Sport: Team GB Para-Rower
What is your disability?
I’m an incomplete spinal injury T67. My spinal injury is a broken back and incomplete means I have some sensation in my lower legs and some movement in my hip flexors and abdominal muscles.
How did you get your injury?
My injury was due to an allergic reaction to morphine, which caused lack of oxygen and caused three strokes, then later on caused seizures which affected my spine at the age of 12.
How did you get into your sport?
I’ve always been sporty, I was sporty before I had my injury, then I came into para-athletics after my injury because someone said I couldn’t do it, so I did it just to prove them wrong. I then ended up competing at International level, before changing sports from athletics to rowing in 2014.
What do you most love about your sport?
I enjoy travelling because you pretty much get to see the world, I’ve been to three different continents and you do see completely different cultures, you see different people.
What are your experiences of equality in sport?
I have experienced inequality in sport, due to how people perceive para-sport sometimes, not always, but sometimes at a lesser level because we don’t have the same distances, same times, same metres we row. Sometimes we have our own events, when they should be keeping us together so it’s a parallel, the Paralympics is parallel to the Olympics, it’s what it should be. TV coverage, it’s the same, the Olympics was on BBC Sport, Paralympics had Channel 4, there was 24 channels for BBC, there was only one for Paralympics, so it’s completely unfair. The UK and Israel, they’re pretty good, yet other countries such as USA aren’t brilliant, you get a lot of middle-eastern countries, they perceive those people to be the same level as animals. If you’re not full bodied then you’ve brought shame to your family, that’s what some of them think and that’s what some countries perceive, so there is inequality.
Inequality is getting better, so there is less inequality now but there is still quite a lot, due to, some people will be ‘I’ll ignore you, you’re not here’ and other people will try and be like my Mum, where they’re like “do you want me to push you everywhere?” The answer is no, because I can push, I have arms, it’s only my legs that don’t work. You get some people who don’t talk to you, they talk to the person with you instead, because they perceive you as unable to talk or unable to communicate because you’re in a wheelchair, my brain and my mouth isn’t paralysed, it’s only my legs.
It has improved, people are getting better because of adverts, you’ve got Paralympics, you’ve got the Superhumans adverts, they’re kind of getting you more into para-sport and it’s not just there, there is an actual reason for it and we’re the same athletes, we just have adaptions, that’s the only difference.
What are your aims?
My aim and aspiration within my sport is to get to the Tokyo Paralympics, then after that I’m done, I’ll retire after that, I don’t want to do more than one. It’s a big commitment to go another four years, I don’t think my body would take it if I’m honest, I’ve already had two major injuries with ribs and sternum and fractures.