Friday, August 24, 2012

Sara Head - Road to the London 2012 Paralympics

Our latest blog comes from ParalympicsGB Table Tennis player Sara Head. London 2012 will be her first games after narrowly missing out on Beijing in 2008. Sara shares her story from her disappointment before Beijing through to her selection for London.

Sara Head: Welsh table tennis star

After failing to make Beijing in 2008, I was sitting in Chicago airport on New Year’s Eve, at the last competition of the year, knowing that I had failed to qualify by a narrow margin.

The run up to Beijing had seen me placed as possible wild card, as well as first reserve. I had the same training schedule as the selected squad and, as you can imagine, it was one of the hardest years of my life.

I did everything the selected squad had done for Beijing except get on the plane. My team partner and I, watching the snow falling and wondering if we would fly home that night, made a pact that together we were going to work so hard for the next four years to qualify for London 2012 and it started from now.

The year 2009 was a pivotal one for me. Qualification for the World Championships 2010 was a must; this was a big stepping stone that was needed for my qualification for London 2012. It was a successful year, ending in qualification and selection for the World Championships, which kept me on track for my London 2012 journey.

Then 2010 was my most successful year yet, winning the team event bronze at the World Championships, bringing home the only medal for Great Britain.

Going in to 2011, selection year for London, brought back all the nerves and feelings of what happened to me prior to Beijing. This was a hurdle I had to clear.

A very successful year brought me even closer to London, after becoming World number five, with the highlight of becoming team champions.

Sara has succeeded in her dream to reach the Paralympics
I can honestly say I gave it all I had; it was now in the hands of the selection committee and ParalympicsGB.

It was a nervous wait over the New Year but nowhere near as nervous as 2007. This time I had achieved something I never had five years ago. My dream was still alive.

During a training camp in Sheffield we had a team launch and we were told our selection had been confirmed. I was ecstatic beyond words and the best thing; my team partner had also qualified.

We had achieved our pact, with no time to celebrate we were back training.

With the games edging closer, it is getting more exciting, seeing the momentum build. I cant wait! My family are coming to watch me compete for the first time, what more can I ask for?

I have incredible support from Disability Sport Wales, Team GB, Jim Munkley in particular - who always believed in me - as well as the staff at Sport Wales that fix me and send me back off and the overwhelming support I get at the Sport Wales National Centre.

Follow Sara on Twitter @saraheadtt.

Check out the Disability Sport Wales website and follow them on Twitter @dsw_news for all the latest disability sport news across Wales and at the London 2012 Paralympics.