I was completing against people I knew as teammates in GB teams. At the Commonwealths we were rivals, competing for different home nations against each other.
We were soon friends again after the competition though.
The other thing about the Commonwealths is the clear difference in the developing nations in our events – but that’s not a criticism. The Games help to give opportunities for those countries to bring developing athletes and give them the opportunity to complete at a global, multi-sport event.
A chance for change
I think that any event that can act as an opportunity to raise the profile of the disability sport is a positive thing.
Obviously, it is great to be able to showcase elite events, and what para athletes can achieve. But it’s also important to show people the range of sports that disabled people can participate and compete in.
I know that sport can change your life, you can travel the world!
But it opens so many possibilities in life, even if you don’t make it through to elite level, just being involved in sport is fantastic, and so much fun.
Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in sport and be active – sport should be accessible and open to everyone.
It is important that young disabled people and their parents to see other disabled people involved in sport, to help them realise that sport is for them.
I went to the Paralympics in Barcelona to watch as a youngster, and it really inspired me to give athletics a go – something I had not done before.
Not everyone is going to be a top athlete, but everyone should be able to have a go at a range of sports.
The Commonwealths, like the Paralympics, showcases a wide range of events. There are lots of sports to get involved in.
There were 42 gold medals awarded in para events, across eight sports.
I hope it will inspire disabled people, especially you people at school and their parents/carers to see a range of sports and help them to realise that sport is for them.
Disabled people should be able to access all kinds of sports and find something that they like to do. Hopefully they can see all the different sports and have the confidence to have a go.
I also hope that people that are involved in running sport (coaches, officials and volunteers in all roles) have watched these Games and see how disabled people can play and compete in a range of sports, and that they take time to consider whether their clubs or activities are accessible for disabled people in their local community.
I hope they reflect on the range of disabled people they’ve seen at the Games and ask themselves what they can do to support more disabled people to get involved in their activities or clubs.
Mostly, I hope people stop and ask themselves:
- do we have disabled people in our club/sport/activities?
- is what we offer accessible?
- how could we do more to promote our sessions to disabled (young) people?
We need to ensure that all sports and clubs/activities are accessible for disabled people to get involved and to get involved in spectating too.
Because of my cerebral palsy I use a chair every day now and I find it hard to watch my young son play football for his club, as not all venues are accessible.
This is hard for me, as I want to be there to support him.
Disabled people need to be able to access sport on all levels in all ways.