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August / September 2017 • Issue 9

 YOUR DISABILITY SPORTS MAGAZINE

LONDON2017 FREE SUBSCRIPTION

 JONNIE PEACOCK  SAMMI KINGHORN  HANNAH COCKROFT


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YOUR DISABILITY SPORTS MAGAZINE

hello A word from OnTrack acting editor, Niki Tennant

 The team Acting Editor: Niki Tennant Staff Writer: Colette Carr Designer: Stephen Flanagan Marketing: Sophie Scott Sales: Valerie Speers Sales: Julie Coleman Contributors: Azeem Amir, Mark Bullock, Mark Davidson, Joe Harman

 Contact Call: 0141 465 2960 Fax: 0141 258 7783 Email: niki@2apublishing.co.uk Web: www.ontrackmagazine.co.uk Caledonia House, Evanton Drive, Thornliebank Industrial Estate, Glasgow G46 8JT

Disclaimer

OnTrack Magazine is published by 2A Publishing Limited. The views expressed in OnTrack Magazine are not necessarily the views of the editor or the publisher. Reproduction in part or in whole is strictly prohibited without the explicit written consent of the publisher. Copyright 2017 © 2A Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. ISSN-2056-7146

Front cover image courtesy of Mark Davidson

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A

fter a sensational summer of sport, we are thrilled to bring to you a World Para Athletics Championship special edition featuring our staff writers’ interviews with the BIGGEST, most triumphant track stars. Meet jubilant Jonnie Peacock on page 20, who shares with OnTrack the moment he was gripped by self-doubt and anxiety when cramp took hold at the start line of the T44 100m final. Like Jonnie, the unstoppable Hannah Cockroft explains how she overcame health issues to storm to victory with a hat-trick in the T34 100m, 400m and 800m. See page 10. New girl on the block Sammi Kinghorn reveals on page 38 how she was on her second lap of honour after clinching gold in the T53 200m before realising her performance had smashed the world record. We catch up with wheelchair tennis ace Alfie Hewett who is celebrating with Wimbledon doubles team mate Gordon Reid after retaining their championship title. Staying with summer games, attention turns to Sheffield and two competitors with high medal hopes in the Special Olympics Great Britain National Games. Meet track champ Ian Harper on page 19 and dressage and equestrian Shannon Davis on page 16. BBC studio anchor man JJ Chalmers explains on page 48 what the Invictus Games mean to him as a former competitor and wounded veteran marine. And we chat to a family at the finish line of the Transplant Games to learn how a dad’s gift of a kidney saved his little boy’s life. That’s on page 32. We meet gutsy Amanda Eatwell, whose visual impairment didn’t stop her trying and loving boxing yoga – a new, high impact sport dubbed ‘yoga for tough guys.’ Read her story about how sport aided her recovery after a stroke on page 25.

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Young competitive kayaker Mayo Cross talks with passion on page 29 about her dare devil sport and how the adrenaline rush it gives her helps her overcome her multiple disabilities and health issues. We also reveal how people with mobility issues are at the top of the tree at the UK’s first outdoor adventure centre to offer accessible high ropes.

...we chat to a family at the finish line of the Transplant Games to learn how a dad’s gift of a kidney saved his little boy’s life.. We catch up with regular OnTrack columnist, blind footballer Azeem Amir, and we’re pleased to introduce to our pages new columnist Joe Harman, who worked hard on his rehabilitation after a serious road accident and now motivates and inspires people facing their own challenges to improve their physical abilities. Meet Joe on page 43. We hope this action-packed issue of your disability sports magazine energises and gives you the get-up-and-go required to try new activities. If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Get in touch: niki@2apublishing.co.uk Until October…

Ni T OnTrack Magazine is out every two months and is available completely free of charge. Go to page 51 to subscribe

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WHAT'S

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INSIDE ALFIE HEWETT 36

CONTENTS 07 THE INSIDE TRACK

The latest sports news to hit the headlines

10 HURRICANE HANNAH OnTrack speaks to golden girl Hannah Cockroft about how she overcame illness at London 2017

12 REIGN ON MY PARADE

SMARTTECH

Alfie Hewett reflects on his joy at retaining his and Gordon Reid’s Wimbledon Wheelchair Doubles title

16 SPECIAL OLYMPICS NATIONAL GAMES Hear from GB athletics and dressage medal hopefuls on their road to Sheffield

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20 THE PRIDE OF PEACOCK London 2017 poster boy Jonnie Peacock talks everything Worlds, London and taking a break

25 YOGA FOR TOUGH GUYS Visually-impaired Amanda Eatwell on how boxing combined with yoga changed her life

29 COMPETITIVE KAYAKER MAYO IS A FREE SPIRIT

16 SHANNON DAVIS

Read how Maya-Ray “Mayo” Cross takes to wild waters to feel in control of her body

32 SUCCESS AT THE TRANSPLANT GAMES The McKay family celebrates life and sport at the British Transplant Games

35 AZEEM AMIR Our columnist Azeem brings us up to speed with what he’s been up to, from A Levels to pre-season blind football training

36 SPORTS TECH The latest sports products and equipment to up your game

25 AMANDA EATWELL

38 HAT-TRICK FOR SAMMI Delighted Sammi Kinghorn celebrates her first major medals

40 HIGH HOPES ON THE HIGH ROPES Calvert Trust is taking guests to all heights

43 INTRODUCING BREAKING BARRIERS Meet new OnTrack columnist Joe Harman, director of Breaking Barriers

44 HOMECOMING HEROES

29 MAYO CROSS

OnTrack rounds up all the action at the World Para Athletics Championships from the Olympic Stadium

48 INVICTUS GAMES Invictus Games BBC presenter JJ Chalmers on what the competition means to him and his highlights from Invictus past

40 HIGH ROPES

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INSIDETRACK Keeping you up-to-date with what’s happening in the world of disability sport

New educational resource is making sense of dance

‘M

aking Sense of Dance’, a new educational dance resource, has been launched at Studio Wayne McGregor in East London. Developed in collaboration between Studio Wayne McGregor and the national disability charity Sense, the new toolkit, which combines an instructional guide with video demonstration, is intended to make dance and movement classes accessible to people with disabilities. Free and available to download online, ‘Making Sense of Dance’, provides support to anyone who wants to lead or participate in a movement session. It brings together games, tasks and exercises that have been developed during an ongoing collaboration between Sense and Studio Wayne McGregor. www.sense.org.uk/dance

Exercise improves young people’s mental health

A

new international study into the impact of sport, exercise and dance on 15-24 year olds has shown evidence that physical activity can help improve teens’ and young adults’ mental wellbeing. The findings, from the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, are part of a new report that highlights evidence for the wellbeing impact of different physical activities. Studies of yoga and yoga-type activities • Empowering young girls through exercise led by other showed they reduced feelings girls has a positive effect on of anxiety, depression, and their self-belief. anger, while improving • Aerobic and hip-hop dance attention spans and how the can lead to greater increases in young people reported their happiness compared to other overall wellbeing. activities like ice-skating or

What does the study reveal?

The review was carried out by researchers at Brunel University London, The London School of Economics and the Universities of Winchester and Brighton.

body conditioning. • Taking part in ‘exer-gaming’ programmes, like Wii Fit, in groups can help encourage overweight young people to participate in physical activity and make friends.

Mum and son complete 54-mile wheelchair tandem challenge

T

eresa Elinor and her son Flynn (14) who has Angelmans Syndrome have completed the London to Brighton ride on their Boxer Breeze electric wheelchair tandem bike. The 54-mile route of the ride includes the famous Ditching Hill which is gruelling for a normal cyclist let alone a mum pedalling a large cargo bike and her son in a wheelchair with a total weight of nearly 250kg on the hottest day of the year. The Boxer Breeze ‘wheelchair tandem’ is a large UK designed and built cargo bike especially geared to take a full size 18” wheelchair. It is fitted with the same Unwin restraints as used in ambulances and gives plenty of legroom for the occupant and with good shielding from the elements with its high patterned sides and rain cover. Boxer’s managing director Jeremy Davies says: “We are so proud of Teresa, co-pilot Louise Dorian and Flynn and their achievement and we are also proud that our bike enabled them to do it. We hope that more people are inspired to push the boundaries of what can be done by using an electric powered wheelchair tandem.” www.boxercycles.com

whatworkswellbeing.org

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TEAM LONDON 2017 FULL PAGE A4 + 5MM BLEED (ONTRACK)_Layout 1 12/07/2017 10:13 Page 1

Good luck to all our Team DMO athletes! > Double Paralympic Gold Medallist - Kadeena Cox at the World Para Athletics Championships, London > Paralympic Athlete - Evie Edwards at the BISFed European World Open > Paralympic Bronze Medallist - Patrick Wilson at the BISFed European World Open > Paralympic Gold Medallist - David Smith at the BISFed European World Open DM Orthotics have successfully provided a range of Dynamic Movement Orthoses to both children and adults for over 10 years, with our orthoses helping to manage a variety of neuromuscular conditions. Strategically placed panelling on our orthoses correctly aligns the body and stimulates sensory systems throughout the body reprogramming the brain. All of our orthoses use elastomeric fabric with the single goal to improve function and encourage independence for the user.

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ŠCopyright 2017 DM Orthotics Ltd. Patents and design regulations apply.

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Keeping you up-to-date with what’s

HEADER happening in the world of disability sport

INSIDETRACK

Backing the best

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record number of goalball players have been recognised as the most promising athletes in the country by Sport England and SportsAid. The Backing The Best programme, with £5.5 million of National Lottery funds, will see five elite players receive grant aid towards training and competing costs. Backing The Best aims to support athletes who would face difficulties progressing through their sport’s talent development system without financial help. Seventy athletes were supported during the first year in 2016, producing world, European and national age-group level champions, and now 95 up-andcoming stars will benefit from the scheme’s second term. As a nod to Goalball UK’s talent development, five players have been accepted, with only Rugby Union, boxing and archery with 10, nine and eight recognised athletes respectively. This also makes goalball the leading disability sport on the programme. Mark Winder, CEO of Goalball UK, said: “This award is a testament, not just to the talent and drive of our players, but also to the potential of goalball to reach from a grassroots level to the Paralympic podium.”

