Double World Champion Keri-anne Payne Reflects on #teamredsky success at Glasgow 2014

Double World Champion Keri-anne Payne Reflects on #teamredsky success at Glasgow 2014

What a fantastic Commonwealth Games Red Sky had in Glasgow. Of the 18 athletes that competed there were 5 Gold medals, 3 Silver medals, 3 Bronze medals and 16 finals across the board!  

James Guy KAP1

The Red Sky athletes in the pool did a fantastic meet. James Guy won a Gold and Bronze medal at his first games, with David Carry presenting the medal to James for the 400 freestyle. Michael Jamieson narrowly missed out on Commonwealth Gold to fellow Scot Ross Murdoch. Both boys are now ranked number 1 and 2 in the world! Craig Benson finished his 100 breastroke in 4th place, not a medal but a very encouraging performance from Craig and great to see him back in international finals. Hannah Miley showed the Commonwealth who was boss and stormed past everyone in the first final of the Games to regain her 400 IM title. The roof at Tollcross nearly blew off with the crowd screaming for Hannah in the closing stages of the race. At the diving venue in Edinburgh we had Grace Reid finishing 5th in the 1 and 9th in the 3 meter springboard finals. A very promising performance from the 17 year old. 

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The brilliant duo of Neil Fachie and Craig McClain sealed their places in history as Double Commonwealth Champions in the men’s tandem; outstanding performances. Katie Archibald made her mark on the Scottish cycling team with a bronze medal in the Women’s 25km Points Race. Katie is only 20 years old and showed real character in the time trial to finish 5th but had an even more impressive performance in the road race where the young athlete kept with the lead pack for most of the road race to finish 6th. Callum Skinner made a final in his event. 

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Husband and wife judoka’s Euan Burton and Gemma Gibbons both hoped for gold in their categories. Gemma coming back from an injury, a solid performance to win Silver medal in the Woman’s -78kg category. Euan knew that this was going to be his last competition and would retire from the sport after these Games no matter what the outcome. Euan was fighting 8kg’s light. However, you wouldn’t have been able to tell as he dominated all of his opponents to win a spectacular Gold medal. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house during his medal ceremony as you could see the emotion on his face at what that last fight meant to him. 

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Guy Learmonth and Eilish McColgan were competing at Hamden in the athletics. Both putting on great performances and both through to finals in their main events. A great place to be two years out from the Rio Olympics.  

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The number one ranked team New Zealand lost out to South Africa in the final, proved that the 7’s game can go any way. The Scotland team played well but were beaten by the Kiwi’s in their semi-final match. Richie Vernon, Mark Bennett and Captain Colin Gregor played well but just couldn’t beat the very strong New Zealand team. 

Some truly spectacular performances from #teamredsky athletes at the 20th Commonwealth Games. My performer of the Games was Hannah Miley with not only her Gold and Bronze medal, Hannah also did 7 finals and did numerous personal best times. My performance of the Games though goes to Neil Fachie becoming double Commonwealth Champion. All those amazing performances contributed to Red Sky being places 11th on the medal table. 

Keri-anne Payne

Luke Patience: European Champions 5 months after teaming up

Luke Patience: European Champions 5 months after teaming up

In the historical Athens, and the acropolis looking over the city and race courses made for a pretty awesome setting. Steeped in Olympic history, we are very lucky to visit these places.

The conditions we knew Athens would produce made for a long, drawn out and tough regatta. With everyone of the world fleet present, we started the week controlled and with our feet on the ground to do the simple things well, to give ourselves a chance.

Some of the more satisfying victories come in a controlled way where you slowly, but surely, grind away at each of our 11 races over 6 days, and watch as one by one your competitors fall away at your heals. We were very proactive in creating the correct frame of mind each day to allow ourselves to focus on each moment of each race. In hot and light climates, concentration plays a big part. Usually the benefit of this frame of mind comes right at the end of the week when you race unhindered by the relentless fight and want it as much as you did on race 1.

