Life for Hannah Stodel is mainly lived on the water. Paralympic sailing star, Her along with her two-team mates Steve Thomas and John Robertson are no new comers to the Paralympic Games. Having competed at three Paralympic Games, they are in my eyes Paralympic sailing royalty. Unfortunately there last Paralympic event was not without it’s drama and the team did not medal, but there is hope yet with an on-going case that could result in the team being rewarded with their Longley awaited bronze medals.
The 2012 Paralympic games were held in London and the sailing event took place along the coast in Weymouth. A beautiful beacon of the south coast, Weymouth was the perfect venue and it was going to be one for the history books. The team sailed their hearts out and on the penultimate day were in bronze medal position. The team had been allowed a boat repair due to some damage earlier in the week. Due to a misunderstanding between the boson and a Paralympic official, Great Britain were given a five-point penalty that pushed them back to fifth position.
Having trained with this dynamic trio many times, I for one know how much effort they put into their work and what this event meant to them. They went away and focused all their energy on the last day of racing. The twitter updates said it all, they were not going to give up and they definitely fought to the end of the regatta.
Final day of racing and the team were psyched ready for action, but due to a lack of wind the race officer cancelled the days sailing, leaving Great Britain in fifth position overall. It was a gutting moment for all the team and their supporters, as everyone knew that our British sailors deserved that bronze medal!
There is an on going investigation going on at the moment about the incident which will decide whether GBR get their podium position after all. There is still hope for our three Paralympians in claiming their bronze medals. (Fingers crossed everyone).
A few months on and I went to London to catch up with Hannah Stodel herself. I wanted to find out if she thought that the Games had left a legacy and what is next for her and the team…
Kilburn: What legacy do you think the Games has left on the country?
Stodel: I think people are more aware of disability sports and what’s available. Certainly with the GB sports fest, so people could come and try the sports for themselves. Obviously the infrastructure, the academy is never going to leave Weymouth now so that’s good for us in terms of training. We have an amazing training base. I am a little disappointed that there isn’t more going on. I think we are missing some good opportunities here in London with so many venues that are not open to the public yet.
Kilburn: With Channel4 broadcasting the Paralmypic Games in London last year, how did this effect you as a Paralympian?
Stodel: I think it definitely helped raise awareness, I mean the whole label, the whole super human thing and people paid attention to it. Less adverts would have been nice though! It was a bit different in terms of branding though for this Games, because we as Paralympians feel on the same level as the Olympians we are just missing bits, but to be called the Super humans it let people think that we have overcome our disabilities. In terms of branding it was a definitely successful. We have all been through hard times because of our disabilities but for the Games I think people just accepted it as sports.
Kilburn: For you 2012 wasn’t without its drama, so what have you taken away from the London Paralympic Games?
Stodel: I am trying not to think about it but the biggest thing for us is not giving up, obviously with the case still going, its going to be one for the history books what ever happens. To be honest though, we have moved on now. We are just going to go away train hard and win a gold in Rio.
Kilburn: I second that and very best of luck in the future Hannah!
What an amazing interview, it was the first time I had seen Hannah since the Games and I can tell you that she is looking ready for her next event! I think her rivals better stay clear of this team in future, they are fired up and ready for what anyone has to throw at them! Of course I wish her and the team the very best of luck in the next four years as they prepare for Rio 2016!