Walkfit - The low impact boot camp

B

ritish Military Fitness - known for its outdoor fitness classes where members are distinguished by their blue, red and green bibs - is expanding its lower impact walking workout classes, Walkfit. Classes are available at 10 locations around the UK and are aimed at anyone who wants to become more active, who is injured so can’t run, who wants to give ‘boot camp’ classes a try but thinks they look too tough, or at those who enjoy tracking their 10,000 steps a day. The hour-long outdoor sessions involve bodyweight exercises mingled with brisk walking to burn calories and keep your heart healthy. They are led by qualified military instructors with bags of personality and the skills to motivate participants to get stronger and more mobile all in their local park.

Work hard, play hard

Two members of the GB Goalball team have matched international sporting success with the highest academic achievement by being awarded a PhD. Members of the Cambridge Dons Goallball Club, Sarah Leiter and Filmon Eyassu attribute their academic success to their involvement in sport. Sarah said: “The Cambridge Goalball is the only Dons actually provide me Paralympic team with a nice balance to sport designed specifically university life. Sometimes for visually impaired you can get caught up in sportsmen and women a bit of a bubble and you need a reminder that there is life outside of academia and medicine. “I certainly think that playing goalball alongside my studies has helped me to keep sane. It’s a great stressbuster to go and throw a ball against a wall.” Goalball is the only Paralympic team sport designed specifically for visually impaired sportsmen and women. Played with raised markings on the floor, blindfolds are used to ensure an even playing field as players locate the ball through sound. www.goalballuk.com

To find your nearest Walkfit and try a free introductory class, visit www.walkfit.co.uk

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LONDON 2017

HURRICANE

HANNAH Images © Mark Davidson

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LONDON 2017

Words by Colette Carr

I

t’s the morning after the night before for Halifax hailing, hat-trick hero Hurricane Hannah Cockroft.

The T34 wheelchair racer celebrated clinching another coveted treble in London and turning 25 in a joint celebration ahead of jetting off to New Zealand for three weeks for a well-deserved break from her strenuous schedule. But before hopping on a plane, the Paralympic poster girl spoke to OnTrack Magazine about the bout of illness that threatened her treble hopes, the media perception of her competition, the possibility of London 2019 and what could be in store for her next. The 10-time World champion’s London 2017 success is just the latest chapter in her remarkable career to ensure her name is cemented in the history books, as the prolific racer battled stiff competition and illness to add three more golds to her growing medal collection. She kicked her London campaign off in style, rushing to gold in the T34 100m in the competition’s opening evening smashing the world record, bringing it down to 17.18 seconds trumping fellow Brit Kare Adenegan. Further success followed Hannah – as it has done since she burst onto the global scene in 2012 – on the Monday evening, turning out a Championship record breaking performance in the 800m final - despite a nervy start with Adenegan getting out in front quickly - crossing the line first with a time of two minutes 01.78 seconds, before completing her trio of golden prizes on the Thursday in the 400m with another championship record, clocking in at 58.29 seconds, despite a nasty case of food poisoning. “The 400m was pretty tough,” Hannah opened up. “Before my first race I got food poisoning so it all went a bit wrong by the time the 400m came around. “I had been feeling sick and cold and had been in bed all day trying to bring my energy levels up because there was a point where I felt like my head was going to explode. “The whole race was a weird experience. Normally, it is really noisy and there’s a great buzz from the crowd that you can use. But as we lined up it was silent because the blind long jump was on at the same time. So, we were waiting for a while in silence and it was so surreal, and the longer we waited, the

more I thought, ‘I can’t sit here, I’m going to be sick’. “I felt so ill but I managed to talk myself out of it. I couldn’t pull out in front of that many people. Then the race itself was weird because I didn’t really feel like I was in it, I was just going through the motions, telling myself that I needed to go quicker because I could hear the girls behind me, so I was so thankful after it to have won. “The 400m is my favourite so it was really frustrating. It was my last race and I really thought I could’ve done something special in it, but by the time I got out there I was like death warmed up!” she admitted. But it’s in these situations where athletes call on their gruelling and taxing training, as all the hours put in help push them over the finish line in the face of adversity. “You just need to keep pumping as fast as you can. I actually watched it back and heard the commentators speak about how emotional I was, but I wasn’t. I just needed to get off the track because my stomach cramps were so bad and I thought I was going to be sick,” Hannah recalled. Ahead of it all, you’d be forgiven for just assuming Hannah is an absolute stick-on for her events. With the media branding her the favourite, they often report on a lack of competition for her, but as Hannah explains, her closest rivals Adenegan and American Alexa Halko are capable of far more than they showcase on the world stage. “I know these girls can go faster, I don’t know why they don’t when it comes to Championships. “All year they have pushed me harder than ever before - Alexa has broken records and Kare has PB’d in every 100m she’s done. Everyone always says that I only win because there is no competition, but that’s not true at all – I just don’t know why they can’t repeat what they’ve been doing all season long.

“Being world champion, my results are posted everywhere and it is the same for Kare but on a smaller scale, but I need to search for Alexa’s results. In May we thought I’d broken the 1500m by 11 seconds, but it turned out that Alexa had broken it a week before so I only really broke it by about one second. “The rest of the world has no idea about this. They all think I’m sitting pretty at the top of the world rankings, but nobody sees what happens all year to push me to do that.” Hannah’s triumphant return to the Olympic Stadium allowed her to enjoy the British support again, but when asked her thoughts on the possibility of London 2019, she was hesitant to pin her colours to bringing it back. “I have opposing thoughts on it. “London does have the best Championships, crowds and support and all the athletes love coming here, but if it stays in London, elsewhere won’t learn how to love or host para sport,” Hannah posed. “It wouldn’t grow the movement elsewhere in countries that don’t get great crowds. London can’t host it forever, so you need to think about it in the long-term, even for when after I’ve finished. It could then even open discussions about if the Paralympics should stay in one place, so I don’t think it would be the best thing in helping the movement,” she shared. After her adventures in New Zealand, it’s back to the track for Hannah and back to normal, but she’s not yet sure what 2018 holds for her. “I don’t have any events in the Commonwealth Games which is a shame, so I’m keeping an eye on the Europeans but I’m not sure if I’ll have any events there either yet! “Half of my competition are from outside Europe so we’re not sure yet if there’ll be enough girls to secure an event, so part of me hopes the Russians will be back so we can get the numbers up and I get the chance to get my European title back!”

LONDON DOES HAVE THE BEST CHAMPIONSHIPS, CROWDS AND SUPPORT AND ALL THE ATHLETES LOVE COMING HERE magazine.co.uk

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ALFIE HEWETT

REIGN ON MY PARADE

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he British summertime isn’t exactly the most reliable of seasons.

And when rogue rain showers sneak up on us while we’re making the most of the warmer weather, they’re often met with heavy grunts and curses as we duck for cover. But for one half of the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Doubles champions Alfie Hewett, a heavy downpour came as a welcome relief as he and Gordon Reid trailed top seeded French duo Stephane

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Houdet and Nicolas Peifer. Defending champions Hewett and Reid emerged victorious in a nerve-wracking 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 Championship win, but had dropped the first set to the Paralympic and French Open victors on a drizzly court 3 at The All England Club before the heavens opened, leading to a lengthy rain delay. But after his first training session since The Championships, the Norfolk native told OnTrack it wasn’t a case of Mother Nature raining on his parade.

Image © Play Barave Ltd

Words by Colette Carr

“I think actually it was one of the best things to happen to us,” he confessed. “The grass was a little soft because it had been raining all morning during the previous match and it was drizzling throughout the first set which was making it extremely tough to push on. We weren’t getting to the balls that we had been getting to all week because it was skidding off the grass or it just died, so mentally we were getting frustrated. “I myself wasn’t feeling as confident as I had been all week and that rain delay

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ALFIE HEWETT

gave me time to go back to the locker rooms, change, get some energy and talk to the coaches. “It gave us that break to get a fresh start to come back into the second set with a lot of confidence. “I wish it had stopped a bit earlier!” he laughed. Hewett has been on the circuit long enough though to know how to deal with these speedbumps. Experience and knowhow have conditioned him to deal with these situations even on the biggest stages and use the time to wisely regroup. “We went back to the gym for an hour doing lots of little exercises and games to keep us laughing and our energy high. A few years ago, I would have probably sat in the café on my phone looking at the tweets and getting cold, so you learn a lot off court as well as in the game,” Hewett shared.

entering Wimbledon with Reid as doubles holders, the media dubbed both early favourites to take one if not both titles. He said: “It does affect your approach - it was brilliant to win it the first time but coming back in it is like you’re expected to win it.

couple of matches and while the media believed that we would just turn up and defend our title, we didn’t think that would be the case.”

“There’s more pressure and it’s more stress than excitement. I think we trained hard before it to make sure we were in good shape physically and were in a good place as a team.

During The Championships, the current world number 3 also won his first Wimbledon singles match following being knocked out in the opening round last summer. Reaching the semi-finals this year, the teenager has grown a lot both on and off the court over the past 12 months.

“But we hadn’t beaten the French in a

While conceding that he wasn’t as  Image © Tennis Foundation

While unfortunate for the waiting crowds, it was a blessing in disguise for the Brits. Returning to the court, they raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set, before levelling the tie taking the second set 7-5.

IT WAS QUITE A LONG AND EXHAUSTING WEEK IN WIMBLEDON BUT TO GET THE WIN AT THE END WAS GREAT...

