With anything in life, first we must believe. 

As an athlete I had that inner belief in abundance.

This was probably to do with the environments I found myself in at British Rowing and British Cycling. 

Two different sports, and managed differently, but with a shared belief that when you got onto the start line you had the inner ability to win. 

You only have to walk the corridors of both sports training venues to see why it’s easy to develop that inner belief – every wall covered in photos of champions. 

I miss walking into those training environments, and after another week of training here in Jamaica I miss the athlete inside of me.

What do I mean by that? 

Very few athletes get to retire on their own terms, so many are robbed by injury or deselection, for me it was cancer. 

The dreaded scans that constantly diagnosed me with my tumour.

I never got one full year’s training in cycling and I guess because it’s an Olympic and Paralympic year I am reminded of the what ifs. 

I have never fully let go of what I feel is unfinished business.

I miss the structure and discipline that come with training every day to put yourself on the starting line.

I guess these emotions arose this week after training alongside athletes here and spending time chatting with Jamaican sprint star Yohan Blake around his aims for Paris.

On the one hand I felt fired up to train harder, and on the other my inner voice started to sabotage my mind.

The inner voice saying we are going to die, the thoughts of my fellow in-patient Roberto dying in hospital last year when I went through surgery, to the thoughts of my upcoming radiotherapy treatment. It is all becoming very overwhelming. 

As I try to get as strong as possible to stay alive, I reflect on my time in sport. Maybe sport for me was not about winning medals but all along it was to prepare me for this battle – a battle to stay alive and hopefully giving others a belief that no matter the adversity you can still live a fulfilling life. 

Albert Bandura, a famous psychologist, once said: “Persons who have a strong sense of efficacy deploy their attention and effort to the demands of the situation and are spurred by obstacles to greater effort.” 

I feel this describes my situation regarding my tumour. As the tumour becomes the obstacle, every surgery, appointment and thought about what it is doing to my body, spurs me to greater effort. 

I believe this level of self belief comes from all the hours in those sporting environments of both rowing and cycling. However, this is not a linear thought process and as I approached the end of my weeks training here in Jamaica I was overcome with worry, self doubt and that inner self efficacy was challenged.

It was at that very point Alex Gregory posted on LinkedIn.

Now I am not sure if Alex will even know the impact of his post on me, but I needed to read his words on this particular morning. 

Alex, a double Olympic Gold medallist in rowing, was someone I admired greatly when I was on the national team. 

A very humble athlete and one of the best rowers to have rowed for GB, he has an incredible mindset on approaching life and his words of wisdom this week were exactly what I needed. 

He explained how in rowing we had a philosophy that was simple but effective: keep your eyes in the boat. This basically meant that you can’t control the weather, the water, or your competition. All you can control is what you are doing inside your own boat. 

What does this mean to you? For me it was simple. The takeaway was: I cannot control my tumour or the fact that I am paralysed.

I cannot control the environment around me but I can control how I respond and show up each day.

And with this in mind I can have the inner belief that I am living each day with a passion and purpose.