Wednesday, 12 September 2012
‘LET ME WIN, BUT IF I CANNOT WIN, LET ME BE BRAVE IN THE ATTEMPT’ - Why I love being a Special Olympics Trainer
It’s official, the party’s over. The Olympics and Paralympics have ended and the flags are now on their way to Rio.
Throughout the Olympics and Paralympics, not only have the stories and the triumphs engaged me completely, but the significance sport has had for all of the athletes has been obvious and electrifying.We’ve witnessed how it has changed people’s lives by giving them opportunities, goals and dreams. The power of sport is the same for everyone involved, and is especially the case for the athletes I train for the Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics is a year-round community sports programme for all children and adults who have learning disabilities. It also includes a few days of events and competition throughout the year. The ethos is to promote and encourage sport. It’s not all about the winning, but the taking part – being active, keeping fit, social interaction, learning new skills, pushing boundaries and most importantly enjoying the moment and having fun.
I teach Joe. Joe rides on two wheels and so doesn’t need a specially adapted bike. When Joe first started training, cycling around the park was hard work. Now he’s like Forrest Gump. If I let him, he would just keep on going. We do warm ups, practice braking and gears, do mini sprints, time-trials and play games with other trainees.
Last week we were riding on a path in the park. For once it was clear – no people, no dogs, just a big open space and before I knew it, Joe put his foot down and whizzed off. I had to pedal really fast to catch him up and as I did so, I turned around and saw his face. He was smiling from ear to ear. Joe is non-verbal, but that smile said a thousand words. As a trainer, that smile is the highlight of my week.
So, the Olympics and Paralympics might be over, but here is a very Special Olympics that happens year round. Want to come and join the party?
For more information on how to get involved with the Special Olympics, go to:
For more information on taking part as a Special Olympics cycling trainee, go to:
Photo of me © James Perrin:
Sunday, 2 September 2012
I've just taught a trainee to ride on the roads with confidence. Only thing is, two months ago she couldn't ride at all. If you're feeling inspired to learn how to ride, no matter the age, just do it.
Listen to my trainee's story here:
Barriers that stop people from learning how to ride often include being scared to go on the road, thinking they'll be too slow, image and perhaps that now they are an adult, they should know how to cycle and feel a bit embarrassed to learn. This really shouldn't be the case. I've taught people of all ages, sizes and backgrounds and they have all agreed that once they've learnt, they wish they'd done it sooner. It's never too late. Even if you can ride, but just want to gain confidence on the roads, then there are people like me out there willing to give you a hand.
Cycling is brilliant exercise, an economical form of transport, sociable and above all is fun. Some boroughs in the UK give cycling lessons for free, if you live or work in that borough. However, if you are unable to find free lessons, do go on to this website and find a cycling instructor near you who is accredited.
I teach in north London. If you would like some advice about cycling, please email me on: