It was 6 years ago this month that I started playing wheelchair basketball, and I guess the question I have to ask myself is: "am I where I thought I'd be?"
It's weird because if you'd asked me at 15 when I'd just started playing, I would've thought that I've more than achieved the goals I set for myself along the way. I mean, at 21 medalling in two junior Europeans, representing GB in a tour of Australia and Israel whilst also playing in the BT Paralympics World Cup and a few other friendly tournaments all over Europe, how could I possibly not be happy?
Well, don't get me wrong - I'm proud of what I've done, but as my relatively short career has progressed, I'm definitely disappointed that I haven't cemented my place in that GB team yet.
So what happened? In 2009 things seemed to just stall a little and my progress seemed to level off for a while. It's a slap in the face as you hit that invisible wall. Then just when things started going right again I hit another speed bump and a pretty big one at that. For much of 2010 I battled with a shoulder injury which often forced me to miss training sessions. It eventually resulted in me having a major operation on my shoulder to fix my labrum as well as my bicep tendon, both of which had torn.
Despite this injury I managed to play in my last junior Europeans in Italy and came away with a silver medal. Unknown to most, though, I was in fact playing with a rather poorly shoulder and lifting my arm to shoot meant I actually lost feeling in my whole arm. This didn't help with the image people had of me (that I hadn't improved my level of performance in recent times) and when people have an opinion of you it's generally hard to shift. In essence the injury meant 3 or 4 months out, but this doesn't really reflect how my shoulder really was. In truth I would say it has only been in the last month or so that my shoulder has got back its full strength, and that's after 10 months. Unfortunately, though, the matter doesn't rest there, as it looks like I'll have to have another operation after the 2012 Paralympics, albeit less serious.
So after all this, let's get back to the original question, am I where I wanted to be after 6 years?
Yes, I think in the past 6 years I've achieved a lot, I've got a lot to be proud of but having said that, I've got a lot more to achieve. I set myself some tough goals, I put that bar high, but it's something I'm going to work extremely hard to achieve. I'm going to do everything I physically can to push my name to the forefront of the coach's mind when it comes to naming his team.
My road to London 2012 may not be the most direct or smoothest road ever taken, but it's still gotta be better than taking the M25!
Don't forget, if any of you have any questions for me please email to me here with the subject 'Q&A' or leave a message on Papworth Trust's Facebook wall (you need to 'like' it first), and I'll try to answer as many as possible next time.