The two teams then locked horns again in the tense deciding set, with the forceful French saving four match points at 6-5 to the Britons to force it to a tie break in a “deflating moment” for Hewett, before the pair secured their second Wimbledon doubles title courtesy of a tie break in as many years in front of the packed-out crowd. “It was quite a long and exhausting week in Wimbledon but to get the win at the end was great and it was really overwhelming to be on court number 3 with all those people. “There was a lot of media afterwards, so I just took the week off after! I just relaxed and caught up with the family back home to try and recover, but I think it’s sunk in a little now and I’m just getting back to business. Today I got on court for the first time since it,” the reigning champion said. And it was well-deserved time off. Ahead of the SW19 tournament, Hewett took to the fray with levels of expectation on his shoulders that he was yet to experience.

ALFIE HEWITT AND HIS WIMBLEDON DOUBLES TEAMMATE GORDON REID WITH THEIR WINNING TROPHY

Having become the first Brit to win the French Open at Roland Garros in June and

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Image © Play Brave Ltd

“Before the Paralympics I felt the pressure to perform, but since then I’ve been reaching the Grand Slams on a regular basis and was needing to reach the top seven to do that, so now it’s all about enjoying it and learning from it as a player and an individual. “At the end of the day I’m still young and hopefully have a long career ahead of me!” he enthused. It can be difficult to remember Hewett isn’t even 20-years-old yet. Making his mark pushing the best of the best since taking silver at Rio 2016 and becoming a household name, he has also been around long enough to see the huge impact the growth of the sport has made, not least playing in a final on a busy court 3 with the Ladies Singles Final coinciding on Centre Court. “It says a lot about how wheelchair tennis has grown in the last four or five years,” he tells us, sounding more than his tender 19 years.

confident going into Wimbledon off the back of his success in France as you may have expected, he brought with him a new relaxed persona, ready to take the tournament game by game and enjoy his time on the court.

ourselves. Our hands always have to be on the wheels here and it’s a shame because this is the most covered wheelchair tennis event by the media and I feel like the game isn’t shown as well as it could be,” he explained.

“The French Open was a great week. I seem to play really confidently on the clay but going into Wimbledon I don’t know if I had the same confidence - but I was a lot more relaxed, I felt.

“Last year was my first big British event and the atmosphere was amazing, but this year I was a little bit calmer and a lot more focused on what I needed to do.

“If you watch a game on a hard court you’ll see that the tennis is a lot quicker, but on grass it’s so tough to push

“I got myself into a really good position to win the semi but unfortunately I couldn’t see it out and Gustavo (Fernandez) went through.

LAST YEAR WAS MY FIRST BIG BRITISH EVENT AND THE ATMOSPHERE WAS AMAZING, BUT THIS YEAR I WAS A LITTLE BIT CALMER... 14

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“I remember playing at Wimbledon three years ago on court 17 and we couldn’t even fill one row of seats let alone a stadium like court 3. “People are talking about it more and asking questions - that would never have happened without the BBC showing matches and giving us coverage. It’s great that we’re a bit more exposed in the media and court 3 was an incredible place to play. “From the first match, my goal was to reach one of the finals so I could play on court 3 so I could experience it, so once I was knocked out the singles I was so determined to make sure Gordon and I reached it,” he told OnTrack, almost like it was a promise. And make it they did, rewriting history in a bid to extend the so-called ‘Wimbledon effect’ to the wheelchair competition. “Just from social media I can already see more people getting in contact and trying to get involved which is great to see. “All we ever want to do as wheelchair tennis players is inspire people to take it up and not just do it for a few weeks after Wimbledon, but to do it for the rest of their lives, whether it’s having a hit with your mates or taking it seriously.” n

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Special Olympics Great Britain National Games is the largest sporting event to be held in GB for people who have an intellectual (learning) disability. The event, from Monday August 7 to Saturday, August 12, brings together around 2,600 athletes with intellectual (learning) disabilities from across England, Scotland and Wales who compete in a variety of sports. Special Olympics National Games saw 20 sports take place across over a dozen venues in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS EQUESTRIAN

SHANNON DAVIS

All eyes will be on talented young equestrian, Shannon Davis, when she trots on to the Sheffield Arena as part of the Eastern Region Special Olympics Equine team.

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04/08/2017 09:19


Words by Niki Tennant

SPECIAL OLYMPICS THE MANE EVENT

C

urrently riding for the British Dressage Eastern Regional RDA, Shannon first climbed into the saddle at the tender age of 10.

Shannon started riding at an equestrian centre in Middlesex. Both her instructor and her father, Mark, recognised great potential in her abilities, which spurred her on with the financial backing of her dad to achieve her dream. “Since I was little, I loved to be around horses,” she explained. “I would go and help out at the stables any chance I got. I always wanted my own horse, but my parents thought it was just a phase, which it wasn’t. I did not get my own horse until I was 18 and that was a journey in itself.” Not long after Shannon was introduced to 15HH warmblood mare Dovecote Charlotte (Charlie) bought by Mark, it became clear that the horse had previously been maltreated and was extremely nervous. “She required a lot of training and was very head shy,” explained Shannon (20) of Watford. “She did not like her ears being touched. I built her up through my trust and her trust. It was a project for a considerable time, investing to build her trust which resulted in a strong bond between us.” Three years ago, Shannon – who is dyslexic – took a bad tumble from Charlie and doctors feared she may have had a lower lumber fracture to her spine. After several months’ recuperation during which she was unable to ride, Shannon

returned to full health but admits her confidence was seriously dented. Shannon was soon back in the saddle thanks to the support of coach, Sasha Hamilton. She immersed herself in freelance grooming to help gain extra knowledge and skills and completed a diploma 1 in horse care at Oaklands Equine College. For the past two years, Sasha has been training Shannon, inspiring her to continuously improve. Shannon recently started working for Sasha as a team groom and is now studying towards levels 2 and 3 in horse management as well as a coaching course which will enable her to achieve her dream of helping people who have special needs. In those two years, Shannon has made quite an impact, with advanced/ intermediate scores of up to 85%. She won the RDA dressage championships in 2015 on her cob, Max, and has been selected to compete in the

2017 British Dressage Nationals which herald the start to an exciting couple of years for the young, hardworking, passionate dressage rider. Sadly, Charlie developed a spinal condition and Shannon and dad Mark had to make the difficult decision to retire her. “My dad and I got really emotional,” explained Shannon. “It was really sad. She now has the life of luxury, though, out in the field. I am now looking for my next horse with the help of Sasha, who has given me training to improve my riding and comes along to my shows. “When I fell off Charlie, I lost my confidence really badly. Now, my confidence is out of this world!” Renowned international dressage riders Rebecca and Gareth Hughes have widely tipped Shannon as a star of tomorrow, saying she has a great future in dressage ahead of her. Said proud dad, Mark: “I am a firm believer that if dressage is for a person, you follow that route. With Shannon, it’s the perfect fit. I’ve had to fight for where she is today. I have always told her that if you want things in life, you have to fight for them. My next goal for her is the World Games and Tokyo.”

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Words by Niki Tennant

SPECIAL OLYMPICS “SO MANY MEDALS I’VE LOST COUNT”

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s the long-awaited Special Olympics Great Britain National Games got underway in the city of Sheffield, one talented athlete was a familiar face. Ian Harper was aged only 13 when he was introduced to the Special Olympics by a friend. Now 30-years-old, Ian says he’s been hooked on the event ever since. As well as co-hosting the glittering opening ceremony alongside presenters Jim Carter (Downton Abbey actor), former footballer and sports television star Chris Kamara, and TV presenter Suzi Perry, Ian was competing in a number of events. With high hopes of adding to the three gold medals he clinched at the National Games over the past three years, athlete Ian was competing in the 100m, 200m, shot put and 4x100m relay events. “I have picked up so many medals in the last 17 years that I’ve lost count,” said Ian, who is on the autism spectrum. “Even after all this time, it still gives me a great buzz.”

ATHLETE IAN HARPER IS PASSIONATE ABOUT THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS

from the opening ceremony, to the actual games, to the competition and on to the closing ceremony. It does not matter if I come first or last. It’s all about competing and making sure there is respectful rivalry. That is what the event is all about.”

Along with 14 other passionate sportspeople, Ian is heavily involved in the Special Olympics athletes’ leadership programme.

Through participation in the Special Olympics GB National Games, people with an intellectual (learning) disability will acquire the confidence and social life skills that will help their inclusion in society.

Asked which aspect of the Games he most enjoys, Ian explained: “I think it is everything, really, from start to finish,

The Games offers people the opportunity to give back to the community and make a difference when coaching, officiating and

volunteering at the event. For Games athletes, excellence is personal achievement, a reflection of reaching one’s maximum potential and a goal to which everyone can aspire. For those athletes who attain an elite level in their sport, Special Olympics signposts and supports a pathway into Paralympics and other elite competitions. Special Olympics GB is the largest provider of a year-round, all-ability sports programme and supports over 10,000 athletes with intellectual (learning) disabilities on a continued basis.

 2,600 ATHLETES  12+ VENUES

 20 SPORTS  750 VOLUNTEERS  5,OOO+ FAMILY & FRIENDS

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LONDON 2017

THE PRIDE OF

PEACOCK

Images © Mark Davidson

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LONDON 2017

Days after he stormed to victory at the World Para Athletics Championships in London to clinch his second World gold, star sprinter Jonnie Peacock shares with OnTrack Magazine his biggest doubts, his thrill of again competing before a London crowd, the young athletes he tips as the track para superstars of tomorrow, and his plans to now wind down and take 2018 off… Words by Niki Tennant

W

hen Jonnie Peacock took his place at the start line for the T44 100m final at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, he was suddenly buckled by cramp – an experience that would consume him with anxiety and self-doubt about his ability to finish the race. He had earlier in the day won his heat comfortably in a personal best of 10.64 seconds, just 0.03 seconds short of rival Richard Browne’s world record. In previous competitions, such a performance during a heat has set him up well for the final and given him the impetus and determination to excel. Yet, at the start line in the 100m final, his loyal following in the crowd looked on anxiously as, his face etched with pain, he repeatedly stretched his hamstring in a bid to banish the cramps. “I have never been at a start line with that much doubt and that much worry,” Jonnie confessed to OnTrack Magazine. “There was a huge part of my head that was asking whether I’d be able to run even 30m here. When the starter says: ‘On your marks’ and you’re on the blocks, you have to focus on what you need to do. Sub-consciously, you turn on your experience of previous World Championships and try to make sure you are ready to do the best you can.” The honed tactic clearly worked for the 24-year-old two-time Paralympic champion, who finished in 10.75 seconds to clinch his second World title. The single-leg amputee crossed the line victorious, ahead of German Johannes Floors and American Jarryd Wallace to claim Britain’s eighth gold medal of the Championships.