I love the fight! And through our patience, the penultimate day came along and we found our finest form of the week that day. The boat was on fire and everything felt in sync. Elliot and I were as slick as we could hope to be together and the damage we put on the points board was my biggest to date. 30 points clear of next euro boat and European champions with a day to spare came on that day. All controlled, all planned and most importantly – executed.

After 5 months in the boat together this was a massive moment for us. Its actually come at the beginning of an intense period where we have a test event in Rio and our world champs in September. There’s no better way to create honest feedback of how well you’re going than to produce your best performance and find what is helping you and hindering you.

I hope we have given our competitors something to think about, we are just getting started…

Luke Patience

Double World Champion Keri-anne Payne shares the athlete journey at Glasgow 2014

Double World Champion Keri-anne Payne shares the athlete journey at Glasgow 2014

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The Commonwealth games is dubbed the Friendly games. In reality athletes have fought, trained and worked hard for years to qualify for their country and to earn their team track suits. Competing in Glasgow athletes are not just competing as individuals but for their teams and their countries. The Commonwealth Games are a great opportunity to meet new people and to size up all your competitors walking around the same village. I’m not competing this year, my focus is on the Olympic Games in Rio in two years time but I couldn’t help going into the village to see what the athletes will be doing and give you an insight into how life will run in The Athletes Village.

Stepping into the village for the first time as an athlete is a mix of emotions. Excitement because everything is new and different and nervousness because the competition is almost here!  Athletes are welcomed into the village by the Village Chieftain and the National Youth Theatre who put on a brilliant show to mark the journey of the Commonwealth spirit. I got the chance to see a few of these ceremonies while my husband, David Carry was Village Chieftain. At this point every athlete is filled with confidence and anticipation for the next two weeks.

 

Glasgow Green

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As the athletes arrive into the village they are greeted by the Glasgow green. A big green space that is the centre of the village. Around the green is the dining hall, transport centre, gym and the polyclinic. Having facilities like this ensure that every athlete is well looked after so they can perform at their best during the Games. Volunteers, workforce and athletes all enjoy the green space with benches, mats and sun loungers. At the heart of the green is a fabulous statue of ‘Nessie’ the Loch Ness monster. Made from Scottish stone and designed by Scottish artist, Stuart Murdoch. It is a real serene place that I would spend a lot of time in if I was competing at the Commonwealth Games. This also shows how much Glasgow 2014 has made these Games a Scottish experience.

Main Dining

DINING

From the green you can access the real hub of the village, the dining hall. Athletes and staff will spend a huge amount of time in here. Trying to force food down when your stomach is in knots before your race. I loved the dining hall it’s a place to refuel but also to see friends and a chance to get away from the stresses of the competition. The organisers have done a really good job with the catering and there is almost everything you can imagine on offer including a gluten free section for athletes with allergies. There is also a nutritionist there so you can plan what you eat during the competition.

Friends and Family

MERCH

The village has an ‘international zone’ where athletes parents and friends can come and visit. This is a really nice touch for the ‘friendly games’ so athletes can see their loved ones that have traveled miles to watch them compete. In the international zone there is a salon for athletes to get a little pampered. There’s a bar and a cafe so athletes can relax with their friends and family. There is a merchandise store so you can get all the momentous, a post office to send letters off to the family and there is even a salon in the village.  While I was in the village I even had a chance to sample the salon and went for a diplomatic manicure to support both of the teams close to my heart.

Home

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The team accommodation blocks are the heart of each team. You know that this is where you’ll be lying trying to fall asleep the night before your big race. Each team decorates their own blocks, giving you a real sense of pride. Team Scotland have gone crazy with the bunting on Scotland street and it looks great! The England camp is called ‘The Lion’s Den’  and looks really impressive. Walking up to the Team England camp I was filled with disappointment that I wasn’t going to be wearing the kit or competing for England at this Commonwealth Games. However after spending some time there and chatting to a few members of the team I remembered why I chose not to compete this season and realised that I had made the right choice not to compete and keep my focus on the Rio Olympics in 2016. I am so ready and eager to start with my preparations next month. I am really glad that I came into the village to see what it was like and experience the atmosphere because it’s really inspired and motivated me more than ever to make sure that I get to Rio!

