Thomas – My Story
Hi, my name is Thomas. I’m 15 years old and I live near Lincoln. I am an International RaceRunner and I have cerebral palsy. I have to use a walker to get around and I sometime use a wheelchair if I get tired.
RaceRunning is an athletics discipline with a three wheeled trike and no pedals. Athletes can run on the track or use it for therapy.
Where it all began
I first discovered RaceRunning when I went to watch a Cerebral Palsy Sport athletics competition in Gateshead in August 2013. There were two RaceRunners competing and I was absolutely captivated by it. It looked such fun and looked like it could be something I could do. The boy that was racing was just like me – using a walker and I just loved the look of it. I badgered my Mum about it for some weeks about it after that!
I went to a Cerebral Palsy Sport taster day in February 2014 and tried it for the first time. Wow – it was so exciting and I loved the feeling of being able to run without my walker. Then I went to a couple more taster days through 2014 and I told my parents I wanted my own RaceRunnner which we fundraised for and in April 2014 I collected my very own RaceRunner.
Competing – The early days
I don’t think at that time I knew where it would lead. The physio I had then kept saying that she thought I was getting a little stronger by using it and all I knew was that I loved doing it and it was better than painful physio.
I competed in my first RaceRunning competition in May 2015 in Manchester and then competed the whole season in different places including the CP Nationals. I won four events for Under 13’s and I was also awarded the Colin Rains Trophy for endeavour in my first season. I also won my District Young Achiever of the Year Award in 2015.
I competed nationally in the Cerebral Palsy Sport Athletics series and other competitions as well as internationally in 2016 and I represented England at the European RaceRunning Championships in Denmark. I won four golds for 100m, 200m, 400m, and 800m in the Under 14 Junior competition. I also won the Under 13 National Championships in 2016 for 100m, 200m, 400m & 800m!
Sadly I had to have a big hip operation in January 2017 and I was in a hip spica for 6 weeks as they took some bone from my leg and grafted it into my hip. For all those days in the hospital and then recovering at home, all I wanted to do was be back on the RaceRunner (and also watching my beloved Manchester United). During my recovery we worked hard to build up strength as I have quite a leg length difference and this meant hydrotherapy as well as painful physio. But thanks to a good friend I got to see England and Manchester united play football!
I wasn’t able to compete this year until September 2017 and I really missed my friends. When I returned back to track racing at the Nationals, I won four golds in the Under 16 age group and nearly beat most of my PBs. I did not expect that! I then achieved my dream of being selected for the CPISRa World Games for 2018 as part of Team CP England.
The 2018 season has been really busy for me which saw me compete in Kingston upon Thames, York and Gloucester. I was selected to race the 100m in the England Athletics CAUU Disability Championships in Manchester and I won four National Junior titles at the Typhoo National Junior Athletics championships in Coventry.
I made considerable improvements into my 100m, 200m and 400 times in the 2018 season with consistent pbs in each distances throughout the season. I have taken over a minute off my 800m time which I am really pleased with.
August saw me fly out to the World Games to represent Team CP England and also go through a medical re-classification. I came out as a RR2 and this meant heats and qualification into finals for all my distances. I was over the moon to win a silver medal in the 800m and also placed 4th in the 100m, 200m and 400m.
At the Cerebral Palsy Sport National Championships in Doncaster in September I won four golds over 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m and ran a pb for my 100m, getting very close to the World Age Group record.
My results and re-classification to RR2 now means at the end of the 2018 season I’m ranked Number 1 RR2 male athlete in Great Britain.
I have had a great start to the season breaking the Under 16 Male RR2 100m record in my first race of the season. In June I also established a new World Record for the U16 Male RR2 1500m – the first RR2 U16 to set this record.
The impact on my life
The RaceRunnner helps me move so easily when I am on the track. I can run with the RaceRunner but can’t do that as easy with my walker. It gives me freedom. I use a chest plate and back strap so my physio also says it helps with my posture and the strength around my middle. I just love to run!
I train two to three times a week in Lincolnshire depending on homework and also what competitions are coming up. If I have training or a competition at the weekend I only train twice in the week.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family and friends. I’ve made so many friends who are just like me and I don’t feel quite so alone. I know when I get to the track or at a competitions I’m going to see them and enjoy having a laugh with them…as well as racing. It has made me much fitter since I started RaceRunning.
I feel much better about myself and more confident. I have made a lot more friends and love spending time with them at the track. I think it has made me believe in myself abit more. I am much more outgoing than I was before I started RaceRunning and I like going to different places to compete. The trip out to Denmark as an England team was awesome and we did have lots of fun!
I’m hoping to build upon my 2018 season now and improve on my personal bests and break the World Age Group record for the 100m