I have noticed in life that I always seem to gravitate towards people with a similar mindset to mine. It probably got started for me training with guys like Alain and Noel Baxter up in Aviemore. I was a couple of years younger than Alain, and a year older than his brother Noel, who was also a skier.

For me, Alain was a big inspiration. As an athlete he was formidable. In fact, I posted a video last week about how everyone needs inspiration and mine was of Alain winning that Winter Olympic medal out in Salt Lake City. It is criminal he got it taken off him, a sin. But he will always have the memories of standing on that podium. No-one will ever take that away.

Likewise, I always say that when you are on that hospital bed, and are at the end of your life, you have memories. That is all you have. I have never taken my Paralympic medal to the hospital, in fact I have barely ever looked at it. But I will always have the memories of what it felt like to win it and the journey to get me there.

In my eyes, Alain will always be the first British skier to win an Olympic medal and it is a stand-out memory of mine as a youngster, along with Ian Mackie sprinting and Chris Hoy winning his medal in Athens. They are the three things that I always pull on if I am struggling.


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I was pretty lucky to travel with Alain and Noel for a while as an assistant coach. And when you are away with them that long, you have the banter, you have the laughs. Sometimes that banter gets you through the hard times. I had an amazing morning yesterday, listening to a podcast by a guy called Wim Hof, who ran up Everest wearing a pair of shorts and in bare feet. He changed my mind to meditation and how I breathe, made me conscious about how I can train my body to handle stressful situations.

I can’t wait to use this before I go back to competition. Anyway, after a really good morning I jumped into the taxi which takes me to radiology, or as I call it, to get zapped. I have a word for people who suck the energy out of me, I call them vampires. And as soon as I jumped into the taxi I could tell this guy was one of them.

As he talked, I could feel the energy from his body transmitting to mine. That was how it felt. I’m so in tune with it now that I was like ‘no, no, no’. Nine years of hospital treatment later, I still find myself gravitating towards people with similar energy – even in the radiology ward.

I am starting to make friends here. Radiology mates I call them. Even if our lives would probably never cross outside of here. For instance, I saw one guy several times during week one, but this week we got chatting. You find out the life behind the tumour. Every person satin here has a story. As we spoke, each asking ‘what kind of tumour do you have?’ he casually commented ‘they gave me a time’.

It passed like a leaf blowing in the wind or a passing comment about the football. I just paused and looked. What do you say to someone who says ‘I have 12-18 months left to live’?


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We just kept chatting about life and what we have both gone through. Then a nurse walks past carrying some masks, I pause and think to myself ‘that’s basically people she is carrying’. As it turns out, the guy I spoke to is quite a famous artist who has paintings in 250 galleries across the world. He asked if I had any hobbies and I told him what I do is my hobby. He said he had a mental block just now and the one thing that would put him at ease is the one thing he can’t do: paint.

It is a bit like me, and its funny because I’ve always seen art and sport as similar practices. The top artists get in a flow, as do the top sports people. My zapping sessions this week have been at lunchtime rather than later. This has meant me seeing more children for some reason. I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel for them. You see their masks in the room, the adult ones are just plain but the kids’ ones have very cool paintings on them and they have a nice play area for them.

I meet the engineer who looks after the machines, a Croatian man who escaped the war in his country. He is telling me about his escape and how he ended up working on these machines that save peoples’ lives. A young kid skips past like she is off to school, apart from this young one has lost all her hair and is on her way to the machine.

The door next to me opens and it’s a young kid not older than three. Sat up in a bed and being pushed back to his ward, he is giving the radiology team a high five. To see this first-hand affects you, you wouldn’t be human if it didn’t. Radiology is not a place you ever feel complacent. I would much rather be out on my bike. But each day I am fully present in the moment – and as crazy as this sounds, I actually enjoy my little visits and social interactions with the team here.