Issy Bailey: Six months on from Rio 2016 Olympics
My first experience of a Paralympic Games was even better than I thought it would be.
My teammates had told me that a Games will always exceed your expectations and they were totally right. At the time of London 2012, I hadn’t yet had my injury and had no connection with the world of disability sport or the Paralympic movement. Now that I’m a part of ParalympicsGB, I realise what an important association it is and how fortunate we are to live in a country that is such a strong advocate of equal opportunities.
When I took up shooting 3 years ago, I never expected it would lead me to the Games. Now that I can call myself a Paralympian, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’ve met some very special people and all are links in a remarkable Paralympic chain that makes GB one of the greatest sporting nations in the world.
I even had the chance to meet some famous people, too! I had lunch with HRH Prince Edward one afternoon, and was invited to the set of Adam Hills’ The Last Leg that night.
Each day we were out there was full of exciting challenges and welcome surprises. It was a whirlwind but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. It’s also opened a lot of doors. I’ve been invited to talk at schools, conferences and on radio shows, and it’s been really rewarding to spread the word about the opportunities that disability sport can offer and educate more people about life after something as seemingly debilitating as spinal cord injury.
Since Rio, the feeling within our shooting squad has been a little stormy. Unfortunately, we did not reach our medal target and that was reflected in the general morale of the team over the next few months. With fears about funding cuts for the next Paralympic cycle, we all took a break after Rio to reflect on what we’d learnt and what we needed to change in order to get back on track.
I’m happy to say that, after our athlete reviews and post-competition feedback, the feeling in the squad is much more positive and we’re looking forward to this year’s competition cycle.
For me personally, 2017 has started really well. Training is on an upward trajectory and has transferred into my competition scores, so I’m really determined to carry this forward into the international competitions later this year.
To find out what else Issy has been up to and to keep up to date with her future competitions follow Issy on Twitter.