Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Moment is Now


The moment has nearly arrived. A moment, which seemingly forever has been one solely set in the future. A mere motivation lacking the conviction of reality. However, it has now reached the forefront of the present, the moment is now.

On 11th September, as I toe the start line in Rio for the 2016 Paralympic Games, I will be realising a lifelong dream. A dream born many years before, shaped by my learning of the legendary tales of Australia’s sporting heroes and my passionate desire to one day be like them.

I’ve worked hard, I've run countless kilometres since I begun training three years ago, always pushing in the hope that Rio 2016 would happen. Now it is happening, it is a reality.

Rio 2016, is the first major step in what I plan will be a long and fruitful career. I can’t wait to get started, to perform at my best on the world stage.

I’m Ready.    



I will provide times and dates as well as ways to watch my race a little closer to the event!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Limitations; Do they define us?


 
The definition of the word limitation can be derived from its synonyms; restriction, impediment, constraint and barrier included. To put it more simply, the word limitation, in the context of human ability, is what we cannot do.

Something that I cannot do, which frequent visitors to my blog would know, is see with the clarity of a normally sighted person. This in terms of my ability is a limitation, or in technical terms my disability. This inability to see restricts me in certain areas of life; like driving a car or recognising distant objects. Yet, in the rest of my life it is a minor speed bump, an imperfection which I refuse to let negatively impact my pathway into the future.

I was inspired to write this piece during an interview with Monash University student Ashleigh Paholek, when she posed the thought provoking question, asking whether or not I thought my disability defined me.

For me, this was quite an intricate question. The reason being that my disability has grown to be a part of me and something I have learnt to embrace. It is something that without, I would find myself a completely different person.

So does it define me? It has definitely helped shape who I am, but in terms of defining me, I think not.

Defining purely on limitations and inabilities is an endeavour which would only prosper in a world where a negative is held at a higher value than a positive. In other words, a world where opposite is reality or more simply a world which does not exist.

Instead I define myself first and foremost as a family member, a friend, an active member of the community, a runner and a student. Just like any other noun, whether it be an animal, a plant or a city I define myself by what is most important and that to me is what I can do. Doing any different would leave the true facts and pivotal descriptions undescribed and undefined.

Thus, in life we should make certain the fact that we are all defined not by our disabilities, our imperfections or especially our limitations but instead by our abilities. As not doing so, would be serving an injustice to the things that truly make you the person you are, that being you’re talents and what you hold most dear.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Crunch Time; Chasing Seconds


I have been actively training in my sport for just over three years now, with everything going into the year of 2016. Now 2016 is no longer the future, it is the present and the surreal reality is sinking in, its crunch time.

I came into the year with high hopes and low expectations. To even be in contention for a berth in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, I faced the daunting challenge of having to shave 13 seconds off my previous best time for 1500m and run 4:00.76.

My chances of qualification were slim, and the prospect of running my first 1500m in nearly twelve months was looming. My goals for the season were no longer quite along the lines of ‘qualify for Rio’ but a more subtle take of ‘just run as fast as I can’ and thus the year of 2016 began.

Beginning the year on the mountain of Falls Creek was paramount to the events that followed. Clocking close to 200km for the stay, my body was ready to take on the challenge of “running as fast I can”, whether I could actually do it, was another thing.

However, three races into the year and my whole outlook on 2016 has changed. Rio is now firmly set in my sights and qualifying is looking more and more likely each time I run.

It started with a 14 second PB, clocking 3:59.6 in an evenly paced race achieving my first Paralympic Qualifier. Then three days later another second was gone, a 3:58.47 in a last lap kick down was enough to ignite a new found motivation. The ‘A’ Qualifier of 3:56.26.

Last week, I went up to Canberra to run in the ACT Championships in a hope of making that motivation reality. However, it was not to be, complications with the start list meant that I was facing the challenge of virtually time trialling the race. Three and three-quarter laps later and I was 0.16 seconds closer to my goal, running a time of 3:58.31.

I left Canberra with mixed emotions, I’d run one of the better races in my short career, let alone a time that only two weeks ago would have made me over the moon with. It was more the fact that I knew, in the right race, I could have run faster.

In a sport where mere milliseconds can define so much, it is easy to be left wanting more. Yet, this ‘curse’ is a blessing in disguise, a fuel to ignite the flame of determination and a driving force behind the courage, dedication and sheer will that when combined, enables one to turn dreams to reality.

With the clock counting down towards the height of the season, I’m definitely left wanting more. That more being the ‘A’ qualifier a ticket on the plane to Rio.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016 By Jaryd Clifford


The Socceroos campaign at the 2006 World Cup has justly gone down as one of Australia’s greatest sporting moments. The heart stopping comeback against Japan, the riveting heroics against Croatia and the heartbreak against Italy led Australian sports fans on a rollercoaster of tremendous highs and devastating lows.

Why am I talking about this? Well, I was one of those sports fans, but it was also my first experience of the demanding yet rewarding world of elite sport. As a six year old it was hard to understand why a single mistake in the dying seconds of the match against Italy could define four years of hard work. However, I did understand one thing. I understood that there was one thing in the world that I wanted more than anything else. To represent Australia on the international stage.

My fierce desire and unrelenting determination to achieve my dream led me through multiple sports and many an uncertain moment. Yet, nine years later, the year 2015 changed everything and not just enabled me to realise my dreams but also to gain an insightful intake into what I’ll have to do to take that next step and become a World Champion.

