How did you get into sport?
My parents introduced me to Judo in order to help boost my confidence. Although not immediately talented, I worked as hard as I could in training and had a real passion to succeed. After two years I won my first medal. My determination and perseverance paid off and I received my first international selection in 1989 whilst still in my last year at secondary school.
What was the biggest challenge you overcame?
I was born with childhood eye cancer (retinoblastoma) and lost my left eye and most of the sight in my right. After many operations I was left with a facial disfigurement and had to wear thick glasses. At the age of seven, my self-esteem was low and I was often teased at school about my appearance. Within three months of taking up the sport I had an improved sense of self-belief and was a much more determined individual.
What are your three biggest achievements in sport?
- 2004 Athens Paralympic Games - Silver
- 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games - Bronze
- 1995 World Champion.
Who most inspired you and why?
My parents are a big inspiration in my life and the reason I found the sport of Judo. I also remember following other judoka on their own journeys to Olympic success. Two that inspired me to aim higher are Neil Adams and Ray Stevens, both Olympic medallists.
When and why did you get involved with the Athlete Mentor programme?
For many years I lived and breathed sport at the highest level and experienced first-hand how sport can change lives. I joined the Athlete Mentor team in 2012 with the hope to inspire and motivate young people to try something new and to strive to be their own best.
What has been your favourite moment as a YST Athlete Mentor?
I don’t think I can pick one particular event or moment that stands out as a favourite, but my work as an Athlete Mentor on the Step Into Sport/Projectability programme gives me a massive sense of reward. Watching and facilitating main stream students to mix, learn and have fun with their disabled peers with huge smiles on their faces is exactly why I started working with the YST.