Sport is, and always has been,
a massive part of my life.
Whilst young and able bodied I loved cycling, swimming and cross country running. I learned to ski and took up martial arts.
When I became a wheelchair user in January 2011, I just focussed on my ‘ability’ not my ‘disability’ and now play wheelchair basketball with a passion.
Aged just 5, I started Ju-Jitsu as I was being bullied at school and my Mother felt it would give me confidence. I was so keen I begged my Mother to take me to the maximum of 3 sessions a week, and more during school holidays. Therefore, I rapidly progressed through the gradings for my various coloured belts. Aged 10, I passed the grading for my Ju-Jitsu black belt. I couldn’t start work towards my 2nd dan until I was 16, so I continued doing weapons training, but took up cycling as a new sports centre with 1km track had been build next to where I trained in Ju-jitsu.
Quickly, I really took to racing and was winning local races. However, aged 12, following a rugby accident, I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease and early onset Osteoarthritis, at that time I was playing rugby for my school team, Oswestry Rugby Club and was being courted by the county rugby team. Upon diagnosis I had to give up all contact sports immediately. I was able to continue cycling my coach arranged a trip to Newport velodrome and I took to that even more. He recommended that I start training with the Sportcity at Manchester velodrome.
Aged 14, I took part in the National Velodrome Finals at Newport in Gwent in 2010. My races were the flying 200m and the one kilo sprint. I came 6th in one and 10th in the other. I was invited to the DHL sponsored sprint schools. My aim was to be in the top 3 the next year. Sadly, that same summer my condition worsened significantly and some days I was totally unable to walk due to the numbness in my legs caused by the Degenerative Disc Disease and by Christmas I had to give up cycling totally, even just for pleasure and go into a wheelchair full time. I was devastated at having to give up yet another sport that I loved, having already given up Ju-jitsu and now rugby.
Fortunately, aged 15 in January 2010, I was invited to a Paralympic Talent Day at Birmingham University and I tried many different sports such as sitting volleyball, wheelchair archery, fencing, shooting tennis and basketball. Immediately the Wolverhampton Rhinos wanted to sign me up and I started training regularly with the team.
I quickly rose through the ranks of players from playing in club teams to the West Midlands regional team in October 2010, to the National Team for Scotland in June 2011. Since then I have won every Domestic title from the U19s Lord’s Taverners National Championships, the Celtic Cup, to the GB Premier League when in May 2014 the team and I won the highly prized premier league gold. It was between the top 4 teams in Britain with a large portion of the players being either current or past Great Britain players. This was a highlight for me as it showed just how far I have come in such a small period of time. In May I was a part of the winning team for the second year in a row.
In the last year I have played in Germany, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Japan. Team GB meet my travel costs for tournaments abroad however I have to pay for all of my training costs. I currently travel around 35,000+ miles a year as I live in Oswestry but train daily in Manchester, Worcester and the University of Loughborough so my fuel bills are an area where I would really appreciate some help.
On top of my sporting trophies, I have been awarded many and varied other awards such as, a High Sheriff of Shropshire Award for Citizenship, Sportsmanship Award from Walford and North Shropshire College for introducing sport to the wheelchair users at the college. When at school I won various English Speaking board awards which has meant I am in high demand as a public speaker.
Results of note:
4th World Championships 2013
European Champion 2014
2nd Kitikashyu Cup 2014
Premier Division British Champion 2014, 2015 & 2016
Celtic Cup Champion 2012, 2013 & 2014
U19 British Lord’s Taverners Champion 2012 & 2013