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Sam cycles Olympic Velodrome with us

Hello, I’m Sam Blair and I was diagnosed with leukaemia when I was two years old. I’m now 16. My illness had a massive effect on my family, but they also grew stronger which helped them through.

Few memories of my illness

I don’t remember much from when I was in hospital with this awful cancer but I do have a few memories. My first memory was being pinned down by my parents for injections. I hated them. I would fight against having them every day, but they were vital for my survival and keeping on top of this horrible disease.

I also have some good memories, running up and down the hallway with the other children on the ward. I didn’t let anything stop me being a little monkey.

I am glad I don’t remember much because from what I have heard there weren’t many good moments – just constant worry.

Anyway, I am now a healthy 16-year-old lad working hard at my A levels. I love playing football and am very sporty.

Cyclists going round a velodrome

My amazing Olympic Velodrome experience

I am a proud supporter of Children with Cancer UK and love raising money for the charity. It’s a great charity and I think what they do is amazing. They also give me great opportunities to do some unbelievable things that you wouldn’t have thought were possible.

On Thursday 11 September I was given the opportunity to go to the Olympic Velodrome and cycle around the track. Not only that, but I was then able to talk to Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Romero.

Two people at a velodrome with a medal

I was very nervous

At the start of the day, well, I was really scared and not quite sure what to expect. I was nervous as well as buzzing. As we got closer and closer to the Olympic Park, that’s when I really became excited about my day even though I was still nervous about cycling round the track. When I saw the track I got even more nervous because of how high the track actually went. I didn’t expect such a gradient and couldn’t work out how cyclists didn’t fall off.

I got changed into my cycling gear, health and safety was explained and finally I was sitting on my bike with my feet locked in knowing I couldn’t go back now. The trainer explained about how different the bike is to a normal road bike which worried me even more because I knew I needed to get used to this new bike and the new riding technique it required.

Boom, we were off. My nerves vanished as I pushed onto the pedals. I got control of my bike and there was no stopping me. I started gingerly, which you would expect, but after a few laps I was flying. We were moving higher and higher up the track until I was virtually going round the most outer part of the track. At this point I was determined to do my very best. It felt like I had only been going for five minutes when the trainer told us to stop.

I felt disappointed but also happy in a way – because I couldn’t feel my legs after all that pedalling!

Meeting Rebecca Romero – an inspiration

I then got my opportunity, along with the other cyclists, to ask Rebecca Romero questions. She explained how she became both a silver medallist rower and a gold medallist cyclist.

It was really interesting because what Rebecca achieved is very rare. You don’t hear of people getting medals in two different events.

I was also struck that she only started rowing when she was 17. I would have thought that you would have to start much younger. But no, she got her opportunity later.

I now believe that anything is possible in life and I really do think you should live for your dreams. Even with all the knock-backs and negative feedback, which Rebecca had a lot of, don’t give up on what you want to achieve in life.

Rebecca was totally inspiring and it was a pleasure meeting her.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Children with Cancer UK charity for giving me this wonderful opportunity.

Read Sam’s Story
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