The elite sprinter managed a celebratory “quarter of a beer” after his dramatic win, insisting water had more of an appeal in his quest to rehydrate following his victory in the first Sunday of the Championships. “The celebrations are still on hold,” he insists. A gruelling schedule of media engagements ensued, with cameras, reporters and broadcasters never far from his side for the remainder of an event Jonnie describes as “the biggest and best championships Paralympic sport has ever had.” “London 2017 was the best World Championships I have ever seen – 10, 20-fold better than anything before,” he enthused. “The crowd was everything to do with that. It was a special stadium to go back to, with London 2012 holding so many special memories there because of the amazing crowd. The fans this time did not disappoint. The way they have been turning out has been fantastic to see.” Speaking to OnTrack Magazine just five days after he stormed to glory to clinch his second World title, the adrenaline was still pumping through the champion’s veins. The quiet man of para athletics, who

unlike some of his rivals has never been one for bluster and fighting talk, has mapped out a new pace for himself after he competes in the few more races left in the season, including the Great North Games in Newcastle and Gateshead on September 9. Jonnie has announced his decision to “pretty much take 2018 off ” to recharge his batteries and restore mentally for what is ahead for him in his athletics career. “Having a year to myself is the best way to describe it. I have made sport my priority for seven years now and the time is right to have fun in other ways,” explained Jonnie. “I will continue training, but it will be maintenance training rather than improvement training and I’ll be training only two days a week rather than six.” For the past 18 months, his training regime has been dominated by weight training, particularly in winter, which has helped him to gain a few kilos and increase power. Throughout his sprinting career in training and competition, the focus has been consistently on synergy and balance. It has been an art in itself to sprint with speed, power and precision on one prosthesis, as he does not have the natural balance enjoyed by a two-legged sprinter or double amputee on two blades. He has battled injuries for the past four years and, while he admits it’s frustrating, his quiet acceptance of the inevitability of injury is characteristic of the champion’s mild-mannered regard for his sport. “I think you just have to accept when you start sport that injury is part ‘n’ parcel of that,” explained Jonnie, whose fitness to 

LONDON 2017 WAS THE BEST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS I HAVE EVER SEEN – 10, 20-FOLD BETTER THAN ANYTHING BEFORE... magazine.co.uk

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LONDON 2017

compete in the World Championships in Lyon in 2013 was questionable due to injury. He went on to race at the event and won gold. The challenge injury presents to para athletes came into sharp focus when he was forced to sit out the 2015 Worlds in Doha with a sore to his stump which prevented him from training. “Yes, Doha 2015 slipped through my fingers,” admitted Peacock, but I managed to make sure I was on good form for Rio and London. You learn a lot as you grow and you always have to keep at the back of your mind that injuries will crop up.” Following his ‘year out,’ Peacock has vowed to return in Winter 2018 with his sights firmly set on his bid to be selected for Tokyo 2020. He is also backing the bid for the World Para Athletics Championships to return to London in 2019, saying: “That would be amazing to see.” It is no surprise that the unassuming young sprinter from Cambridgeshire, whose leg was amputated below the knee after contracting meningitis at the age of five, has become a role model for aspiring young athletes the world over. Jonnie seems genuinely humbled when asked about how it feels to know that so many children and young people view him as a hero and a super human – an inspirational figure and someone whose accomplishments they themselves can aspire to achieve. “I meet so many kids who overcome things because of what we as para athletes do,” said a softly spoken Jonnie Peacock, who lacks the brashness and cocky manner of the typical sprinter, answering questions patiently, modestly, yet with conviction and purpose. “When you see that happening, it does take you back and I know that as a child, seeing what can be achieved by Paralympians would have made me want to get involved. It proves to everybody that life is what you make of it and there are many positives. “I want to send that message to all the kids – and to everybody of all ages – to always try to focus on the positives, look

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ahead and be as happy as you can be in the short and long term.” When asked who he tips as the stars of tomorrow, the two-time World title holder’s response was as spontaneous as it is to the starter’s gun: “Felix Streng. He’s going to be the sprinter to take things forward. An incredible athlete.” German track and field athlete Streng has won medals at both European and World Championship level and was part of the German Men’s 4 x 100 metres relay team that won gold in 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio. Injury meant that the single amputee, who competes in the T44 classification, was unable to compete at London 2017. Peacock was also swift to tip Sophie Kamlish, who bolted her way to gold in the women’s T44 100m on the final day of the Championships. “I think she will dominate the event for a long time,” he predicts. “It’s really exciting to see the younger generation coming through and seeing para sports becoming more competitive and more people getting involved.” As the season comes to a close and Jonnie prepares to wind down for a year out of the competitive circuit, he insists he has no plans to retire, but is keeping his future

options open. But, as someone who will be 27 in his comeback year of 2019, has he considered life outside of athletics? “To a point,” he says. “I will try to take up any opportunities that come my way in this year and next.” If 11-time Paralympic champion Barnoness Grey-Thompson is anything to go by, he won’t be short of those. “Tokyo seems like a long way off,” she told the BBC. “Everyone will want to see him there but he will have to be in better and better shape as he gets older. “It’s wise to think about life after sport, but he won’t have to worry about it because he’ll have so many opportunities.” Articulate, personable and a pleasure to watch, Peacock is a sponsor’s dream. And to him, those sponsors – primarily Sainsbury’s and Virgin Media – have been pivotal to his success. “I cannot do what I do without the support of my sponsors. They have given me the ability to completely focus on my training and give every inch to sport and training,” he stressed. “It’s great to see the shift in para sports in the past five or six years. There was barely any sponsorship before that. Hopefully, it will just keep progressing.” n

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04/08/2017 14:04


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YOGA Words by NIKI TENNANT

FOR TOUGH GUYS

manda Eatwell was a typical 20-year-old college student who worked hard and played hard, loved sport and lived life to the full. She studied photography, had a boyfriend and a part-time job in a local hotel. Then, after complaining of headaches, the unimaginable happened. That fit, active and vivacious young woman had a stroke.

A

MORE ABOUT BOXINGYOGA ON NEXT PAGE DE I S N

I

BOXINGYOGA™ CLASS STRUCTURE

BOXINGYOGA™ THE BENEFITS

Images © Bobby Harrison: totalboxer.com

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A D N A AM

L L E W T A E “I

was working at a small wedding and I left the room to cut up the wedding cake. The headache hit me and it was horrific, like someone was bashing from the inside out. I started to see floaty and flashing lights, I couldn’t see properly and one side of my body went numb,” remembers Amanda. “My parents came to take me to A&E. As I was walking out of the hotel, I was bashing into things. As I got into the car, I hit my head and I realised that my eye sight went immediately.” After several false diagnoses of migraine, CTP and MRI scans concluded that Amanda had had a stroke. The damage, which robbed her of more than 40% of her right-side vision, was permanent, leaving her with partial tunnel vision. “At that time, I was young and I have always been quite pragmatic and easy going by nature so I seemed okay. But I’d say it took a couple of years to really accept what had happened,” explained Amanda. “The frustration lasted a long time. Legally, I was not allowed to drive which was devastating for me. I was having panic attacks. If I got a headache, I would start getting nervous, then I’d get more panicked. It was a vicious circle caused by the shock of sight loss and getting used to the ‘new me’.” To help control her breathing and regain a sense of calm, a GP suggested Amanda try yoga. “I started going to classes once a week and it is something I have kept in my life ever since. There are some exercises from the early days that I still do now. Like riding a bike, if you learn certain techniques, you do not lose them,” said Amanda, now aged 43. Her photography career and the fact she was no longer allowed to drive led to her leaving her Swindon home and

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I thought it didn’t make sense for me to do boxing because my visual impairment put me at a disadvantage. But I tried it anyway.” moving to London, where she ran and cycled regularly and continued with yoga. Then, by chance, she met the owner of BoxingYoga, Matt Garcia, who explained the discipline was designed for boxers. She was persuaded to give it a try – and admits she was shocked at how tough it was. “A couple of moves were mind blowing, but I like a challenge. I started going once a week. As I got more into it, I started going several times a week.” Sessions were held at a small, friendly

boxing club, where a member asked when she was going to try her hand at boxing. “I thought it was not for me. I thought it didn’t make sense for me to do boxing because my visual impairment put me at a disadvantage. But I tried it anyway.” She took part in the ‘Get FIT NOT HIT’ programme – an experience she describes as a revelation. As time has gone on, she has gained increasing respect for the technical and psychological skills inherent in the sport and its impressive

magazine.co.uk

04/08/2017 09:21


Images © Bobby Harrison: totalboxer.com

BOXINGYOGA™

FOR FIGHTERS, FOR ATHLETES, FOR LIFE

BOXINGYOGA™

CLASS STRUCTURE A BoxingYoga class merges boxing technique with traditional and innovative yoga postures in a 60-minute class format. The four stages of the class are performed over 12-rounds in one continuous movement sequence to music, with intensity adapted to participants’ needs and ability.

training discipline. She has found those skills, which have given her increased confidence, to be transferable in life. The sport has taught her to be intuitive in the ring, looking directly at her opponent and judging how they are going to react, rather than worrying about her limited right-side sight. Mum to 16-year-old Samuel, Amanda took her sport to a new level by embarking on a BoxingYoga teacher training programme, taking the exam and receiving her coaching qualification. As well as pursuing her photography career, she now coaches at Total Boxer in North London three times a week.

