Muninder – My Story
My name is Muninder Singh Hayer. I am a full time Computer Science student at The University of Nottingham and am a current England international. I was born with a lack of oxygen, which resulted me in having Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral palsy, if you are not already aware, is a condition, which affects muscle control and movement. This is an injury usually to the brain caused by complications before, during or after birth. For me CP affects my co-ordination and my ability to walk, therefore I use an electric wheelchair as my usual form of mobility.
From a very early age I have always been very competitive in everything I do, which I feel has made me into the man I am today.
Where it all began
When I moved school aged 6, it was noticed within a month by the Physical Education coordinator, Anne Cradock that I had what took to become something special. I think a part of this was due to my knowing how to put my body through extremes.
Taking into account that I was only 6 years of age at the time, I was put through my paces and put with the senior hockey training squad aged between 15-17. Within months we made the hockey cup final and only just lost out on gold. This was my first ever medal.
I gave up most of my breaks and lunchtimes to go and train in the sports hall and it was only a matter of time before I picked up a beanbag and started chucking it around. I could throw it about 6 metres and the qualifying distance for the mini school games was something like 3.50m but I was too young to enter. I was 9 at the time and the age in which you could participate was 10.
I was also a vital member of the school’s table cricket team that was part of a knockout competition with the chance at stake to play at Lords if we got to the final, which we did! For an 8 year old this was a huge confidence boost and made me realise that I was more than a kid with Cerebral Palsy.
After the school holidays I started to train more and worked on techniques in preparation for the games that was in 8 months.
The week finally came of the school games that were held at Stoke Mandeville over a course of 5 days. I was only 10 at the time so the excitement of competing at my first games was just magical. The competition went on for 4 days and I managed to come away with 3 gold and 1 silver medal. I attended these games for 3 years between 2005-2008 winning a total number of 8 Gold and 3 Silver.
Because I exceeded expectations at all 3 school games, I was invited to attend a qualifier for the national junior disability championships. After months of training I went to this day and qualified with ease! I knew that if I was to podium at the nationals I would automatically qualify for next year. So as I do I went to the Nationals at won 3 gold medals. I attended these national championships for 5 years adding to my medal collection of 14 gold and 2 silver. I was fortunate enough to claim Athlete of the year at my last championships in 2013. I never liked bronze as a colour anyway!
For nearly all of my life until I was around 16 I have been in and out of hospital, attending physiotherapist, having test/operations and much more. For most parts of 10 years I had to deal with horrific kidney pain nearly everyday which led me to having many sleepless nights. This didn’t only affect me but my parents too, being up most nights with me. The doctors couldn’t work out what was causing these and it wasn’t until I was about 13 that they decided to operate and take a sample of the kidney. This procedure proved vital and stopped the pain.
Sadly I lost 2 close family members within a period of 8 months and, to be honest, my life was turned upside down. After losing my Mum in June 2013 I soon realised that I needed to do something I enjoyed and sport was essentially the best answer. I contacted British Athletics and the rest is history! I find that when I train or compete I am totally a different person and I don’t even feel like that once young kid with Cerebral palsy. I just hope I am making my Mum and Granddad proud as I know I am to all my family and friends
First international call up
In August 2015, I was called up to represent my country at the Cerebral Palsy World Games in Nottingham. For any athlete no matter what sport you are involved in, to hear that you will be competing for your country on an international stage is just priceless. I had dreamt of getting this letter through the door when I got involved in sport at the age of eight. When all the team moved into the athlete village and received our kit, only at that point did I realise: this is real.
I competed in the F31 club throw event at the Harvey Hadden Sports Village on Friday 14th August. I was the underdog going into these championships and in my mind I wasn’t even expecting to come away with a medal. I knew that if I proved myself, as these were my first major games therefore, maybe this would be a kick-start I needed to take my sporting career to the next level. Before heading onto the field of play I had a target, which I knew that I needed to exceed. Taking into consideration my anxieties, the wet weather, and only having just two weeks to get used to my new throwing frame I rose to the occasion, exploded and threw a world record shot.
