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Jo Butterfield Reflects on A VICTORIOUS PARALYMPIC GAMES

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It’s been over a week since all of the Paralympics GB team including myself arrived back on home soil, but what I have achieved still hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s hard to take it in if I’m being honest; it is the pinnacle of everything we’ve been working towards.

It’s just the end of a lot of hard work. My life changed five years ago and then the last two years have been about doing all that I can to get to Rio.

I’m relieved I was able to deliver the goods when it mattered out there in Rio. To be able to do myself proud, my family proud and my coaches proud is just the best feeling in the world.

It could have played out so differently as well when I got injured just two days after arriving to the holding camp in Belo. Me being me, I always want to be in control and independent and I find it really hard to take a step back and lose some of that control. It happened at an awkward time, but I kept reminding myself that I came here in the best shape I could, and then I had to put my trust into the medical team. I had to put my body in their hands, and trust them completely. They were amazing help and without them I would not have been able to compete. They got me to that start line, and helped me be in a position where I knew I could produce to the best of my ability.

I don’t think I’ve had enough time to sit down and reflect fully on what I have achieved. I had a little bit of time before I competed in the discus competition; I knew I didn’t have the same chance in the discus. The other girls are much better than me, and that’s something that I’ll work on. But it gave me the chance to enjoy it in a different way. I was able to take stock and think “I’m at a Paralympic Games; I want to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the crowd as much as possible.” And that allowed me to take the pressure off myself and enjoy the situation. I was able to go out there with a smile on my face without the demand of getting a gold medal.

Being a part of the Paralympics was unlike any other major competition I’ve attended. The whole experience was everything I expected and more. The multi- sport aspect of it I liked. You can wander through the park and see people in the same kit and it feels like a big team. I have had lots of people congratulate me from different sports I’ve never seen or heard of before, and I’m thinking “how do they know me?”, but it’s nice. It’s a very encouraging feeling.

It was even more enjoyable that my flatmates in the village had successes of their own. Me and Georgie (Hermitage) get on great and she smashed it, it was fair to say our room was a buoyant one.  We also had Hollie Arnold in our room, so we had four gold medals and four world records!

It’s great to see all of the team performing well, as the standard of competition gets better.  The thing we need to remember is that it is still a growing sport, it’s still evolving. London 2012 put it on the map and it continues to get better and better. Every event is getting harder.  On day four of the Paralympics here we surpassed the amount of medals we achieved in London. The times are getting quicker, the distances further and that is just going to continue. British athletes are still on top and that’s a really encouraging thing.

It’s the same for my main event the club throw, and if this experience has done anything it has made me more determined than ever to continue striving for better. Before my injury trouble I had two sessions in Belo and I was throwing further than I ever have before so I know there is more there, and I’m still really new to the sport. I have a lot to tweak and test, certainly with the discus but also with the club also. There’s massive room for improvement in both which is encouraging.

Our focus now turns to 2017 and preparing as best we can for London 2017. I have had a brief taste of the London stadium when I competed at the Anniversary Games, and the British crowd is the best crowd you could ever compete in front of. It’s not just us that say that, the rest of the other countries say the same. To be able to come back to London and compete in that stadium in front of a home crowd and defend my title will be amazing.

Thank you all so much for your continued support, it means everything to me and I really couldn’t have done it without all the good luck messages and encouragement! I think I’m due a few days off, but I’ll be back training in a few weeks trying harder than ever as we approach London 2017.