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escribed as ‘yoga for tough guys,’ BoxingYoga™ is a powerful yogabased training system, improving physical strength and flexibility to maintain optimal health, prevent injury and maximise performance. BoxingYoga systematically strengthens and stretches the entire body and offers fighters a considered approach to explore coordination, body awareness and correct posture alignment. As a result, BoxingYoga helps to drastically shorten recovery time and cultivates

BENEFITS

• increases whole-body power and strength through emphasising on correct form and multistrengthening exercises in sequence. • Cultivates confidence, motivation and a positive mental attitude • Teaches controlled breathing necessary to improve balance, regain energy and increase stamina. • Challenges individuals to push beyond their limits whilst simultaneously ensuring that the exercises are safe and suitable to their needs. • Works as an effective means to reduce recovery time, stiffness and muscle soreness.

relaxation and muscular tension release. These are important factors in preventing injuries and optimising a healthy body and mindset. To maximise performance, BoxingYoga focuses on utilising the whole body in a kinetic chain reaction with the power of the core and spiral dynamics of the spine.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? Born in a boxing club, BoxingYoga abandons yoga’s more traditional conventions - chanting, esoteric beliefs underlying yoga philosophy and Sanskrit terminology - and focuses on a streamlined activity, directly targeting improved sporting performance. BoxingYoga brings the mindset of a champion, one who learns equally from failure as from success, teaching participants to maintain focus, determination and composure in highly intense, challenging situations, just like a boxer. BoxingYoga pushes individuals to reach their potential whist ensuring that the exercises are safe and suitable to the needs of participants.

“You never know what is coming your way in life, good and bad,” she reflected. “One thing leads to another. If I hadn’t tried BoxingYoga, which has added a lot to my life, there is no way I would have attempted boxing - and look at me now!” For more info please visit:

www.boxingyoga.com www.amandaeatwell.com magazine.co.uk | 27

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04/08/2017 14/06/2017 14:42 16:50


COMPETITIVE

KAYAKISEA R

M A Y O REE SPIRIT

F

Words by Niki Tennant

For gutsy teenager Maya-Ray Cross, kayaking is her salvation. And when she’s at one with the rapids, she feels in control of her body, “for a change.”

T

he 16-year-old, who’s known as Mayo, has been kayaking since the age of seven and is a member of the Junior Women’s GB Freestyle team.

Freestyle is a dynamic discipline where competitors aim to score points for tricks and flips.The appeal of the sport, says Mayo, is that it allows her to get active, spend time with her friends, be outdoors and at one with wildlife. Just as importantly, it takes her mind off things. Mayo does not have her challenges to seek. She has a genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) 3, hypermobility type, which affects her tendons and ligaments. This means her joints have a greater range of movement, making them unstable and prone to sprains and dislocations. EDS also affects her inner organs and causes chronic pain, chronic fatigue and even makes her skin stretchy. She also has dyspraxia, known at one time as ‘clumsy child syndrome.’ Dyspraxia, Mayo explains, is an umbrella term used to cover many small issues that build into a bigger picture and covers more than just coordination issues. 

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KAYAKING

E L Y T S E E R F

KAYAKER

Image © Tom Clare Photography: www.tcphoto.xyz

MAYO CROSS

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To every other disabled person out there who fancies trying a new sport, I would say give everything a go.


KAYAKING

there who fancies trying “Unfortunately,” she a new sport, I would say explains, “I tick a lot of give everything a go. boxes, including anxiety, There is something out fears and Asperger’s. I there for everyone to have recently been enjoy, from the likes of diagnosed with kayaking, climbing and another condition swimming, to lots of that affects the other sports,” enthused vertebrae in Mayo, who combines her my spine, called love of freestyle kayaking Scheuermann’s disease, which has Mayo (second from the left) says: “don’t let your disability drag you down.” with river running, canoeing and climbing caused me severe back pain when she feels well enough. for as long as I can remember.” kayaking events calendar for the “As more awareness is raised around Mayo also has the extremely rare Blue teenager, who’ll be involved in festivals, disabilities, more sports are being Rubber Bleb syndrome, which causes competitions, Team GB training and made accessible. Anything is possible painful vascular lesions on her hands, plenty of summer fun on the water. when you believe in yourself and have feet and back and internally. This Her parents, Angela and Jason, take her people by your side to encouraging means regular hospital visits for Mayo to kayaking events and are always on you to accomplish your dreams. for treatment to reduce the swelling hand should anything go wrong. and pain. “No matter what, don’t let your She paddles with the many friends disability drag you down. I say let’s “Kayaking helps me because I use it as she has made through the sport, and show what we are made of and a kind of physical therapy – and let’s describes kayaking as a close-knit enjoy it.” n be honest, everyone hates doing the community in which everyone looks normal boring physio,” said a candid out for one another. Mayo, who is indebted to her first sponsor, Go Kayaking North West, who have been supportive throughout. “It strengthens the muscles around my joints and there are mental health benefits, too. It lifts my mood and gives me something to think about. When I am playing in the top hole at Holme Pierrepont National White Water Centre in Nottingham – the first feature on the course called the inlet gate - I feel in control of my body, for a change. I feel a bit safer on the water as I am sat in my boat and at less risk of falling over. “When I get off the water, I am usually in more pain, but that is to be expected. Even though I am sore and aching afterwards, I look back on what I did and ask myself if I enjoyed it and was it worth the pain. As long as I can answer ‘yes’, I know I’ve had a good time and I make every day count.” A member of the Junior Women’s GB Freestyle team, Mayo will be heading to the International Canoe Federation Freestyle World Championships in San Juan, Argentina, in November. This will be the highlight of a busy

Because the mascot for EDS is the zebra, she has personalised her Peak UK kayaking kit with zebra stripes to raise awareness of the condition and has on order a zebra-striped Pyranha kayak. “I get to see things from the water that non-kayakers don’t,” continued Mayo. “Being outdoors in the fresh air and seeing the wildlife gives me a good feeling.” She was thrilled to be accepted by the Sheshreds.co crew as an ambassador. @sheshreds.co supports women who have a passion for action adventure sports. Its mission is: “To arm ordinary girls and women with apparel, experiences and a system of support that helps them feel extraordinary, every day.” Sheshreds wants to help women step outside of their comfort zone and conquer new horizons. It encourages them to be critical thinkers by challenging authority and the status quo.

WHAT IS FREESTYLE KAYAKING? Freestyle kayaking is a fun, fast and dynamic discipline of the sport of kayaking. Freestyle paddlers use white water waves and holes to perform surf and gymnastic-style manoeuvres and tricks. The sport uses short kayaks designed to surf and spin across the water surface, and release up into the air. In competitions, freestyle kayakers gain points for each different trick they perform, with bonus points awarded if they can get their boat out of the water and up into the air.

Competition runs last for 45 seconds during which competitors must perform as many different moves as possible. Each different move scores points and the highest overall score wins.

“To every other disabled person out

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TRANSPLANT GAMES

Words by Colette Carr

SUCCESS AT THE TRANSPLANT GAMES

T

orrents of unforgiving rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the masses who turned out for the Donor Run event in the “best Westfield Health British Transplant Games yet”. Despite lashes of rain beating down on Motherwell’s Strathclyde Country Park just moments before the 5K and minimarathon set off, the determined group of participants from up and down the country made sure the event wasn’t a washout. With penguins, Robin Hoods, Despicable

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Me minions and even a Swizzles Drumstick lolly amongst those that chose to dress up for the occasion, the most noticeable of these revellers were the hoards of runners donning Tunnocks Teacake ponchos and hats.

It seemed fitting that this group kitted out for the weather were from the close-by Glasgow Children’s Hospital. And amongst the teacakes was Glasgow family the McKays, made up of mum Morag, son Ben and live donor dad David and eight-year-old (transplant kid) Sam,

who said the celebration of sport and life on offer at the Games was phenomenal and pivotal in creating the discussion around the donor transplant register. “Sam was diagnosed with post-urethral valves when he was in the womb and we had really early intervention from Yorkhill Foetal Medicine Department before he was born when he had dilated kidneys,” David explained. “We realised that there was going to be an issue and we were advised that his kidneys had taken some sort of hit. We

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04/08/2017 09:31


TRANSPLANT GAMES

weren’t sure of the extent until he was born and eventually his kidney function deteriorated quickly over a period of two years before the hospital informed us that he would need a transplant, which was on 29 October 2014. He was one [L-R]: DAVID IN of the last transplants at the old HIS PINK LIVE Yorkhill Hospital,” he added. DONOR TOP, BEN, Sam was only five when he received one of his dad’s kidneys in a bid to save his young life, in a testing time for Morag.

SAM IN HIS RED TRANSPLANTEE SHIRT AND MORAG

“When you’ve got two of your family under operation at the exact same time and trying to split yourself between two hospitals it was hard. “We were very fortunate that both our kidneys matched our son’s, and doing this today you’ve got to realise how important it is for there to be donors out there for those who can’t receive a donation from a family member. “It’s so important ro use events like this to get people on the donor register. You’re giving a life to someone else.” David added: “If we weren’t a match, then we would have had to go on the register and wait for a match for Sam while he was on dialysis which would be crippling for the family. You’d be tied to the hospital so schooling and family are affected. Siblings like Ben are affected too hospital so the effect of a transplant has been phenomenal.”

this is our second. To be on home soil is brilliant. The support we’ve had has been excellent, our team at Glasgow Children’s Hospital have been fantastic, we love them all, they’re second to none and what they do is phenomenal. “They’re our extended family and we love them to bits for supporting us through everything. Our journey to here has been because of them, I can’t recommend them highly enough!” Morag told OnTrack at the finish line. And for Sam and big brother Ben (11), the Donor Run proved a great experience – despite the heavy rainfall.

Three years after his transplant, Sam and his family still attend the hospital for check-ups and support from those they call “family”, experiencing the highs of the British Transplant Games with them all by their sides.

“I’ve had so much fun! The hospital has given us so much cheering on to do this, so it’s been great fun - the rain was very bad though!” Sam said, while Ben added, “It’s been great! It’s great for my little brother and anyone who has had a transplant to come and enjoy it with everyone else.”

