Five Hundred & Twenty One Days

Welcome. Or Welcome back to those of you who followed my blog post back in December 2014. December 2014? I know, right, I cannot believe it either. For those of you who are new, or those who are not but simply want a reminder, I originally started my blogging to share my journey through a talent process that would potentially lead to gaining selection into the British Skeleton Talent Squad. That did not happen, and although it was pretty upsetting at the time and I often look back with mixed emotions (mostly pride of what I achieved), I can comfortably say my life since then has been great.

“I found this very therapeutic during my time in Lillehammer and I think that reflection on life is as important as it is during a period such as that when I wrote previously.”

“So, what brings you back Zak?”, well, a few things. I have a new adventure I would like to write about, and also generally to write for my own sake. I miss spending the time in my life to sit down and write or think, or both. I found this very therapeutic during my time in Lillehammer and I think that reflection on life is as important as it is during a period such as that when I wrote previously. Five hundred and twenty one days have past since my last blog post, and my world today could not be further away than that on 10th January 2015. I literally do not know where to start as I type this right now, and I feel like I could type for quite some time but I should probably try to take this in stages – famous last words? My aim though, is to talk about some aspects of my career, talk about things that have happened in the last year, maybe some of my general interests or happenings, plus my next adventure that is less than five weeks away now.

I think I will (try to) briefly summarise the last 521 days, and then discuss my mad adventure I am about to embark on. Then I can fill in the gaps where appropriate. So. 2015. More specifically January 2015. I continued my role with Hertfordshire Mavericks Netball Team in the Netball Superleague, it was a great season and the analysis was used to a much better standard. I was more involved with the coaching team and I genuinely felt the analysis made an impact during that season, which laid solid foundations for the 2016 season. Mavericks made it to the Superleague Final, unfortunately losing to arch rivals Surrey Storm, but another great season, and it developed me furthermore as I try to move forwards to a career in Performance Analysis. I continued working my numerous jobs whilst developing my skills and understanding for my up-and-coming work with British Canoeing, which I was so excited about. With Dartfish I also was trained to teach Dartfish Certification courses which opened new avenues too, and then I was invited to work at the European Karate Championships in Ankara, Turkey. My week consisted of flying to Switzerland (Dartfish HQ), then Turkey, travelling to and from the hotel to competition each day and then back to London via Switzerland again – I saw nothing of Turkey, and only had one opportunity to eat out – which was the best Turkish food I have ever eaten, unsurprisingly. The experience was great, and even though I have my black belt, I have never watched a karate competition live, ever, so that was a lot of fun!

“That’s just normal life isn’t it?”

A week before Turkey I also interviewed for the role of Performance Analyst with the Lawn Tennis Association (British Tennis). As I waited to board my plane, I received a phone call offering me the job – I could not believe it! Finally, a break through into the career I had been working towards for such a long period of time. I could ditch the multiple jobs and free analysis work and be paid to support elite tennis players. Unreal! Especially when I then step on a plane to go abroad, reading my job offer as I am seated. Following this call I had my manic week of Karate then back home for three weeks, then off to Brazil with British Canoeing, then home for five days before starting my new job. That’s just normal life isn’t it?

April 2015 and I spent 17 days in Foz Du Igacu for the World Junior/U23 Canoe Slalom Championships. 17 days of wearing my beautiful Adidas GB kit, wearing sun glasses, getting to know some locals and of course, hitting the grind with the work. My first week in Foz was predominantly relaxing. I supported coaches and athletes during training with a video camera for their post-training feedback, liaising with event organisers ahead of building the TV service area I would operate from and getting a feeling for the venue so I knew where everything was.  The latter part of the second week was crunch time. Usually two analysts go to the international competitions, but with Brazil being so far, only one was sent. I had 30kg of kit from radios and ear pieces, to high performance laptops, SDI converters, hard drives, cables and other miscellaneous components to aid my role. 15 athletes and four coaches to support, turning around videos within an hour and I tried my best to provide race analysis too which was not on the original remit, but I want to impress right, who wouldn’t in that environment. We had a great competition, it was seriously intense for me with very long days but I loved it, and among the medals won there was a Gold, and I sang very proudly when Adam was on the podium – I can’t get enough of the national anthem during sports events! The trip generally was just amazing. I connected well with the coaches, met some fantastic local Brazilians who also took me on a few nights out drinking, we ate the best Brazilian steakhouse food and to top it off I saw the Iguacu Falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides – an absolutely beautiful place with the most vast waterfall I have ever seen and I cannot recommend enough.

“…but as yet it has been such a fantastic 14 months.”

The World Championships then lead me into May and as mentioned before I started my new job within a week of arriving back from Brazil. I will talk more about my job in other blog posts, but as yet it has been such a fantastic 14 months. I have up-skilled myself in many ways and experienced some really nice highs. There have also been a number of challenges on the way, but you have to take the good with the bad and go with that flow. I also moved to a flat in Roehampton last November, and again I will talk about that too I am sure. It was a game changer though, both for my lifestyle and financially too. I am now about 2km from work, and it takes me 6 minutes to cycle one way – a completely different story to travelling ninety minutes each way on three trains with a twenty minute walk from the station to the National Tennis Centre, twice a day, everyday. Plenty more has happened in the last year, however I will skip past that for this post.

I will end this (teaser) blog post with my forthcoming trip. I am going to cycle the Manali to Leh highway in the Indian Himalayas in July! Two friends and I are taking up a hefty challenge, and the headlines include a 500km ride across the second highest motor able road in the world. We will cycle to a peak of 17650ft altitude, self-supported, across two weeks. I am mad, I know. More of that next time. However, if you are struck by my challenge already and want to see/learn more, check out my donation page and our social media pages below…

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 Until next time!

Zak 🙂

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