An athletes story

From the age of 4, I was diagnosed with learning and language disability with secondary autism. I attended Cedars Sports College, which is where I started my athletics career.  Once I had settled in, which was very scary, at age of 6, I was introduced to the swimming pool, which at first was fun and this is where my sports teacher Liz Neale, noticed that I was better than most.

When I was 8, Liz started to push me harder in swimming and I started to enter competitions.  I got the taste of winning, which made me feel very proud.  I started to learn, if you put the effort in, you will get the rewards and this made me train even harder and I won many medals at which I am very proud of. At 16, I had just started getting National Standards and my swimming was looking like it was going somewhere, but then I got the heart breaking news that I had to give up due to a medical condition. I felt that my whole world had just ended, I cried for days, and wondered what was I going to do now?

Whilst swimming I also did some athletics which at that time was just for fun, just to take my mind off the swimming training really. Little did I know that athletics would start to have a huge impact in my life. So a few weeks later after getting this awful news, I was asked if I wanted to go to Sheffield for trails for the National Athletics Squad.  As I was only doing athletics for fun, I couldn’t understand why.  Later it became clear, my “fun” results had been noticed by the Team Manager, Paul Burns and I was better at athletics than I realised as I was asked after the trials to join the Squad.

During the trials I met Paul and Margaret Smith, Paul is a former Paralympian and I thought “wow”.  I needed to find an athletics club, but having a disability; the majority of clubs either wouldn’t take me on or just wanted nothing to do with me.  After talking with Liz, we went to Chester le Street & District Athletics Club, to see what they could offer.  Walking in through the door, Paul and Margaret Smith noticed me and made me feel at ease – that was it, I felt at home.  Being at a club who welcomed me regardless of disability was a huge relief.  Paul and Margaret have had a huge impact on my life since.

I started to go to Gateshead Sports College, and I needed to have some qualifications behind me, for when my athletics career is over, which I hope is a long time away. My dream is to go into coaching and coach disabled and non-disabled athletes.  I’m 19 now and train with Gateshead Sports Academy. My coach is Matt Wood. I combine training with college work.

There are 3 people who without them I wouldn’t be going to International Competitions as part of the Great Britain – my parents and sister. They have had to put up with all my frustrations, the good and bad times and much more.  The only way I can repay them is by winning and being the best I can be.

2011 Achievements

• U17 Mencap Champion in 100m and 200m and a silver medal in long jump.

• UK School Games gold medalist in the Multi-disability long jump with a lifetime best.

• Silver medals, 100m, 200m & long jump. Bronze medals 4x100m and 4x400m at Nationwide Disability Athletics Championships

2012 Ahievements

• Inas World Indoor Championships Gold 4x400m, 4th 60m, 5th 200m, 13th Long Jump

• Inas European Athletics Championships Sliver 100m, 6th 200m, Silver 4x100m, Silver 4x400m

• Mencap u20 Champion 100m

• Nationwide Junior Disability Athletics Championships Gold 100m, Silver 400m, Bronze 200m

2013 Achievements

• Inas World Championships – Bronze 100m, Bronze 4x400m relay

• British Colleges Championships – Silver 4x100m Relay

• Mencap u20 Champion 100m and 200m

2014 Achievements

• North East County Championships – Bronze 400m

• Sainsbury School Games – Bronze 400m.