“We went to the Liverpool Games, so

www.britishtransplantgames.co.uk

THE SUPPORT WE’VE HAD HAS BEEN EXCELLENT, OUR TEAM AT GLASGOW CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL HAVE BEEN FANTASTIC, WE LOVE THEM ALL...

ABOUT THE TRANSPLANT GAMES

The 2017 British Transplant Games were the 40th of its kind as it took to North Lanarkshire for four packed days celebrating the gift of life and sport in what Transplant Sport chairman Andy Eddy and Westfield Health chairman Graham Moore dubbed the “best British Transplant Games ever”. After its rousing and emotional opening ceremony on the Thursday at the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Centre with performances from the North Lanarkshire schools pipe band and X Factor contestant Nicky McDonald, a busy programme of 23 sports commenced entertaining both the 750 competitors and 2000 spectators alike. The inclusive event welcomed 39 adult and 14 children’s teams with the youngest competitor three-year-old runner Jack Morris-Piney who received part of his father Jack Snr’s liver, while World Transplant squash champion Michael Gibbons from Leeds, who is alive thanks to his wife Ann, lined up at the age of 81. The event that took place across various venues in Lanarkshire was hailed for its impressive showcase of both high level and participant sport and for their role in creating the discussion around joining the organ donation register. Sports included athletics, swimming, marathoning, golf, archery, virtual triathlon, table tennis, snooker, squash, darts, volleyball, fishing, badminton and football amongst many more.

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04/08/2017 14:07


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04/08/2017 14:36


Words by Azeem Amir

A FIRST FOR AZEEM IN HAMBURG

Talented blind footballer Azeem Amir is an 18-year-old man whose ambition, motivation and positivity knows no bounds. Here, the OnTrack columnist talks about starting university, addressing The Teenage Cancer Trust and jetting to Hamburg for a European clash.

AZEEM JETS TO HAMBURG FOR FIRST MATCH ON FOREIGN SOIL

I

t’s been a whirlwind couple of months for me, having finished my A Levels and now preparing to embark on university life. Before my exams, I made the decision to give up football and running and all the associated social activities for six weeks so that I could focus on my studies, often revising into the early hours. It was definitely worth it. My eight exams all went really well and I have achieved the grades I need, and more, to secure a place on the Business Management with Sport degree course at the University of Salford. I’ve been speaking to them about how they can support me in my learning and my football and I’ve been putting a lot of effort into getting a plan in place that will hopefully see me competing at Tokyo 2020.

on the payroll by now. It keeps me active and I get the pleasure of working with children who want to participate in sport. I’m currently working with Link4Life – an organisation that provides different sessions for kids to get them active in the burgh of Rochdale. I was recently invited by the Teenage Cancer Trust to a black-tie dinner at the Manchester Hilton Hotel to give a talk about the need for fundraising and how important it is for young people my age who have been diagnosed with cancer. It was humbling to talk to children about how they are getting through treatment and all the challenges that entails, including having to take time off school. They were incredibly positive and really inspired me. I have been training every day in preparation for the new season and it is

going really well compared to this time last year. I am playing against Japan’s national blind squad as part of the National League team at St George’s Park. I feel I am at a higher level than I was when I met the Turkish national side in April. It should be a good experience and a learning curve. I recently received a call from one of the coaches who wants me to be part of the squad going to Hamburg in September just before I start uni to play in a four-day tournament. The team includes some England players and developing players. It means I’m getting recognition that I’m doing well from people who want to help me develop. It’ll be the first time I play football abroad – something I couldn’t have imagined a year ago. Hopefully I can learn from others and use the experience to develop as a player and a person. I’ll admit it, though – it’s nerve wracking!

Aside from my degree, I’ll be doing a blind football coaching course. Participants are challenged over how to coach blind football by putting themselves in a blind footballer’s shoes, even going so far as to ask them to make a cup of tea blindfolded. There are common misconceptions about blind football when training. There’s no clapping or whistling during play, for example, with the focus on verbal communication commands. Each season, my coaching is improving. A year ago, I didn’t think I’d be a lead coach

AZEEM (CENTRE) LOOKING SHARP AT THE BLACK TIE DINNER FOR THE TEENAGE CANCER TRUST

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04/08/2017 09:32


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The three-in-one Worker Bag from lifestyle brand Vel-Oh was originally created for those commuting by bicycle and incorporated four key elements: waterproof, lightweight, stylish and versatile. Those elements have helped make it popular as an everyday bag, perfect for the office and just great as a weekend or flight bag. The Worker has adjustable cotton webbing straps allowing it to be used as a back pack, tote bag or regular carry bag. A capacity of 30 litres gives plenty of space and side poppers keep the bag looking neat. There are two side bottle pockets and a padded 15inch laptop pouch. Made from high quality heavyweight 100% waxed cotton from British Millerain to keep the contents dry, super strong magnets on the top and front pouch ensure that those contents are safe and sound. There is a leather front pouch pocket with an easy access pocket carrying an embossed Vel-oh logo as well as a large embossed leather back panel.

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SPOTEEE Medimotion is proud to announce the addition of Spoteee, a great way to enhance your movement therapy experience. Spoteee is a video system that allows you to journey through a series of beautiful and stimulating locations from around the world and motivate your daily training. Available with the purchase of new machines or as a retrofit accessory. The Spoteee package includes a minicomputer with 30 stunning HQ videos, remote control and cables for your MOTOmed and TV or monitor.

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www.shopdirect.com www.very.co.uk magazine.co.uk | 37

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LONDON 2017

HAT-TRICK FOR

SAMMI Images © Mark Davidson

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LONDON 2017

Words by Colette Carr

“N

o and I’m not sure it will either,” beamed golden girl Sammi Kinghorn when asked if it had all sunk in yet, still on a high from smashing a world record and claiming her first major medals at London 2017. “It’s crazy!” the 21-year-old told OnTrack Magazine. Sammi, a T53 wheelchair racer who became paralysed from the waist down at 14 in an accident on her family’s farm, has had quite the breakthrough year culminating in London at the World Para Athletics Championships – and now she wants to see the 2019 Championships back in the capital. Kinghorn stormed to victory in her trademark pink chair in the T53 200m to topple the world record to 28.61 seconds before grabbing her second gold in the 100m final with a time of 16.65 seconds, plus scooping the bronze in her least favoured 400m - all in the Olympic Stadium to which British Athletics are working on bringing back the Worlds. “It’s hard for para athletes because we don’t get great crowds, so it’d be amazing if they come back and hopefully it’ll keep the popularity going. It’d be great to bring it back and get even bigger crowds,” she enthused. “You need to keep it going! None of our other events are on telly and that’s where it’s tough for the rest of the year so it’s about keeping it out there.” For self-confessed “new girl on the block” Sammi, the scores of fans in Stratford were a world away from her experiences in Rio last summer and other competitions. And despite having not competed back in 2012 as Paralympic fever gripped the nation, the overwhelming support didn’t come as a surprise after speaking to her London 2012 alumni teammates. “Competing in front of that many people was incredible, it did give me a massive boost because I do get really nervous before my races, but then when they were running down the line at the start, I got the biggest scream! It makes you feel a bit better, you can puff up your chest a bit more and think, ‘they’re here for me, this is my home games’ and it makes you feel that bit more confident. “They’d all said about how that stadium was

brilliant in that even if the crowds weren’t that big, the stadium just seems to throw the noise into the middle and told me to be prepared for a really loud scream,” she shared.

allowing her to enjoy her racing and take the experience in.

The Red Star Athletics sprinter had already enjoyed an incredible 2017 even before the highs of last month.

“I enjoyed that one because I had already achieved more than I had expected so I thought this was my time to enjoy my two laps on the track and try and soak it in!”

In preparation for the meet, Sammi flew out to Arizona for what would be an exceptional leg of the Grand Prix for her. Her five-star performance saw her rack up no fewer than five golds and a 200m world record, but despite the stateside success, she exceeded even her own expectations on her home turf and couldn’t quite believe the feats she achieved. “We’d been on the track down there for a couple of days before. I didn’t feel very fast and I prefer a really hard track that would roll faster,” she admitted. “At the end of the 200m, I knew I had won and was so excited and was screaming because I was so happy, but it wasn’t until I came back around again and they said, ‘Can we get a photo of you for the world record?’ “I was like, what? I’ve got a world record? I didn’t even know about it during my lap of honour, so it was pretty cool! I was really, really chuffed and I still think I can go faster! “So, I had my lap saying, ‘oh my goodness,’ and then I had that excitement again from the surprise and shouted, ‘oh no way!’,” she recalled. Her happy disbelief overcame her despite her developing a morning mantra of ‘I’m as good these girls’ following failing to make the podium in Rio, where she watched her competitors revel in the glory, telling herself, ‘one day I want to be up there, I want to be the best in the world.’ It was that resolve that launched the Scot into her most successful period yet,

“The 800m was my last and I think I was ranked sixth going in and I came fifth, so it was amazing to come in at that nicely.

For track athletes like Sammi, these competitions present a long gruelling schedule, meaning tactics must be spot on when planning the week. “With the 100m, 200m and even the 400m it’s just go out as hard as you can and try and stay out but for the 800m I couldn’t talk about it before, because you don’t know your lane draws or anything so you don’t where you’ll be or who else has entered. “You find that out the day before and then you plan how hard you’re going to go out, who you’re going to try and stick behind,” she explained. But there’s not much time for any more celebrations, as the newly crowned world champion looks to turn her hand to marathoning for Gold Coast 2018, before having another crack at the Paralympics in Tokyo 2020. “I’m going to try and qualify for the Commonwealth Games. None of my sprints have been selected, so I’m going to try for the marathon, so it’s slightly different to what I normally do, but it’d be fun to get out there and try that. “Tokyo is obviously on my mind too because it’d be back to my events and I’d love to get the sub 16 seconds. “I’ve three years to try and do it which would be amazing, but it’ll be tough. No one has ever done it, so we’ll wait and see!” teased the ambitious and optimistic Sammi. Watch this space.