Double World Champion’s Journey to G2014

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With only a handful of major competitions for the Paralympic Track cyclists since the London 2012 games, the 2014 World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico in April held extra importance.  It the first qualifying event towards the Rio Games of 2016 and it was also the first opportunity to see how we compared against the rest of the world.  It would also be the first time that I raced internationally with new up-and-coming pilot Pete Mitchell.

There’s always several challenges competing at the World Champions, the main this time being the conditions in Mexico would be unlike anything we had raced in before.  The velodrome is based at a moderate altitude, which means that bikes would travel a little bit faster due to the thinner air, but there would be less oxygen to breathe, coupled with the fact that the velodrome would reach temperatures as high as 43 degrees centigrade, not ideal!

To prepare for this I spent the 5 weeks prior to travelling to Mexico sleeping in an altitude tent mimicking the oxygen levels at various altitudes.  Sleeping in there enabled my body to get used to coping with reduced oxygen and so when we got there I was able to adapt much quicker.

All this targeted preparation and a very tough and consistent training regime paid off as we not only won both of our events, the 1km Time Trial and the Match Sprint, but we also broke both world records.  Even more amazing is that we went under two major barriers, achieving two of my main ambitions in cycling.  Breaking the 1 minute barrier for the 1km Time Trial, and breaking the 10 second barrier for the flying 200m.

It is always tough to reset your goals after an achievement like this, it can be tough to get back into the swing of things, fortunately for me, I have the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to look forward to. I achieved the qualifying time for the Games with Scottish pilot Craig Maclean in November of last year and so it means we can now solely focus on peaking for the event.  We will have some very stiff competition in Glasgow and so we need to be at the top of our game if we are to succeed, but if all goes to plan we will be challenging for the win in both events.

I am really excited about competing in front of a home crowd again.  The London Paralympics was an amazing experience and I feel incredibly fortunate to have competed at a home Paralympics with a home Commonwealth Games following on just 2 years later.  Fingers crossed all the preparation will have been worth it!

Neil Fachie

Luke Patience: A New Moon

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I have just arrived back from our world tour stop no. 2 in Palma Mallorca, and I write this in my wee apartment looking over the British Olympic waters in Weymouth. It’s always a very reflective time in the first few days post racing as we have fought hard for a week, it’s tiring and the hustle and bustle just suddenly stops when you arrive home as if it never happened. Meanwhile, the circus moves to the next venue and we do it all again!

Having recently teamed up with an old friend and competitor Elliot Willis, Palma was our first competition together. We chucked ourselves in at the deep end considering how little time we have trained together, but I love that. If it doesn’t mean something big then it’s rarely worth it in my eyes. I wish it was race day every day.

I am really encouraged at our first outing. I feel we have gelled seamlessly from our previous teammates and we understand each other from the off. It’s a funny thing jumping in a tiny wee race boat together. Although it was a new experience it just flowed from the off. I think being good friends, and more importantly having competed against each other, has allowed us to understand one another to a level which I don’t think you could create otherwise. It’s one of our biggest strengths as a team.

We race two races a day for six days. There are around 100 boats that follow the tour throughout the year and we are constantly battling every minute of every race to win, oh and our engine is invisible – the wind! Its one of the most challenging sports with all the variables I could think of thrown in, so training time is crucial. We are trying to replicate all the scenarios we may face in racing and attempt to make them realistic. Underlying through all that we develop our equipment (like a formula one car) to be the fastest boat on the water. The faster you are, the fewer risks you need to take tactically.

I’m really enthusiastic and inspired by what lies ahead. Having now raced together and got the ball rolling I am confident to say that our goal is firmly World Championship medals come this September. I’m not saying gold yet, it’s not currently necessary, but we will be at the front of the fleet doing all we can to be the hardest boat to beat on the water. We were so close to that statement this time round in Palma, so giving time to train specifically will bring us even closer.

