Once again I was extremely lucky to be invited to the annual London Sports Awards. This time I was a judge on the panel selecting the winners across grassroots sports categories including the workforce award, volunteer of the year, club of the year and many others. It really was a tough job to decide between so many deserving applications. Sport in London is going from strength to strength, bringing communities together, getting people active and showing the value of sport in improving social connectedness.
I met many people at the start of my swimming career, before I was a funded athlete competing internationally. Sport was my way to manage my stress levels and it quickly became a social activity more than anything else. I treasure the friendships that I have made in the pool which continue to this day. The medals and the wins are not the whole picture. The friendships and the journey, the volunteers that sacrifice their time to help others, those are the people that equally deserve praise. I still owe a huge amount to my coaches, including Keith Morgan at Crystal Palace weightlifting gym. He coached me to six Paralympic medals and did so voluntarily. It is people like him who are the heartbeat of sport and hopefully some of the winners at the recent London Sports Awards will feel that their hard work has been recognised. To all those who did not win, you deserve just as much praise for all the work you do. Keep it up and remember that everything you do is valuable.