I WAS LIKE, WHAT? I’VE GOT A WORLD RECORD? I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT IT DURING MY LAP OF HONOUR, SO IT WAS PRETTY COOL! magazine.co.uk | 39

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04/08/2017 09:35


HIGH ROPES

Words by Colette Carr Thrill seekers and daredevils in wheelchairs can experience new heights and enjoy the exhilarating adrenaline rush of high ropes in what is believed to be a UK first at Calvert Trust’s beautiful Lake District site.

W

heelchair users can now unleash their adventurous side, traversing across the high ropes as the breath-taking scenery surrounds you and the ground falls away beneath you. Calvert Trust’s Justin Farnan shared the thrilling new adventure that is set to be included in their residential stays.

land on offer to create a safe yet exciting course environment.

“From September onwards, chair users’ high ropes will be incorporated into our standard activity courses,” began Justin.

But while it is the first of its kind, it has been in the works for quite some time, as Justin explains.

“It was introduced a couple of months ago and we’ve been doing training and testing and had a group from BackUp Trust come up in May to test it for us.

“The company we commissioned to build it Technical Outdoor Solutions assure us it is the first in the UK that is wheelchair accessible and we’ve not been contradicted to date.

“The wheelchair accessible part can be used by people in manual self-propelled chairs but not in mechanical chairs,” he explained. The ambitious course is thought to be a first in Britain and was designed and built by Technical Outdoor Solutions who have expertly adapted existing models used in these projects and carefully used the

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“It’s something we’ve been looking at doing for a long time and the site here has some challenges in terms of accessibility. It is built on quite a severe slope, however, that does work in our favour sometimes. “We already have a wheelchair accessible zipwire where - unsurprisingly – you go up one level and drop down to another

both of which can be accessed by ramps and the same is true with the high ropes course. “It starts on the same level as the zip wire, but as it is built on the side of a hill, you access it from the ground as it were, but as you go out horizontally, the high ropes course drops below you so you are accessing it from solid ground rather than having to be hoisted up to a platform. You don’t technically gain any height as the

magazine.co.uk

04/08/2017 09:36


HIGH ROPES

The high ropes course will be part of a multiactivity break with us, so it’s not something that we do in isolation - it’s part of a wider activity break.

The physical surroundings are also beneficial to the mental health of a user, while physical benefits are abundant too, with strength, balance and co-ordination all being boosted through partaking. Appetite for the new activity was tested in a special weekend at the end of June but those seeking the rush of the suspended ropes will have to take it in as part of the specialist residential stays put on by the Trust.

40 YEARS OF THE CALVERT TRUST With over 40 years’ experience in delivering challenging outdoor adventure holidays for people with disabilities, the Lake District Calvert Trust is a residential outdoor centre on the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District National Park. With accessible accommodation and school, group, family and individual stays on offer, learning, sensory and physical disabilities are catered for, including complex needs which aren’t catered for elsewhere. Friends and carers are welcomed along.

Justin said: “The high ropes course will be part of a multi-activity break with us, so it’s not something that we do in isolation it’s part of a wider activity break. ground drops, but you gain height above ground level.” There are numerous advantages to leaving the ground and taking to higher heights from mental to physical. From connecting to nature to boosting selfesteem, the mental health benefits are endless. Some wheelchair users may be reluctant at first to attempt the course through nervousness in the activity or a fear of heights. But a successful crossing can increase confidence in taking on new and challenging activities, dismiss fear and give wheelchair users a newfound sense of self-assurance in their body and spatial awareness. The adrenaline rush releases endorphins which improve your mood and offers a sense of confidence and excitement.

“For example, if a chair user came on one of our breaks in the autumn aimed at adults with physical disabilities, there’s a strong probability they would do the high ropes course on the assumption they are in a manual self-propelled wheelchair, as well as things like the zip wire or canoeing or our other activities!” Excitement has built around the venture, leading to greater interest in the centre itself. “We had a number of people ring up to talk about it and once they have spoken about the high ropes, we tell them about the other things we do and they subsequently book a midweek activity break where they do get to do other activities as well!” For more information about Calvert Trust or the high ropes course, visit www.calvert-trust.org.uk.

magazine.co.uk

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04/08/2017 15:01


BREAKING BARRIERS

Words by Joe Harman

INTRODUCING BREAKING BARRIERS

Joe Harman is a rehabilitation therapist, specialist personal trainer and sports massage therapist. He is also director of Breaking Barriers, a rehabilitation and fitness business which he founded based in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire. OnTrack is pleased to welcome Joe as our new regular columnist.

A

s an introduction to our column, I wanted to let you know a bit about us and what we do. Breaking Barriers provides neuro-physiotherapy, specialist personal training, sports massage and osteopathic spinal manipulation for people experiencing injury, illness or disability. We support people experiencing physical injury, sports injuries, running injuries, head injury, stroke, neurological illness, chronic pain, back pain, arthritis, diabetes, obesity issues, autism, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, or any other personal challenges that cause a barrier to physical health/activity or fitness. Breaking Barriers focuses on rehabilitation-based physical activities utilising physiotherapy, specialist training or sport massage targeting: movement, mobility, flexibility, muscle tone, strength, balance, core strength, pain reduction, reducing aches, pains and discomfort and more. We also support increasing fitness through varied physical gym-based activities. As the creator of Breaking Barriers, I am passionate about motivating and inspiring people facing their own challenges, to improve their physical abilities through rehabilitation or fitness sessions. I experienced my own challenges after a serious road accident seven years ago, and I worked hard through my own rehabilitation to recover.

fitness field and through my experiences I can empathise and understand some of the challenges my clients face, whilst also motivating clients to achieve more than they may think is possible to break through barriers to achieve their goals. Last year, I set myself a new challenge and ran the London Marathon for the Brain and Spine Foundation. I also received a national award for the work of Breaking Barriers in supporting people with disabilities in fitness and rehabilitation.

including being the first gym in the UK to offer a state of the art SMARC cardio rehabilitation machine. We can also visit clients in their own homes or in their own local gyms. We will work to support our clients as well as working alongside family members, carers/support workers or professionals such as physiotherapists, to provide the best interventions.

We now see clients in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Surrey and London and have been expanding our sports massage services in Birmingham and West Midlands.

We are excited to be bringing you this regular column, with the support of our fantastic team including Akshay Patel, neuro-physiotherapist and Mike Rayner, sports massage therapist. We have some great ideas of topics we would like to share with you but we would also love to hear from you – what would you like to hear about, what would you like advice and support with, what topics could we cover? Do get in touch.

We offer our Breaking Barriers private one-to-one gym facility for our clients. We have a range of equipment available

For more information please call 07581 039611 or visit www.breakingbarriers.fitness

JOE SUPPORTING BREAKING BARRIERS CLIENT WENDY WITH HER CYCLING GOALS

This inspired me to retrain in the

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04/08/2017 09:38


LONDON 2017

HOMECOMING

HEROES

WORLD PARA CHAMPIONSHIPS LONDON 2017

Images © Mark Davidson

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04/08/2017 09:39


LONDON 2017

RICHARD WHITEHEAD Words by Mark Davidson

I

t is nearly 9 o’clock on a Friday evening, 14th of July 2017, and the large crowd in the Olympic Stadium is hushed in anticipation of the sprint that is about to unfold. Hannah Cockroft is to go for gold in the women’s T34 100m wheelchair race. A few seconds later, with the race won, she realises she’s broken her own world record, taking gold in a time of 17.18 seconds with 16-year-old teammate Kare Adenegan finishing second in 18.01 seconds. It was just one race on the opening evening that would make the next 10 days of competition the most successful in the history of the World Para Athletics Championships. Like London 2012, the venue was the same and featured many of the same athletes who went onto become household names. However, one familiar star who wasn’t competing was David Weir, who had announced his retirement prior to the championships and now has a new career as a commentator. Yet there were still many more athletes capable of creating their own piece of history.

SOPHIE HAHN To start the opening evening, the crowd was treated to a firework display which set off the 8th World Para Athletics Championships in London. Sir Philip Craven, the outgoing president of the IPC and London Mayor Sadiq Khan opened proceedings with speeches to the enthusiastic crowd. With the organisers confirming the event had the biggest audience in world para sport history, the events on the track did not disappoint the crowds. Para athletics has a number of classifications and there are at least 30 different 100m races alone for men and women reflecting the different categories in disability sport, ranging from partially sighted athletes to those in wheelchairs.

LUKASZ MAMCZARZ There were many outstanding performances in both the track and field and unlike able-bodied events in athletics, the para games are often seen as a true test of how athletes can overcome adversity to compete at a world-class level. Besides events on the track, there was also a championship record and gold for Ukraine’s Zoia Ovsii in the women’s F51 club throw with an effort of 23.74m. It wasn’t to be for reigning champion, Team GB’s Joanne Butterfield as American Rachel Morrison pushed the British athlete out of bronze medal position with her final throw. Elsewhere on the opening weekend, there was success for many athletes including

UNLIKE ABLE-BODIED EVENTS IN ATHLETICS, THE PARA GAMES ARE OFTEN SEEN AS A TRUE TEST OF HOW ATHLETES CAN OVERCOME ADVERSITY magazine.co.uk | 45

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LONDON 2017

MARIA LYLE the diminutive figure of Raoua Tlili of Tunisia in the women’s T41 discus who threw a championship record of 32.29m. Britain had its first success in the field with Stef Reid getting gold in the women’s F44 long jump, jumping 5.40m and this was followed up on the Saturday evening with Hollie Arnold who became world champion in the F46 javelin winning gold, saying: “That was a fantastic series for me, I went out there to smash it and I did. It was great to get the world record. I knew that the fourth throw was close but I wasn’t sure if I’d got it and the support of the crowd was absolutely amazing.” On Sunday, Aled Davies won gold in the men’s discus throw F42 final. Reflecting on his efforts, he said: “This probably wasn’t my best performance but it doesn’t matter how far I throw as it is about winning the gold medal. That is what it’s all about. In the British team, we’re all in the same boat where anything could happen, so it’s never easy. But as I’ve been here so many times, in this stadium, with this crowd, I’m always confident.” For Great Britain’s other representative in the discus, however, this time in the F44 category, it wasn’t a successful competition. Dan Greaves finished out of the medals and commented: “This is heart

