I knew there were limits, but I just wanted to push myself. I thought, why should I give up? Why shouldn’t I reach for the same dreams as everyone else? I accepted the things I could no longer do and started focusing on the things I could. I decided, there and then, that I was going to compete in the Paralympics.
I’d always loved sport and, at the time, thought my condition would stop me ever taking part again. I couldn’t have been more wrong and last year I won four medals at the Rio Paralympics, two of them gold. It’s so frustrating to feel unable or incapable. But sport makes me feel unstoppable. I know it can do the same for many more disabled people.
I was fortunate to have a sporting chance — but I know for many disabled people even getting the chance to exercise is difficult.
I support Leonard Cheshire because of the work they do to make access to sport more equal. The charity runs centres across the country where disabled people have the opportunity to exercise and take part in sport.
At their Randall Close centre in London, for instance, they have equipment such as adapted cycle machines that help people who have limited use of their legs strengthen their muscles. They also help disabled people access classes for things like swimming, tennis and golf.
We all deserve the chance to become the best versions of ourselves we can be. We deserve the same opportunities as non-disabled people. Right now, many of us are being denied the right to exercise — this needs to change.
It’s so frustrating to feel unable or incapable. But sport makes me feel unstoppable.