Last week I was short-listed for a CP Sport award for overcoming adversity in sport.  I’m not sure who had put me up for the award and I was pleasantly surprised.  I guess it’s nice to think someone believes you are worthy of a sporting award. Even if you are just doing what you do every day.  The nomination spoke to my condition and my achievements, but nothing specifically about any challenges I’d faced in sport. Admittedly, I’ve had a few.  But, these have not been something I’ve shared except with those close to me. (Although I alluded to some in an early lockdown blog).

What is adversity?

Over the weeks since I found out about the shortlist I’ve kept mulling over what adversity means, and ‘why me?’.  I asked myself if I had faced hardship, danger, difficulty, or adversity in sport in the previous year.

A difficult year for everyone

It has been a difficult year for everyone with Covid. I guess that my journey to Tokyo was similar to all other Paralympians.  Most of us had to train under unusual circumstances, often at home. This was, of course, not in the way we would have liked.  When I did get ‘local’ court time, I had to do a 140-mile round trip. But actually, I counted myself lucky to be training when others couldn’t.  We had no competitions to prepare for an international challenge, although we did our best when we could meet as a squad.  I view the year overall positively as one in which I made my dream come true.  To represent my nation, on the world stage, in my chosen sport.

My disability makes me who I am

So now this got me thinking.  Was the nomination for adversity in sport referring to my physical condition?  I often say my disability makes me ‘me’, I like to celebrate who I am.  I’ve never known life without cerebral palsy.  I might use a power chair, wear hearing aids and use a communication device.  But I believe I embrace these; they are great tools that allow me to lead the life I want.  Sometimes it isn’t easy, for example, I found being in the athlete village especially hard when it came to communication.  As a lip reader, I rely on seeing people’s faces and this was impossible for the most part due to masks.

Just getting on with life

I’m often told I’m an inspiration for what I achieve in sport.  Yet, I am just being me.  I don’t go out each day to inspire others, I’m just getting on with my life.  From my perspective, I don’t see any adversity in having cerebral palsy, a hearing impairment, or using a communication device. I may have to do things differently, it might take longer, but I get there in the end. Life is about resilience, determination, and being focused on the goal.

A well-deserved winner

After reading the other nominations I knew I didn’t deserve to win.  There were fantastic nominations and winners across all categories.  The winner of the overcoming adversity award has my wholehearted support, I’ve known him for a number of years. Dan faces adversity daily and gets on with his life without fuss, now he is an inspiration to me.  He was my number 1 on the shortlist, definitely his is a well-deserved win.

So, thank you to whoever put me forward.  It has given me a great opportunity to reflect on my sporting journey.