Influence on the track
At the end of my 2nd season as a fully classified international athlete having won several awards, I was getting bored of only being a field athlete and desperately wanted to make my mark on the track, and this is exactly what I did. As I was a member of CP Sport (a great organisation, run by an outstanding team of staff which gives young athletes a opportunity to fulfil their sporting goals) I received an invite to a ‘Racerunning’ taster day where athletes could try this.
I attended this day and a play around like a little kid in a toy store, as you do! On a more serious note, when getting on the bike it made me feel like any other runner and not just someone with CP. Anyway with me being so competitive, my coach and I timed some of my runs to see where I would be in comparison to the world rankings. Taking into account I had never seen a Racerunner and hardly had any training on my legs, incredibly I would have been ranked in the top 3 of the world over 40, 60, 100 and 200 meters.
Days later I was contacted by CP Sport and was asked if I would represent England at the European Championships in Denmark. I knew all my training and dedication in sport was paying off with my being chosen for my 2nd international in a matter of months. I only had less than 4 months to prepare for, and in my mind, this was the biggest competition of my career so far. When ordering my bike I was told it would arrive within 6 weeks but in fact it took 12 weeks, a delay that only gave me 2 weeks to train.
What it takes to be a world-class athlete
Everyone knows that if you want to become a world-class athlete you need a coach that pushes you beyond your boundaries and that is exactly what I have. I have a strict training routine which me and Graham set at the end of every season and adjust when needed. I also work with a company called ‘oneathlete’ who work with future Paralympians to help them achieve their full potential. I have only had 12 sessions with them and already I can sit on a gym bench unaided and do everything out of my wheelchair, something I couldn’t have dreamt of previously.
This is a difficult one. My ultimate goal is to compete at a Paralympics and I’m eyeing up Tokyo 2020. I hope I can maintain the level I compete at and just go on and get better and better. I know I’ve got what it takes to do that and I will prove that in years to come!
On the other hand I recently started speaking to schools and colleges about my career so far and other than competing I love being an inspiration to children and young adults and helping them kick-start their own dreams.
My achievements? Let me think…….. You know what, I’m gonna just list them otherwise I’ll be here forever!
Table Cricket Team Finalists – Lords London – May 2004
Member of the West Midlands athletics team – May 2005
DSE Mini-games – Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury – Winning a total number of medals – 8 Gold and 3 Silver June 2005 – July 2008
DSE Nationals Athletics Champiopnships, Blackpool, United Kingdom
- Winning a total number of medals – 14 Gold and 2 Silver June 2009 – July 2013
- DSE Athlete of the year July 2013
Turned Amateur – October 2013
- Member of the British Athletics Academy February 2014
- Unbeaten in my classification (F31) 2014 – Present
- England Athletics Bronze Medalist (F31, F32 combined) 2014, 2015
- Athlete of the season – Royal Sutton Coldfield Athletics Club 2014
- Member of the England International athletics squad May 2015 – Present
- World Games gold medalist and broke the world record (First International) August 2015
- Sutton Coldfield Personality of the year 2015
Copenhagen. Denmark – July 2016
- Triple European RaceRunning Champion in 40, 60 and 100 metres and silver over 200 metres
- England Athletics Gold Medalist (F31, F32 combined) July 2016
- Ranked 1st in the world over 40, 60, 100 metres, 2nd over 200 meters and 4th over 400 metres August 2016
World Record – read all about Muninders World Record here
To conclude this blog, I would just like to thank a few people who have supported me through my incredible journey and hopefully will carry on helping me to achieve my dreams.
Firstly to Graham Felton, my coach for his belief in me and pushing me through all those pain barriers. Secondly, a huge thank you to Ali Talbot at CP Sport for giving me so many opportunities especially opening the door to becoming a world star.
A big thank you to The University of Nottingham sport’s staff for the support juggling my academic work with training, and to one athlete for the physical part.
Finally to family and friends for all the backing through the highs and lows.
Just to finish off, I am currently a self-funded athlete therefore; I am looking for sponsorship opportunities and kind donations as I look to eye up the 2020 Paralympics. If you or you know of any ideal backers please contact me by using one of the following links.
Thank you for taking your time to read my incredible story!
Muninder Singh Hayer, August 2016
Find out more about Muninder on his website www.munindersinghhayer.co.uk
Muninder was interviewed for the Sikh channel, September 23rd 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYs1lMpT59A