MARCEL HUG breaking. I have been consistent this year and I don’t know what happened. Loads of people have been supporting me and this is such a strange feeling. I feel I have let so many people down. It’s awful but the support has been incredible. And for me not to deliver a performance I know I am capable of is so frustrating. “ Paralympic sport, like any other, has had its fair share of controversy and Germany’s Markus Rehm is trying to compete in able-bodied sport. He is the Paralympic and world champion along with being the world record holder in the T44 long jump. His personal best jump of 8.40m would have seen him win gold at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. Despite a partisan crowd, every athlete was cheered on during each event and when Michael McKillop of Ireland won gold in the men´s 800m T38 final the decibel levels were raised up a notch. On his victory, he said: “There is no

EVERY ATHLETE WAS CHEERED ON DURING EACH EVENT AND WHEN MICHAEL MCKILLOP OF IRELAND WON GOLD IN THE MEN’S 800M T38 FINAL THE DECIBEL LEVELS WERE RAISED UP A NOTCH 46

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HANNAH COCKROFT better feeling coming on the track right after your best friend has just won his world title and it helped me a lot to see Jason Smyth winning a gold. I am very privileged and humbled to be back at the Olympic Stadium. It is my stadium really, because I was the first person to break the world record in here, so I guess I have a real sense of history and I will always call it my home.” Unlike the forthcoming World Championships, the medal ceremonies took place in a specially built medal plaza within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It allowed members of the public to see all of the competitors receive their medals in front of large crowds outside the stadium. It added to what has become a fantastic venue for athletics and many of the athletes said they thought London was the best ever games, with the general consensus that it should host the games again in two years’ time. The blue riband events at the athletics are the 100m races involving athletes with lower leg amputations, commonly

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LONDON 2017 Images © Mark Davidson

TATYANA MCFADDEN

OLIVIA BREEN a very painful run but it meant a lot,” she admitted.

HOLLIE ARNOLD known as the ‘blade runners’. One of team GB’s stars in these classifications is Jonnie Peacock. Up against the American duo of Jarryd Wallace and Jerome Singleton, he won the gold in the men’s 100m T44 final with a time of 10.75 seconds. As the gold rush kept coming, Scott Reardon of Australia won gold in the men’s 100m T42 final but Richard Whitehead could only come third in the same race, adding bronze to his previous gold medal in the T42 200m. Despite being victorious previously, he was in a different mood after this latest event. “The false start didn’t help me but I’m still gutted. I’ll be back from this,” he pledged. “I’m not really a 100m runner or a 200m runner, I’m an athlete, but 12.21 seconds for the winner is not taking the event forward.” Kadeena Cox won gold in the women’s 400m T38 final and was ecstatic with her victory.

“This was for a lot of people. I may have got carried away in the first 200 metres and I knew the last 100 metres would kill me, but I got through and a win is a win. This makes up a bit for the 200m, which was just lack of races. But when you don’t do yourself justice, it’s disappointing.” Elsewhere for team GB, Sophie Kamlish broke the world record in the heats of the women’s T44 100m and went onto take gold in the final. Over the duration of the 10 days which saw the most successful World Para Athletics Championships ever, there were plenty of other remarkable achievements. In events such as the men’s high jump T42 final, athletes like the American Sam Grew, who has just one leg and competes wearing a blade was able to clear the bar at a height of 1.86, a championship record.

events. In the javelin, athletes usually run up to the throw line and launch it into the distance. However, Akeem just took one step forward and produced a throw in excess of 50 metres, much to the amazement of everyone in the stadium. He then followed that up by breaking the world record in the shot put by nearly 5m with a throw of 19.08m. As the games drew to a close, the public were treated to the spectacle of the relays in the different classifications with the unusual situation of a silent stadium whilst those who compete in the T11-T13 classifications were racing. These athletes are either partially sighted or totally blind and rely on the coaches and fellow competitors to scream and shout at them telling them when to hand over the baton. It was the only time during the entire event that the crowd sat in total silence. The noise level rose once the competitors crossed the line and were able to complete their lap of honour. It was a fitting end to what had become another major milestone in Paralympic sport. n

Not only did British athletes excite the crowds, but Akeem Stewart of Trinidad and Tobago stunned the audience in both the javelin and shotput

“I’m absolutely shattered. That was

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INVICTUS GAMES

Image © Getty Images for Jaguar Land Rover at the Invictus Games London 2014

I AM INVICTUS GAMES J J (John James) Chalmers is a BBC presenter, Invictus Games medallist and Royal Marine veteran. JJ served in Helmand, Afghanistan, as a marine reservist with 42 Commando and after sustaining devastating injuries in a bomb blast in 2011, he went on to win medals in cycling and track for Britain at the Invictus Games in 2014. JJ will be part of the BBC’s presenting team for the Invictus Games 2017. He is also part of the BBC’s Fast Track development programme, part of the corporation’s commitment to developing a strong cohort of presenters with disabilities on the BBC. In September, the Invictus Games will return to the BBC. JJ talks about why the games is so special and looks back at some inspirational moments from previous games.

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ABOUT THE INVICTUS GAMES The 2017 Invictus Games is a para sport event for wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans, which will be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from September 23 to 30. Seventeen nations will participate.

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INVICTUS GAMES

INVICTUS GAMES

INTERVIEW: JJ CHALMERS

WHAT DOES THE INVICTUS GAMES MEAN TO YOU?

WHAT WILL VIEWERS AT HOME GET OUT OF WATCHING THIS YEAR’S GAMES? The amazing thing about Invictus is that you will get what you want from it, in the same way as a competitor. If you want to be motivated, if you’re a sportsperson, whether you’re disabled or not, and you want some form of inspiration, you will find that because it oozes inspiration. If you’re just watching it because you like sport, then you will be equally entertained because it is a level playing field. These guys and girls are training extremely hard and will be at the highest level. It’s not just for disabled people, it’s not just for the military. It really is something that anybody can relate to. Yes, these people are soldiers, yes, they are disabled, but actually what they are is human beings.

Image © BBC

The wonderful thing from my involvement with Invictus is it’s been an absolute evolution. In 2014 as a competitor, it meant being a sportsperson and focusing on my sport and reaping the benefits of being part of a team and having a goal and being motivated, being fit again and just feeling like a chunk of my life which had been taken from me, which was serving in the military, I was given back, but in a different way. There were so many parallels within it, like the teamwork, being a leader again. Invictus is still one of the best weeks of my life and that moment when I won my medal was like no other, especially as I crossed the line with my two friends and we were all awarded the gold medal and that was a very special moment in the history of Invictus.

INVICTUS GAMES BBC PRESENTER, JJ CHALMERS ON THE COUCH

WHAT ARE THE FIVE MOST INSPIRATIONAL MOMENTS FOR YOU FROM PAST INVICTUS GAMES?

1

Dave Henson, who was captain of the UK Armed Forces team in 2014, has gone on to be a Paralympic bronze medallist at the World Championships. He was amazing in 2014 when he did his 200m at the first Games. He put in this incredible performance that made a lot of people prick up their ears and take note. He’d lost his leg only three years before and now he’s putting down times that are not far off Paralympic times and everybody said to him you can be a real contender

for Tokyo. He pledged to do it by Rio, which he did two years later and won a medal. Invictus is not about elite sport, it’s very inclusive, but there are people within it who have potential as elite sportspeople. The exciting thing about Toronto is wondering who might be the next guy, who’s going to be the person who puts down the time that we can go on to see in Tokyo, that we can see in Paris in 2024, and what sport and country will that come from.

2

Another amazing story that completely encapsulates Invictus is that of US Army Sergeant Elizabeth Marks, who also went on to become a Paralympian. She won a gold medal 

IF YOU’RE A SPORTSPERSON, WHETHER YOU’RE DISABLED OR NOT, AND YOU WANT SOME FORM OF INSPIRATION, YOU WILL FIND THAT BECAUSE IT OOZES INSPIRATION.

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I AM INVICTUS GAMES Images © Getty Images for Jaguar Land Rover at the Invictus Games London 2014

in the 2016 Orlando Games in swimming. In fact she won several, but one of the medals she famously gave back to Prince Harry after he awarded it to her because, before the 2014 Games, she had flown from America to compete and became ill with a lung condition. She ended up in Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, fighting for her life. Arrangements were being made to repatriate her but she pulled through. She handed the gold medal back a few years later and asked Prince Harry to give it to the hospital because she felt that she wouldn’t be here if not for the doctors and nurses that put her back together. It encapsulates the Invictus spirit – you can win a medal but it’s not only you who wins. It’s everybody who pulls together to put you there.

point, back and forth, anyone could have won it right up until the final second. Thankfully the British team were the champions. I’ve never sat on the end of my chair quite as much and constantly wanted to get on my feet, it was just incredible.

4

One of my favourite memories was the 2016 opening ceremony. It all has a meaning and is all tied into the military. One of the guys who shared his story as part of the coverage was Louis Nethercott, who experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. He saved my life in Afghanistan and came to the Games in 2014 to watch me and his friends take part. He had never

competed at the Invictus Games, but as a result of watching it and seeing his friends overcoming physical injuries, it inspired him to begin to deal with his own psychological issues.

5

Power lifter Micky Yule was by 2016 a Paralympian. He could have very easily beaten the competition in that he could have lifted five more kilos than anybody else without even trying. But instead, on that day, he lifted a personal best. So, it was about not just winning that medal, but using that opportunity with the atmosphere to push himself to his absolute limit instead of taking the easy way out just to secure the medal. It really was an amazing moment. n

3

The wheelchair rugby final from 2014, Great Britain vs USA, is probably still the best live team sport I’ve ever watched. I was there in the Copper Box Arena and the sound, environment and energy was unbelievable. The match was point for

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