SportsAid alumnus Toby Gold, 21, is getting ready to compete for ParalympicsGB in the T33 100m at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Toby is a wheelchair racer who won gold in the 100m at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Grosseto in June. Toby received SportsAid awards in 2013 and 2014 and has been writing regular blogs for the charity in the lead up to Rio. Toby’s final instalment focuses on his family ties in Brazil, preparing to perform on the Paralympic stage and handling the pressure of a one-off race.
‘There are no second chances - I see it as extra motivation to get it right’
I'm going to have a sizeable support at the Olympic Stadium this Saturday but not all of them will have travelled halfway around the world to be there. I'm lucky enough to be able to boast my own Brazilian fan club....and they're all related to me! My dad was born in Vitoria, just outside Rio, and my grandma (or ‘vovo’ as I know her!) is a full-blooded Brazilian. We have a big family as my dad has a lot of cousins who have children, and they even have their own little ones too! This is actually the first time I've been to Brazil so I haven't even met a lot of them before. It's quite comforting to know they'll all be cheering me on and I'm looking forward to seeing them after the race.
Before flying out to Belo Horizonte, I spent quite a bit of time training in heat chamber facilities to help me acclimatise to the conditions we could face out in Rio. The settings were made a lot hotter than Rio and that helped give us one less thing to worry about as we experienced the higher temperatures before coming out here. The heat and the conditions can be a concern for me as it can massively affect fatigue levels relating to my disability so it was a useful exercise. It's just circulated hot air so there is no outside breeze. You are melting in there - if you can do it in the chamber, you can do it outdoors.
I've been training with Hannah Cockroft and Richard Chiassaro for a good while now which has been brilliant. Hannah has been there and done it before in London and knows what to expect. Our 100m times are very similar so it’s great doing sprint work together so we can pace each other. With us all being so far away from home, the team element really comes into play and there are over 50 track and field athletes who are going through the same stuff. We can relate to each other and work through the competition together as a group and that’s helped in the build-up with being able to speak to Hannah, Richard and my other training partners.
I do train and compete over different distances but only have to turn my attention to the 100m for the Paralympics. I like that being the case as I can focus solely on perfecting that one race. I guess there is an extra pressure as there are no second chances. You haven't got the opportunity to learn and move onto the next one. I faced that pressure in the Europeans so I know I can do it. I see it as extra motivation to get it right and that’s all I have to think about. The 100m is the one I like the most because it’s more technical and suits me. Once I have the race finished, I know that’s the time I can take in the rest of the Rio experience.
It is very much about dotting the i's and crossing the t's when you're this close to a race. With my own training, I always do things the same as if I was in competition. You want that routine to become as ingrained as possible so that you keep everything consistent across training and in competition. You want to make sure you have that extra competitive edge, and being as prepared as you can be is crucial. Before flying, I bought tons of screws for my chair and lots of spares so that I can replace them just in case I need to. It's a small detail but you have to be ready and plan for any eventuality. It's the Paralympics after all!
You can help #SupportTheNext generation of British sports stars by getting involved in SportsAid Week - a brand new initiative raising money and awareness to support young talented athletes straight after the Rio Paralympic Games.