Paralympics can change perceptions

In the final countdown to the Paralympic Games, Marc Woods, Paralympic gold medallist, talks to us about his hopes on the future of inclusive sport.

Marc Woods is one of the most decorated Paralympians Great Britain has ever seen. His 17 years of competition in swimming saw him win a staggering 12 Paralympic medals from five Games, with four of those being gold.

Now retired from the sport, Marc is a board member for the Youth Sport Trust and during the Paralympic Games you will regularly be hearing his voice on BBC Radio 5 Live as he offers opinion, expertise and insight into the world of elite Paralympic sport.

"We saw with the London Olympic Games the power that sport has to capture the imagination and excitement of the country," said Marc."I expect the nation to be gripped in equal measure by the sporting endeavours of the world's finest athletes at the Paralympics. Importantly though, I believe these Games offer a real opportunity to challenge the public's perception of disability.

"We will see some stunning sporting achievements and you will hear of many competitors who have overcome extreme adversity to take their rightful place on the greatest podium in sport. These inspirational stories should act as a showcase to prove that disability is not a barrier. Disabled people should not be seen for what they can't achieve, but admired for what they can achieve."

Marc has a truly inspirational story of his own to tell. As a promising teenage swimmer he was diagnosed with cancer at the age of seventeen and had to have his left leg amputated. Yet rather than set him back, it spurred him on in his quest for success in sport. Within days of the stitches being removed Marc was back in the pool training and within a year he was swimming quicker with one leg than he did when he had two.

His passion for sport, and his understanding of the power that sport has to changes the lives of young people, is why Marc now sits on the board at the Youth Sport Trust.

"For young people at school who have a disability life can be tough. I want the Paralympics to demonstrate to these youngsters that if they really want to be the best, they can have the same dreams and aspirations as everyone else."

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