Warning this first entry is a lengthy one.
I decided to create a blog about my trials and tribulations as I try and get myself into road racing. So you may be asking yourself what makes me any different from anyone else in the same situation, in all honesty probably nothing. You're either going to be interested or not.
My name is Gary 29 years old, born in East London and now living in Essex. I work full time and when not at work I am a Dad and Husband. After being completely sucked in by the greatness of the London 2012 Olympics, I decided to set myself a goal. Brace yourself it is a massive goal. I decided that I wanted to be an Olympian. I know crazy right? Some of you will now be thinking this guy must be on something but I can assure you that I have never touched any drugs.
Let me tell you about my background before you think I am completely delusional. I grew up participating in every sport going even if I was rubbish I competed in it and just tried to be the best I could in whatever sport I did. As a kid the sport I participated the most in was football, my Sunday league team were brilliant from the age of about 6 it didn't change much and by the age of 11 we had pretty much won everything that we could enter. At 8 years old I was Tottenham's books, I enjoyed my time their but at the age of 13 I knew I wasn't in their plans. So I asked to be released so to go on trial at Watford.
The trial didn't work out the way I wanted it to and the then Youth Team Director at the time told me I would never make it as a professional footballer. That hurt but it made me more determined to prove him wrong, 2 years later I was back on trial at Watford, the trial lasted an age because the Youth Team Director changed mid trial so everything was up in the air. John McDermott was the new Youth Team Director and wanted me to come in for two weeks over Easter holidays and train with the current Under 17s. I was excited. 6 weeks before I came on for the Under 17s playoff match within a few minutes I was back off the pitch with an ankle injury. They don't nickname me touch tackle for nothing, my first touch was never the greatest but this time it landed me in a spot of bother. It took me past the defender towards a rushing goalkeeper, like my whole life I fully commit to the challenge. My ankle was in agony and I couldn't walk and the keeper was limping around. I came of worse as he played on.
The next morning my Dad took me to the hospital and they took an X-Ray of my ankle, it was good news it was just badly sprained. So I reported the findings to the physio and looking forward to my two weeks training over Easter but as it grew closer my ankle was still they same. So Watford paid for an MRI scan for me, which revealed I had a hairline fracture of my right tibia, I needed at least 6 weeks in a cast. I was gutted, I thought that was it they wouldn't want me now. No way to prove myself to be worthy of a YTS contract. John McDermott came to me and offered me an alternative. Train as I had been with the Under 16s on a Tuesday and Thursday and see where that takes me. I was delighted, that summer I worked hard and trained full time until I went back to Sixth form. Ashley Young followed this path too a year after me and look at him now.
I spent two years doing this under the guidance of David Hockaday and then D-Day came and I offered a 1 year professional contract. They were going to offer me two at first but the few months leading up to the decision my performances hadn't been the standard I had set. I know the exact moment when I started to struggle. During one of the school holidays I was about to start training with the youth team and David called me over and told me I was training with the Reserves. I was over the moon, I had trained or played with the majority of players before but the title of the reserves scared me and I was like a rabbit in headlights and that affected me for a few months and lost me a second year, but I was appreciative of my year and the day got better we were playing a behind closed doors match against Arsenal as they wanted some of their First Team players to have a run out after injuries before a game at the weekend. Seamen and Adams played, I came off the bench and was marked by Adams it was an honour.
That season didn't go to plan and and I knew I wasn't going to get my contract renewed. The then manager Ray Lewington called me in his office. A senior player stood outside as I walked in singing 'There maybe trouble ahead' I get banter but that was just unprofessional another person to prove wrong. Ray told me my contract was not to be renewed, but he told me don't give up and always play with you heart on your sleeve. I never forgot those words and use them in life as well as in sport.
I left and joined Scarborough, then onto Gretna in Scotland, on loan to Workington where I helped them gain promotion to the Conference North via the playoff. Then my final professional team was Grimsby, got to the playoff finals and beat Derby County and Tottenham in the League Cup and I picked up the young player of the year award. Not bad for someone who was not good enough to be a professional. The next season I spent injured and left at the end of it.
The next winter I decided I wanted to try American Football, I tried out and got in as a running back. I loved it and meant my natural physical side could come out without getting into trouble. I played for the Essex Spartans, a lot of us were new to the sport but in general we did well considering. I picked up the MVP award. I have always tried to be the best I can be in whatever I try and so far it has served me well.
I went back to football playing Semi-Pro for St Albans, I found it tough playing football part time and working full-time. In my second season I won Goal of the Season which can be found here at 1:44. Shameless plugging I know.
Up until last year I hadn't done much in the way of sport, I had even got lazy going to the gym. Then an opportunity arose to take part in a charity boxing event for LeeBrownEvents. I couldn't resist I had always wanted to do it, so I put my name down. 3 months preparation, not much but it was 3 x 1 min rounds.
I trained hard with my old school friend and a lot of sparring with him, even if he was 3 stone heavier and 6 inches taller. I learnt to take a punch in that time. He then arranged some sparring with another school friend who had had a few fights. Being the competitor I am I thought it will be a good marker for to see where I am. In my head I thought I would be OK. I wasn't I got hammered every punch he threw landed, every punch i threw hit thin air. I accepted my beating but didn't give up probably should of done. His boxing coach then verbally hammered me, the main part being that I would never be in any condition to fight in such sort time. I went back the next day for an hour long training session with the coach. He couldn't believe how quick I picked up what he was teaching. A week before the fight I sparred with my mate again, it was even and I have managed to make him throw a few air shots. If you want something bad enough you will find ways to achieve. Fight night came and it was a massive buzz which you can view here.
My family has a sporting background too my Dad competed at two Olympics for TeamGB in the 400m and my Mum also ran for GB in the 100m. My Auntie also Ran for GB in the 100m won a World Championship Silver and competed in the Olympics. You can't ask for better role models when it comes to sports or being a good human being.
This has gone on longer than I had expected, so back to my goal to become an Olympian, I needed a sport football was out the window, athletics was also out the window as I didn't think me knees would be able to take the impact. I had always rode a bike but during the Olympics they cycling was phenomenal and so the love affair began.
I have told friends, family and work colleagues my aim. Why? Well the goal I have set is at the top of the mountain and I will more than likely fall short, but goals aren't meant to be easy to achieve you have to challenge yourself at all times to be the best you can. If I can inspire at least one person I have told to aim high for a goal and achieve it this blog will be a success. For me to achieve my goal I need to work hard and dedicate as much as I can to it while working full time and being a good Husband and Dad. It is going to be difficult and at times I will probably want to give up but I am determined to push myself as hard as my body can tolerate and only time will tell on where this next sporting adventure will take me.