For now, it’s the time to focus on all the small details within our road map. Securing the marginal gains will put the goal in healthy place, we need not worry about that. Next stop is Hyeres in the south of France for world cup no. 3 in two weeks time. Bring it on, I cant wait…

Luke Patience

Nick De Luca: Now it’s my chance

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After 8 years of playing professional rugby in Scotland, I am now entering a significant and exciting new stage in my career and find myself reflecting upon the journey so far. In 2005 I began training with Edinburgh Rugby, and had a year with Borders Rugby before moving back to the capital city, where I have been ever since. In the last 7 years I have seen much change, but primarily I have made great friends for life and I have settled with Edinburgh as my home – something that I doubt will ever change. This is the city where I bought my first house, where my daughter was born, and where my family live. I have always felt a great attachment to Edinburgh Rugby and have a sense of loyalty towards the fans and the club that will remain. With a club like Edinburgh Rugby, you get to know the fans by first name, you meet their children and you have a drink with them at the bar. I will always be grateful for their support.

My time with Edinburgh rugby has seen some great highs for me personally. It is here that I have learnt my rugby, I have been coached by some greats, and have played alongside, and opposite, some legends of the game. Many of these inspiring people I am proud to call friends. I have made 125 appearances for my club, one of the most memorable being reaching the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup in 2012 – the same week that my daughter was born. That was an emotional game! Working at Murrayfield has also given me the chance to meet the likes of Gerard Butler, Chris Hoy and Sam Torrance! The stability of being with one club has also allowed me to begin a Masters, so I will be taking my studying with me to France.

Whilst I have not switched clubs since the Borders, I am really excited by the opportunity to move to the south of France. I like an adventure, and the chance to live in a foreign country, to learn a new language and to immerse myself in a new culture is tantalizing. As part of my age grade rugby I scored a try in the U19s Six Nations in France against the home team. I then played U19s World Cup there and was incredibly impressed at the passion for the game and the inspiration that the players are to young children. This sparked a desire in me to one day play over there, and now is my chance. Biarritz Olympique is a huge part of the town’s identity and they take their rugby seriously – the history of the club is amazing. I currently feel that I am playing some of the best rugby of my career this season and my personal aspiration in Biarritz is to help the team back into the Top 14 and be an ambassador for both the club and the sport.

Nick De Luca

Sean Cox: Capital Switch

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I made my first ‘switch’ between professional rugby clubs in the summer 2011. Having been at Sale Sharks for seven seasons, you can imagine I felt like I was stepping into the unknown and leaving behind my ‘comforts’ moving up to Edinburgh rugby! From missing my favourite coffee shops, to missing seeing my family most weekends I wasn’t sure how easy the transition was going to be.

However, my time in Edinburgh couldn’t have surprised me more. The move has rewarded me with lots of game time and some amazing experiences on the field. The highlight being the Heineken Cup run to the semi-finals in my first season with the club, including the quarter final in front of a club record crowd of 37,000 fans! Off the field I have also had the chance to dabble in a secret passion of mine, property development. I completed a full renovation of a grade II listed apartment within the heart of the city, which along with getting married at the same time, definitely made Edinburgh feel like home. I am very thankful for the opportunity given to me by Edinburgh Rugby three years ago and hope I have gone someway to repaying the club on the field.

However, three years later, I am now due to make my second move to London Irish this summer! Although I am much more relaxed this time around, having been through the process before, ‘starting again’ within a new environment is both daunting and exciting in near equal measure! However, if I have learnt anything from my first move, it’s to look forward, as there’s guaranteed to be some adventures on the way!

With the upcoming move back into the Premiership, I feel I am returning a better player and a much more rounded professional. I have had the opportunity to captain Edinburgh Rugby on numerous occasions which is invaluable experience for me moving forward. I am incredibly excited about the challenges that lie ahead on the field and am looking forward to meeting the lads and getting stuck into pre season at my new club.

With Red Sky being based in Edinburgh, my time north of the border has enabled me to work closely with them on my double career track, keeping half an eye on ‘life after rugby’ – a real job! Knowing that my second career is ticking over in the background, allows me too focus on being a better professional rugby player, without having to worry about what comes next. This peace of mind can only help me as I plan too make my ‘capital switch’.

Sean Cox