Born and raised in Nottingham in the UK with a double through- knee congenital amputation, I developed a passion for sport at an early age. My parents encouraged me to participate in sports and taught me to live a life without limits.
In 2004 I dreamt of running a marathon and signed up for the New York Marathon having never run a mile. Spurred on by the death of my best friend Simon whom we had lost to an aggressive form of bone cancer and also by amputee Terry Fox who had died from a similar bone cancer before completing his own running challenge across Canada, I knew I wanted to run to challenge myself and to raise awareness and funds for Sarcoma. At the time, I had no prosthetic running legs and was running on my knees using sports cups which was extremely gruelling and painful. At the 11th hour only 13 days before the New York Marathon, Ossur heard about my story and fitted me with my first running blades and I successfully completed my first marathon.
Driven by a desire to compete in sport as a professional athlete on the world stage and push boundaries, I was selected for the ParalympicsGB team as a sledge hockey player at the 2006 Winter Paralympic Games in Turin.
Having experienced the pride of representing my country, when news of London 2012 broke I was keen to compete in the marathon on home soil, To my great disappointment I was told by the IPC that my disability was not eligible to compete and despite writing to complain about this lack of equality they refused to allow me to race.
Undeterred, I set about re-training and set my sights on competing in the T42 200 metre category as part of the ParalmypicsGB team. As I crossed the line winning Gold I looked to the sky and dedicated my win to my friend Simon who had always supported and believed in me.
Following London 2012, I retained my Gold medal at Rio 2016 also winning Silver in the T42 100m. I have also achieved 4 x World Championship titles in 200m .
In 2019 I captained the team at the Dubai Para-Athletic World Championships and in 2020 I am focusing on competing in the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Following the euphoria of running my first marathon in New York, I have gone on to compete in many marathons around the world achieving World Champion status in the full and half marathon. An achievement I am incredibly proud of.
I love the camaraderie of the event, how it embraces all ages, all cultures, and all abilities. I think running as a disabled athlete at these events enables people to see that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.
In 2013 following my success at the London 2012 Games, I wanted to use my increased profile for good. With support from my team, friends and family and sponsors, I completed a 40 Marathons in 40 Days challenge from John O'Groats to Lands End raising money for Sarcoma UK and Scope charities.
Despite my achievements on the track and the road, for me winning isn't just about the medals. I believe strongly in the power of sport as a great unifier and leveller.
Sport has the ability to unite people and to create joy whether you are a participant or spectator and its benefits shouldn't be under estimated.
As well as the physical benefits sport brings, it equally supports positive well being and good mental health and as part of my work away from competition I am constantly working to raise awareness of these values at schools and sports clubs or at corporate and charity events when I am invited as a motivational speaker.
I also use my time to encourage others to have a positive mindset and to give back to their community. Whilst I have a physical disability, my life is rich in so many other ways and as patron of many charities and as part of my motivational speaking I like to encourage others to think about what they do have, not what they don't and to think about how they can help others and make a difference. In today's society so many are consumed with their own needs and wants and we need to focus on supporting those less fortunate.
Giving my time to encourage disabled and able bodied people to have greater belief in themselves, to challenge themselves to live a fulfilling life and reach new goals is extremely rewarding.
As a key figure in Paralympic sport I am keen to use my profile to work with governing bodies and young athletes to ensure the legacy our generation of disabled athletes has worked so hard to establish continues and that those coming down the tracks are given greater opportunities to compete, working all the time to ensure an equal playing field for disabled people in sport.
I speak regularly at a wide variety of conferences and events to both small and large audiences as a motivational speaker and my experiences as an athlete tailoring my presentation to meet your specific needs. I also run coaching workshops for sports and corporate teams. Topics include: Preparing for performance , Resilience, Diversity and inclusion, Positive mindset.
I regularly appear on wide variety of TV, radio and podcasts and in magazine and press articles.
I work as a presenter and commentator and interviewee and have also appeared on a wide number of mainstream entertainment shows including: Splash, Question of Sport, Sunday Brunch, The Chase, MasterMind etc.
I am patron of a wide and diverse range of charities. I also support as many other charity projects as I can with fundraising support, public appearances and social content. In recent years, in addition to these main charities I have worked with Meningitis Trust, and Autism Awareness and I travelled to Jordan with Medicins Sans Frontier to meet amputees from the Syrian conflict.
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