So tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from?
My name is Susie Rodgers. I’m from the UK, I live in London, work for the British Council, and I’m also a swimmer and I’ve just been selected to represent this country as a Paralympic swimmer in the 2012 Games.
OK, great, so you’re on the Paralympic swimming team. Can you tell us which events you are going to be representing Great Britain in?
I swim in the S7 category and I’m going to be entering five events which will be the fifty, hundred and four hundred freestyle, the fifty metres butterfly and the hundred metres backstroke.
What’s your best event?
I couldn’t really say. I think in each competition I seem to make improvements in the different strokes as I go along, so I wouldn’t really say that there’s one in particular, but I really enjoy swimming the butterfly.
When did you start swimming and when did you start swimming competitively?
I started swimming when I was six years old but I didn’t really train as a child. I got into training when I went to university in Newcastle and I started to compete then, but I had a bit of a break whilst I was developing my career so I came back into it in 2009.
Were you good at any other sports?
No, not really. I mean, I’ve always loved swimming and with my disability it’s the best sport for me. I couldn’t really be a runner or do athletics. I really like swimming. I like playing tennis but I’m not as good at that.
What’s your typical training day like as a Paralympian?
It varies really, depending on the day. I can either do two sessions in the swimming pool or do just one. I also do weight training as well to complement the swimming.
How does the weight training help?
It just gets you to build up different muscle groups, and also cross training is quite good when you’re an athlete.
Do you have to eat anything special?
I eat a lot of carbohydrate-based foods so things like potatoes, rice, pasta which are really good for energy. I also eat a lot of protein, so it’s just a balanced diet really.
So, you wouldn’t eat a lot more than a normal person would you?
Yeah, probably. I tend to eat little and often, so quite a lot of snack meals throughout the day rather than three main meals.
Is there anything that you really shouldn’t eat but you do anyway?
I love chocolate, so I do occasionally slip with the chocolate but, you know, a treat once in a while is okay.
Is there anything that you’re absolutely not allowed to have while you’re training?
There’s nothing you’re not allowed to have, but obviously you want to avoid processed food, things like hamburgers, where you don’t really know where the ingredients have come from.
Recently, you swam at the IPC European Championships in Berlin. That was in July last year and you did very well. Can you tell us about that?
I got five golds there and a silver which was quite unexpected to be honest. It was my first international competition and I wanted to make the team, but my ultimate goal has always been to get on the team for 2012. So, I just went along to the European championships and I didn’t really have big expectations and then it just went really well, the whole event for me so yeah, it was a brilliant experience.
So, were you genuinely surprised?
Genuinely surprised, yeah. Obviously I’d done the hard work but you just never know until you get there.
How many events were you entered for?
Five, plus I was part of the relay team as well.
How optimistic are you that you will be able to win some medals this time round in London?
Well, it’s very hard to say. I think because last year was European level and this year it’s world level and I’ve never raced world level before. There’s a lot more competition out there, so I’m not really saying I’m going to get anything yet, I’m just going to try my best.
This is your last week working in the British Council before you leave to concentrate full time on training. What will you be doing during that training period?
It allows more time for rest, and also not having to kind of commute across London is going to be quite nice, but I will really miss the work because I love the people here. That’s why it’s nice to know that I’ll be coming back at some point in October after the Games.
What will your life be like after the Games?
I really don’t know, it’s almost a bit dreamlike. I don’t think you can prepare yourself for it and the people I know on the team who went to Beijing have said that it can be quite life-changing.
Finally, which Olympic and Paralympic swimmers do you most admire and why?
Well, I really admire my team mates. They all did really well in Beijing but particularly Ellie Simmons who won two golds and Liz Johnson who won gold, Sam Hynd. I have a lot of respect for everyone on the team. For Olympic athletes, I think Rebecca Adlington did really well, and she’s probably going to do really well this year. I’ve watched her swim up close and she’s got a fantastic stroke so she’s always a pleasure to watch in the water.
Thanks very much and good luck!
