As a director of Tops for 12 years and Physiotherapist for over 20 years, this weekend was one I will remember for a long time for the right reasons.
#teamtops and supporters traveled down South to take part in the Superhero Triathlon Series held at the beautiful Olympic rowing venue of Eaton Dorney
Neil Malcolm, Jason Richards, Dave Harrop, Paul Gorman, Philip Taylor, Jimmy Gittins, Tim Hague all joined us at the campsite for paella and pasta and despite the rain we had a great time. I take my hat off to all those who camped and experienced the push through the grass, the camp beds, the disabled shower facilities were apparently great, if not a bit far away.
John Gaimster joined #teamtops on the Saturday, along with Invictus athlete Luke Delahunty who kindly stood in for Hannah Hunt, who sadly had to pull out due to injury.
Arriving in the sunshine on Saturday morning at Eaton Dorney and just seeing the crowds of athletes of every level and diversity you can imagine. GB athletes, celebrity athletes, ages from 3- 80. People who had never experienced a sporting event to those who had done it all but not quite like this!
The range of bikes, handbikes, walkers, prosthetics were a vision to behold. We saw someone being pulled in a giant swan across the lake, children pushed in adapted bikes, double bikes being pedalled by a blind athlete and a grandmother. The diversity of age, ability, disability and experience brought tears to my eyes.
The vibe from those supporting their loved ones in their endeavours, the joy on peoples faces from their achievements, to be part of an event that celebrated Ability -was wonderful.
Our first team of Neil, Luke and Jason, had all previously competed in races and triathlons. They completed the full superheros triathlon relay in 1 hour 9 min, coming 9th out of 79 teams.
Our second team comprised of Dave, Paul and Philip, the event was a first for all of them. We managed to have Dave out his wheelchair 3 times but he was amazing in the water; Paul, who had only had his Batec bike for a week to practice and Philip, who had not walked that far since his hip operation. They were fantastic and #teamtops supporters loved every moment. They completed the Half Superhero in 1hr 17min coming 51 out of 65 teams
Our final team of the day was Jimmy, Tim and John, this was just an awesome team. It was one of firsts, Jimmy in his life jacket on his back drinking half the lake being supported by his brother Dave, then Tim who borrowed a Batec handbike and had only used one once before and finally John supported by his sister Gilly. This was the team that epitomised our day. A proud day, one where achievements were made and dreams lived. John coming over the finish line brought #teamtops to tears. They completed the sprint superhero triathlon in 1 hour 7 min coming 106 out of 114 teams.
It was stressful, full of hope, laughter, fun and joy. It was exhausting but on Saturday evening sitting around with those left at the campsite the stories, the happiness and pure enjoyment of competing. It was all worth it.
Our supporters that travelled so far, the sidekicks- Gilly and Dave who helped their athletes get through their events and the feeling of achievement by everyone at the end of the day when we took out team photos.
This is what drives everyone at Tops, it gives meaning to what we do.
Never give up, strive to achieve your dreams, by opening that door a little you never know where that journey could lead you.
#teamtops you make me proud.