Run For Your Life – My Paralympic Legacy
This is an article I wrote for work’s newsletter – if you want a Paralympics legacy story, this is it. Part 2, which is just as important and has more photos, is HERE.
In Summer 2011, I saw a retweet by Tom Riordan, CEO of Leeds Council, of an LCC Sport tweet. Not that unusual, you may think, I’m on Twitter all the time. However, the content of the tweet itself intrigued me.
It linked to a flyer, inviting women aged 25-40 who did not currently take part in sport to join a 10 week Active Women programme.
At any other time in my life, I would have recoiled in horror. I avoided PE where possible at school and had a miserable experience whenever sport was involved throughout my youth. I was rubbish, and my disabilities hadn’t been diagnosed, so I was the reluctant Wing Defence/deep field/running forever up and down the sides of the hockey pitch/insert position for people who are terrible at team games here.
However, I had recently turned 30, and my body, to my horror had decided to change. I realised I was going to have to get active. I had followed the 30 Day Shred DVD, with adaptations, and that was the first exercise I’d done other than walking quickly as a mode of transport and the odd swim in a hotel pool for pleasure in 15 years. To be fair, I’d done as little as possible before that. Even on a summer holiday tennis week, my sister was playing with gusto and I was relegated to batting a ball against a line on the wall. Or failing to.
I emailed Laura, the lady running the programme, and she set my mind at ease. I found the Active Women programme difficult, but over time I started to really enjoy bits of it and was glad I had done it. I also went to a gym for the very first time, and Matthew at Armley who did my induction also has CP so he knew which machines to recommend.
I was even invited to an Active Women photoshoot for marketing future sessions.
I then had a degree to finish and self-employment to wind up and jobs to apply for, so it all got a bit neglected until I watched the Olympics and Paralympics and felt annoyed that I had never been able to properly take part in sport when I was younger. I loved watching athletics, and attended live events, but all the not-very-good people got to do at school was endless middle distance runs and cross country. No jumps, no throws, no sprints. I never got to have a go.
I contacted Laura and asked about disability athletics in Leeds. She said there were sessions for learning disabled athletes at John Charles Centre for Sport in Middleton, and I was welcome despite not being LD. The first few times I was nervous and she went with me. Then I found I loved sprinting, which is what I love to watch too.
I outgrew those sessions and got my own athletics coach in May, and now I train several times a week.
I ran my first 100m on 20 July, at the CP Sport Manchester Grand Prix at Sport City. Based on my PB in training, I was put with mostly T35 athletes. I only went and won my race! To be fair, when I am classified I will be designated as less impaired than those guys, but I also smashed my previous times and ran 18.91 seconds.
That sounds rubbish next to Usain Bolt, but I have CP and I only started serious training a couple of months ago. I was hoping just to run under 20 seconds, which didn’t feel possible.
Everything feels possible now.