Emma Wiggs competed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games as part of Great Britain's sitting volleyball team. In March 2013 she was selected for the GB Paracanoe squad and quickly became double World Champion. In this exclusive blog, she tells us about the power of sport with just two years to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games get under way.
Two years ago I was a part of the greatest sporting event the world had ever seen. In two years’ time I hope to be on a plane bound for Rio to be part of the next Paralympic Games.
Ordinary is probably the best word to describe me pre-2010; an ordinary teacher in an ordinary school living a very ordinary life. Then a British Paralympic Association Talent Identification day changed my life forever.
My first journey saw me as part of GB Sitting Volleyball team who competed at London 2012. It may sound cheesy, but the journey towards London and participating in it was life-changing and gave me a hunger to achieve that I had no idea was inside me.
So, after the games I embarked on a mission to find a sport that would give me a chance to be the best I could be, the chance to spend every day looking for the extra that I could put into the ordinary and a sport that would be professional and performance driven towards excelling on the world stage in Rio 2016 - GB Canoeing was the answer!
Since my selection in March 2013 it has been the most incredible experience. Training at the High Performance Centre in Nottingham, working with the dedicated and professional staff team and pushing my body to limits I never knew it could reach has meant that I’m sitting here two years from Rio as a double World Champion and part of the greatest Paracanoe team in the World, a team which won six gold and three silver medals at this year’s World Championships.
I loved my ‘ordinary’ life as a teacher despite it being pretty hectic and hard with long hours working with young people and using the power of sport to hopefully have some sort of impact on their lives. I feel the same passion and the same drive to be the best I can be as an athlete.
Becoming part of the GB Canoeing team has given me an unbelievable opportunity to make the best of the two-thirds of me that work and to push myself to ever increasing heights. I’ve learned more in the last 18 months than I could have imagined and I totally believe I am a better person and athlete for it.
It may seem odd to use the word ‘team’ for an individual sport but I make no apology for that, it is indeed the greatest team in the world. As athletes we are incredibly lucky to be supported by UK Sport and given a hugely talented staff team who work every hour of every day to make us faster.
Be it one per cent gains or big strategic decisions everything is focussed on getting the best out of each and every one of us. In return we train six days a week every week in the gym and on the water and for the last year and a half I have commuted between Glasgow and Nottingham to fulfil training requirements.
Do I regret my hectic and at times exhausting life? No absolutely not. I love going to bed every night thinking what ‘extra’ have I given today to ensure this ‘ordinary’ person will be better tomorrow?
Follow Emma on Twitter @emwiggsy