pitch, a short boundary on one side, good practice facilities and fish and chips! All in all, it’s a nice trip to go on, and the 2nd team coach, David Ripley will probably enjoy the company of players that are born on the same side of 1990 as him!

Bobby White: I have returned to England

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So the Danish Handball season is over for myself and the rest of the squad at the Academy and I have returned to England where I am currently taking a week off from training. I am using this time to concentrate on my studies as well as planning my training for the coming weeks and spending time with friends and family.

The GB squad still await news from the British Handball Association regarding the appointment of our new coach and also the date for our first training camp which is likely to be at the end of April.

Looking forward, there may be an opportunity to return to the Sports Academy in Arhus, Denmark depending on scholarship and sponsorship opportunities that are currently being looked at by the Academy. I have been invited to join Second Division club Skovbakken which is close to the Academy so this may be a good prospect for next season, providing a financial solution can be found.

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