2015 saw me take on many first time challenges; training at altitude in Falls Creek, racing new distances and travelling overseas for the first time in my life. There were also many challenges that were met again; the increasingly challenging tactic of pack running along with the ability to manage both training and race loads just to name a few.

Early January played host to the occupation of Falls Creek by the nation’s top distance runners, this was both an invaluable and beneficial experience that set me up for my first crack at a 5000m on the track in search for a World Championships Qualifier.

A debut performance of 16:21 in Bendigo was good enough to secure the standard, and only a few weeks later that time was improved to 16:15.

Then came the close to the summer season and the long and torturous wait for Australian selection began. During this time I traversed the 10km distance for the first time in an unexpectedly quick 32:25.

A few months later I was privileged enough to score a national title win at the Cross Country Championships on home soil in front of family and friends.

A few weeks later, at school, I received the call that I was selected to represent Australia at the IPC World Championships. And after nine long years of hoping, my dreams were literally coming true.

Not long after, I was on my first International flight, donned in the green and gold and on my way to three weeks at the World Championships.

Doha (Qatar) was one of the most interesting places I have visited. Extreme heat conditions mixed with gusty winds helped welcome me to my first stint of overseas training.

As the race fast approached, my nerves were immense. A separate 5000m race only days before saw more than half the field pull out due to pure exhaustion. As a 16 year old, running only my third race over the distance, this was quite a nerve wracking experience.

The day of my race came and the day passed surprisingly fast. I arrived at the track with a goal to just run as best I could and learn as much as possible.

The different surges of pace, the rough tactics and large pack of runners added many extra challenges to the already tough gig of covering the 5000m distance. After dropping to the back of the field, I managed to move up to 7th by race end. A result which was far better than I had hoped and something I could definitely be proud of. The race will forever remain as one of the toughest of my life. The amount of pain I was in at race end was totally worth it.

When I returned to Australia, I shaved another chunk off my 5000m time bringing it to 15:31.

A few races later and after a week off, my attention shifts towards the big one, the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) next year.

With the help of my very wise coach Max Balchin, my talented training squad, the expertise of the Victorian Institute of Sport and the support of my family and friends I know that I’ll give qualification my best shot.

So as the conclusion of 2015 draws ever closer I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the year, it has meant a lot.

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

 Note:

In the last few days the Qualifying times for the Rio Paralympic Games have been released. They are as follows;

T12/13 1500m-

A Standard: 3:56.26

B Standard: 4:00.78

T12/13 5000m-

A Standard: 14:22.00

B Standard: 15:12.97

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Doha 2015- IPC World Championships (Jaryd Clifford)


DOHA 2015- IPC World Championships

As I slip back into the realities of school life, I have had plenty of time to reflect on what was an amazing and insightful experience.

Doha threw up its fair share of challenges. It wasn’t just the fact that it was my first time overseas, but I also had to face the daunting challenge of racing in the oppressive conditions which Qatar is renowned for.

Another challenge, which to some, will come as a surprise, is that it would become the first time I race against fellow vision impaired athletes. This proved to  have its own challenges, including that of navigating around the athletes with guides and making sure that I kept my feet in the early stages.

My aim going into the race was to learn as much as possible, come away with a PB and maybe snag a top 8 position.

Entering the race with the slowest time (11th out of 11) and the youngest by 8 years was definitely quite intimidating, but I soon grew used to the idea and embraced it as a chance to learn and improve myself as an athlete.

The race was the roughest I’ve run and the pace was choppy from the get-go. After a few near falls I managed to make it with the lead pack until halfway with the first kilometre splits coming in at 3:10 and 3:05 respectively.

As soon as I was dropped off the back the race purely became a mental battle against the pain and the heat, with my next 2k dropping to 3:10 and 3:15.

I began to feel disorientated with 1k to go and the first thought of ‘am I going to make it’ crept into the back of my head. I managed to keep my legs ticking and move my way into 6th with 1 lap to go. The heat and humidity really took its toll in the last 200, as I slipped back to 7th but still managed to cross the line in a 20 second PB of 15:55.02.

To race as well as I did in such extreme conditions has made me confident that a faster time is definitely achievable and the prospect of next year’s Paralympic Games very exciting.

Between now and then there will be some changes to my training and the way I approach my racing. The option of running with a guide is definitely something I am looking into as a way to focus all my energy into the race and not to straining my eyes during the run.

There is definitely a good chance I will take up the idea for the Paralympic Games, but a final decision is not made yet. However, no matter which I choose I will work together with my personal coach Max Balchin and national coach Philo Saunders to best prepare myself for, first of all qualifying for Rio and hopefully racing there in the best shape possible.

In finishing this instalment of our blog, I would like to say, once again, thank you to everyone that has helped me get to this point and everyone who wished me well while I was over there. Doha was truly a remarkable experience and one that I feel has matured me as a person and a runner.

And now I’ve got to go smash out some year 10 exams and then onto qualifying for #Rio2016.

So please keep reading and get on board the #RoadtoRio.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Jaryd Clifford Livestream Information


I am competing in the T12/13 (Vision Impaired) 5000m at the IPC World Championships in Doha, Qatar. My field at the moment comprises 18 entries, of which 12 will advance to the final. I go in as the youngest and slowest on PB, but also with the aim of qualifying for the final and running a personal best.

LIVE STREAM TIMES (AEDT)

Heats- October 28th 5:00am heat 1 (If I am in heat 2 it will be 20 minutes later. My heat is yet to be confirmed)


Final (If I Qualify)- October 30th 5:10am