Gold Coast: the wait is almost over

9 April 2018

By Nikki Emerson

After a few days in the Gold Coast at my first Commonwealth Games I'm starting to feel at home.

I couldn't resist dragging my long-suffering boyfriend / cycling companion straight out onto the marathon course as soon as we landed (still in the clothes I travelled in!) to make sure my racing chair had survived the flight and get a first glimpse of the roads I'd be racing on a week on Sunday. 

Nikki at Gold Coast

It's definitely a course designed for great TV viewing — we race along the coast and in true Australian style my first recce took place in bright sunshine surrounded by skateboarders and hundreds of sports fans gathered around the beachfront big screens and music stages.

Most inclusive Games ever

What was particularly nice was how engaged everyone who stopped us to wish me luck was with the para-sport side of the Commonwealth Games programme here.

It's the most inclusive multi-sport Games ever, with more medals up for grabs than any other Commonwealths and our races completely integrated into the programme with the non-para events, so the stadium should be pretty packed.

As I'm racing both the 1500m and the marathon I've been splitting my time between training out on the marathon course and getting used to being on the track in this very hot and humid climate.

Check out the competition

We're lucky to have some access to train on the warm-up track alongside the Carrara Stadium where we'll be racing on Tuesday. We had our acclimatisation session on the main track: this was a great chance not only to have a dry run of the process we'll go through from leaving the Village to actually getting on the main track, but also to see how the other girls are pushing at the moment.

Nikki Emerson at the opening ceremony

Given it's been so long since I've raced at a big spectator track meet I was keen to remind myself what it feels like to come out into a packed stadium and hear the crowd roar for the first time, so unlike my para-athletics teammates I decided to go to the Opening Ceremony.

Of course parading with the athletes and knowing my friends were in the stand supporting us was a highlight, but I hadn't expected to enjoy sitting in the middle of the stadium after the parade and watching the show so much. The Gold Coast Organising Committee did themselves proud!

The long wait

So now I'm into my least favourite part of any competition — the long wait to actually get started.

Over the years I've learned that the absolute worst things for me in terms of preparation are being on my own with too much time to work myself up, or spending too much time with my competitors (who are also of course good friends of mine the rest of the time!) as I start worrying about whether their preparation has been better than mine, or they have some new tactic that will come as a surprise in the races.

I'm really lucky that my boyfriend is here for the duration of the Games so we're able to keep training very similar to how it is at home with him on his bike alongside me, and when I'm feeling the pressure I can escape the hothouse of the Athletes Village and have someone to chat to about anything other than athletics.

My races will be shown live on the BBC at 11.05am on 10 April and 9.10pm on 14 April, so look out for the distinctive white and red kit of team England!

Nikki is a Team England athlete and Can Do Sport ambassador. She is documenting her journey to next month’s Commonwealth Games: Nikki will be racing in the T54 1500m and T54 marathon at Gold Coast 2018.

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