It was just over 3 years ago and I was still trapped…
I was sat in a prison cell, dreaming about my release and eventually becoming a professional athlete in the outside world.
Although I held a few British and World records on a rowing machine, this was the only proof I had of the physical ability I harnessed which could potentially turn these dreams into a reality. I had wasted almost a decade of my life locked up without the freedoms most people take for granted and this gave me an incredible drive to succeed. And nobody truly understood this apart from me.
I had many parole hearings where the judges and panels just laughed and were dismissive of my ambition. Other inmates thought it was impossible as I was so heavily entrenched in crime and I knew nothing else. The odds were not stacked in my favour.
But I knew with absolute conviction and 100% certainty that sport would be my savior and my body would be the tool to build a new life for myself. I yearned to get away from the negative, self destructive path I had been on since an early age.
It’s been hard along the way. I came out of prison with nothing other than an unwavering self belief and hope for a better future. I’ve failed many times along the way in my sporting pursuits since my release but I’ve never, ever thought about giving up. A quote from Steve Prefontaine, one of the greatest runners in the world always stuck in my mind:
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
And now this year has thrown up and exciting opportunity. A book publisher listened to a BBC radio interview about me last year and decided to commission my story.
Making the decision to write a book on my life was a tough decision as its a challenging process. Opening up about your past that you are not proud of and feel embarrassed about is not an easy thing to do but hopefully some people can take something positive from reading my story.
Also in writing the book I think this will open doors for me that would have otherwise been shut – to help and give something back to those young kids who are going down the wrong path in life and think that crime is a way to earn respect and admiration. I have a real passion to show young people that there are better ways to earn those two things in life by playing sport or getting a good education.
It’s never too late to follow a dream and if I can manage to do it then anyone can. It just takes self belief, determination and consistent hard work with a lot of small steps to reach you’re goal.
I want to thank all my friends who have supported and stuck by me over the years and got me to this point in my life – you know who you are.
Also a huge thanks to Bethan Evans at Craft who put her neck on the line from day one to support my sporting goals.
And Wyndymilla for their amazing bikes – I’m looking forward to the new project we are starting to get disadvantaged children riding and participating in sport.
Chris Howard of ThinkInc – Massive thanks for the tireless work you do in keeping the website moving forward.
And Kudos to Keith Sanders, my Ironman coach from Perform Fitness who has helped me to peel the onion and tap into my athletic potential.
And last but not least I want to say a big thank you to Terry Williamson of InSearchofBrillliance, a performance and life coach and a close friend. He has been there since before my release and supported me every step of the way. And he still thinks he will beat me cycling up the Forclaz….
Finally on the racing front there is only 9 weeks to the biggest day of my sporting life so far- Ironman Frankfurt, the European Championships. Training has gone great and I can’t wait to race and see what I can do on the day against some of the best Ironman athletes in the world.
Thanks for reading and for the amazing, ongoing support both in person and via social media. It really is humbling and I look forward to sharing the journey with you all.