“You have too many lesions on your brain for someone your age. So basically you have MS, your life as you know it is over, so I would suggest you go home and put your affairs in order before you become incapacitated. Oh and this silly sport stuff you do, well you will never do that again.”
These were the words I heard on April 23rd, 1998. So who would have thought that 18 years later I would be heading to my 2nd Paralympic Games, certainly not that doctor! I was surprised to go to my first games in 2012 and even more surprised to win a Gold Medal. So a dream I had since the age of 9 had come true…representing my country at the highest level.
Not sure of what would happen after the London 2012 games, I have taken it a year at a time, so I am very proud to be able to say that I am going to my second games. It amazes me, this journey I have been on. I have become part of an incredible ‘family’ of sorts. A small group of people on the planet that get a chance to be part of this family, and it doesn’t matter what country you come from, what religion you are, what sex you are or even what part of your body is either missing or doesn’t work well, we all seem to be one. We have all spent years of hard work, determination, sweat, dedication and commitment to become part of this family.
I will be giving it my all come September 14th and 16th when I race in Rio, as will all of my competitors. We will all be aiming for that Gold medal performance, some will attain it and others won’t. But whether we win or lose, the most important thing is about giving it your all and doing the best that you can, after all that’s what all the hard work for the last 4 years have been about and all the years before that!
That first doctor was wrong on a number of different points, but he was right when he said that ‘my life as I knew it was over’, except he was thinking of it in a bad way and I like to think of it in a good way. My life as I knew it is over, but the journey over the last 18 years has been incredible, exciting, unpredictable and so fulfilling that I can’t wait to see what the next 18 years hold!