A day in the life of an athlete – Charlotte Cox

This is a guest blog from Charlotte. She is a World Champion and World Record holder in many different athletics events. We asked Charlotte to tell us a bit about how she prepares for her events and her experience at the IAADS European Championships in Finland…

I like to make sure I am prepared, organised, calm and well rested. Today is a competition day I have the Multi-Event (100m, Long jump and 3kg Shot) this evening.

So I am up and ready to go to breakfast at 8.00am, today I have orange juice and scrambled eggs, and as we are in Finland we are given lots of fish.

Back to my room and I pack my kit bag, 2 pairs of spikes, change of socks (the sand from the long jump pit is annoying so I pack a change of socks), I will also have in my bag my sun cream, hat and water, together with a healthy snack, (nuts and bananas are my favourite) and equipment I might need later, spare spikes, measuring tape, Long jump marker. I leave with the bag my competition vest and shorts, my vest is pinned up with my number, which at this competition is No 15 and my identity lanyard, ready to put on later.

We are not going to the track until 16.30, so I take a walk from our hotel into Tampere, to see some of the city centre, I drink lots of water to keep hydrated as Finland is having a record breaking heatwave (36 degrees), the walk into town is about 20 mins away so I walk briskly so I get a gentle workout, also enjoying a light fish Salad with Pasta for lunch.

Returning to the hotel about 14.30 I take a rest and just chill out listening to some music, it’s so calm I actually doze off!

15.30 I am getting ready, kit on, hair up and ready to head off, again drinking lots of water to keep hydrated, I head to the bus with the rest of the GB team, we greet the other teams, but I try and keep focused on my events.  We arrive at the stadium the first thing I do is get my bearings, sort out a seat in the shade, find the toilets and work out where the call room is and what the call time is (at this competition we have to be in the call room 20 minutes before the event).

About an hour before my event I do some warm ups, it is still very hot even at 16.30, keeping hydrated is key. While I am waiting for my events I like to watch the other athletes compete, we all know each other from many other competitions. Today my first event is the 100m, so I head to the call room carrying my spike and water, once checked in you sit and wait, I put my spikes on while I am waiting do some stretches and on the way out to the track make sure everything is comfortable and make any last minute adjustments to laces etc.  We walk out in lane order so when we get to the start we already know what lane we are in.  As I make my way to lane 1 my coach helps me set up my starting blocks, it is the only time the coach is allowed to go on the track near the athletes, once set up they have to leave. I do a couple of practices and then ready to go! The starter says “on you marks” I go down into the blocks making sure my hands are behind the start line, he then says “Set” and I raise up and listen for the starting gun, “Bang” and off we go, I had a good race winning in a time of 15.97.

There seems little time to recover from the 100m, when we are taken over to the Long jump pit, here I measure out my starting point, which for me is 90 pigeon steps, so I walk this out and put my marker on the point, I then do a couple of practices jumps to make sure it’s good and I am not over the line, we get to do 3 Jumps and our best distance is the one recorded. We sit in the shade, Its still very hot so I keep sipping my water and have some banana/nuts too! Today my best jump is 2.85 which I am pleased with.  Lots going on around me other events I am not in, so I try and see how they are going, having finished the Long jump the final event for the Multi-event is the 3kg shot, this is my weakest event. I do 3 practice puts, then take my place in line, my best put is 4.05, its enough to give me overall Multi-event points of 1925, which secures me my first gold medal of this competition.

Thats me done for the day, I take my water and bag and head to the stands, have more water and snacks and watch the rest of the competition, medal presentation is tomorrow.

After the final event of the evening the bus takes us back to the hotel for dinner, no time to shower its getting late, but here in Finland it is still very light so a little confusing, we are taken straight into dinner for fish and pasta, some conversations with the other teams but we are all pretty tired so back to room for shower and bed, I look out of my bedroom window and it looks like 7.00pm in England its actually 10.30pm, I draw the curtains to keep the light out and quickly drift off to sleep, wondering what tomorrow’s competition will bring…………….

A huge thank you to Charlotte for her guest blog and well done on her achievements! Do you have a story to tell us? If so, we would like to hear from you. Please email dsactive@downs-syndrome.org.uk to tell us about it.