Tony: Excuse me, we have tickets for the athletics this afternoon – where do we need to go?
Steward: Can I see your tickets? Oh yes, that’s the North Stand – you want Block 205.
Tony: OK. Thanks. How do we get to that?
Steward: Just follow that path for about 200 metres. You should see the sign for Block 205. Please then use the lift to travel to Level 2.
Ticket attendant: ... Tickets, please.
Tony: Here you are.
Ticket attendant: Seats C32 and 33. Follow the signs to the lift and get off at Level 2.
Tony: Where can we get something to drink?
Ticket attendant: There’s a stall over there with soft drinks and snacks.
Tony: Thank you.
Max: …Hi there – a sparkling mineral water, please. What can I get you, Tony?
Tony: Orange juice for me. Do you need some money?
Max: No, it’s my treat. And one orange juice, please.
Vendor: Three pounds, please.
Tony: Right, here’s the lift. Here we are. Level 2. Seats 32 and 33. What a great view!
Max: Fantastic! I’m really looking forward to this!
London has a number of important venues for both sport and other entertainment such as music, including Wembley Stadium with a capacity of 90,000 and the North Greenwich Arena with up to 20,000.
If you looked up ‘spotting’ in the dictionary, you would usually see explanations connected with ‘seeing’ and ‘raining’. However, ‘spotting’ in weightlifting is different and it means supporting another person during a weightlifting exercise. It is particularly common, and recommended, when doing the bench press, which is the type of weightlifting done in Powerlifting. This is because of the risks of lifting a heavy weight while lying on your back.
Spotting takes place during both training and competition. In training, the emphasis is on helping the athlete lift more than he could normally do. Correct spotting involves knowing when to help with a lift, and encouraging your training partner.
In competition, the role of the spotter is very important. The athlete may request the help of the spotters when removing the bar from the racks. Of course there is the obvious role of catching the bar in the event of an accident to prevent injury.
But the spotter cannot help the athlete in any way to lift the weight. From the moment the referee gives the signal ‘start’, to the moment he gives the signal ‘rack’, the competitor will be disqualified if the spotter touches the bar.
In both training and competition, good spotting involves knowing exactly when you should or should not intervene.
It’s a beautiful part of South West Wales and it’s clean, it’s quiet. There’s so much going for it and I love it. The views when the sun is shining, you can see for miles and miles and that’s the beauty of riding the bike, it’s not always fitness, it’s the beauty of the place.
(I was a) happily married man, three children, living a very happy average life and then I suddenly discovered that I had two malignant brain tumours and that was in May 2008, but then sadly in August 2008 I had another problem when my left foot went cold, and sadly I lost my left leg below the knee due to rare side effects of the brain cancer. Then I had to make a decision in my life to challenge this or to lie down and not challenge it and I chose to stand up and fight.
You learn a lot of truths about yourself, you learn a lot about your personality and also you learn a lot about yourself physically. When you’ve had a challenge in life that is life-threatening you have a new perspective of life and I realised with the cycling that there was a competitive edge to me which perhaps came from my determination to survive, to survive this illness, to survive the loss of the leg, to show others what you can achieve and what you can overcome.
When I took cycling up I could hardly get up the smallest hill and I thought to myself, make a decision and that decision was ‘yes – let’s overcome this hurdle’ turning all obstacles into positives. Cycling is now massive to me, it’s really important, I mean family is number one, will always be important but the cycling is second, it’s given me focus, it’s given me life, it’s given me ambition. I’d be doing things that I wouldn’t have dreamt of before, I probably wouldn’t have done before losing a leg and having brain cancer.
Deloitte Parasport has opened huge doors for me, they’ve given me a chance. If it wasn’t for Deloitte Parasport, I’d be ignorant to what’s out in the outside world to do with cycling. It is a freedom that I didn’t have before. This is the pluses I have taken out of my illnesses. For me to get the inspiration to do this, I looked at my family and (was) thinking, I want to keep looking at this family and learning that if I was to pursue the cycling more for my health then my future looks brighter.