So we've battled through, exams & assessments, the onslaught of uncontrollable nerves (which led me to experiment in visualisation techniques, calming music, stretches, smelling eucalyptus oil), the heat, (wow it's been hot) and some unexpected new and hopefully long-term friendships.......ta-dah, I'm out the other side, admittedly a little jaded, but in one piece and nothing a little dust down won't sort out. I said goodbye to college, with a small amount of relief but mainly a sense of excitement of new beginnings. I've met some really great people along the way and formed some lovely friendships, something that wasn't too difficult as the majority of the time we spent together, it was in a semi-clothed capacity.
In-between all the chaos, an increasingly busy clinic and a job offer, I found myself firing on pretty much all cylinders, so a typical as life is, up popped an opportunity to work with the Northern Ireland Athletics team. True to form and thanks to my Dad always pushing his daughters to our full capacity, I applied and didn't think for one moment I'd be asked. Two days later you guessed it, I got the position, I was absolutely thrilled. A week later, a packed up car and a decent playlist on my nano I was off to North Wales. Now the M6 isn't the greatest roads at the best of times, but on a Friday, NIGHTMARE. I left home at 1:30 and arrived 6 hours later. Fueled by Rowntrees Randoms, coffee and a slightly hoarse voice from the singing that took place during those 6 hours, I arrived in beautiful Wales, slightly wired, but relieved. Now I've spent time walking in South Wales, the Breacons to be precise, but never experienced the North. It was simply stunning. I knew I'd be gutted that my stay was going to be so short. My host for the evening was perfect, witty & entertaining making my stay incredibly comfortable, so much so it was hard not to stay for another evening and discover the amazing landscapes on the Sunday, or it was the cuppa I was presented with in bed the following morning that possibly swung it, a somewhat rarity when you become a mum and have a toddler that rises at 5 each morning!
So we all arrived ready for action early on Saturday morning.................I had the usual fight with my couch trying to persuade it out the car and then a few witty remarks about the set of wheels I slot my couch in to for ease of transportation......I however had the last laugh as I casually and with ease pulled my couch up a slop without a drop of sweat appearing on my brow!
The venue was excellent, spacious, undercover and astro-turfed which went down very well with the athletes. I was handed my very flattering (!), huge Ireland top and thrown in to the midst of the Irish. I have to admit I was nervous, but the nerves were derived from the the fact I had a job behind a bar in a pub when I was young and we used to have a crowd of Irish jockeys stay, I battled with understanding a word they said, the more I tried to concentrate and watch their lips with the shear determination that I'd not have to say pardon for the third time, the less I understood, it became a standing joke with them, so I knew the pressure was on!
What we fail to see as members of the public is the' behind the scenes' atmosphere. The focus each athlete possess in warming up to cooling down. The psychological stresses prior to their events. The mindset you have to adopt when treating athletes, the importance of being positive, encouraging, quiet if necessary and in some cases supportive when their event may not have gone quite as they had planned. Even though the team travel together, they actually don't all know each other, being away from their families and having, in some cases school disrupted, are all 'big asks' of young adults. I could only feel a sense of respect for each and everyone of them.
Taping, stretching, soft tissue release and deep tissue massage were the order of the day. There was a physiotherapist and osteopath on call for injuries or more complicated cases, it's important to know when to refer a case and not work outside your remit especially when treating elite athletes, with this support team around you your knowledge base quickly expands helping you become a more effective and experienced therapist.
I loved my time at the Celtic games, the Irish team were fantastic to work for and as ever I learnt so much which puts me on a 'new rung of the ladder' as they say. I left Wales with the hope of returning again in the not too distant future, hopefully to walk around the beautiful landscape rather than for work.