Thomas S – My Story
My name is Thomas I am 17 and a T35 sprinter running 100m, 200m and 400m. I am a member of South Gloucestershire A.C and on the parallel success pathway also a member of Cerebral Palsy Sport. I have cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia, ADHD and mild autism. I am a full-time student at New College, Swindon in Wiltshire studying sports coaching, Maths & English. I enjoy drama and at secondary school I made and acted in a short film with my peers which was showcased at the local cinema. I have also made a CD of a rap, that I sang with the help of a local charity which was listened to by Mitch Winehouse. Yes, Amy Winehouse’s dad, I heard he liked it. It was even played at a local under 18’s night club. I am a very sociable and cheeky chap but also very competitive and determined. Unfortunately, I have been a victim of bullying and some nasty disability hate crimes, but I do not let it hold me back in fact it made me more determined.
Where it all began
I was always determined for people to see ‘me’ rather than the disability, but my behaviour got it in the way due to the bullying and attacks that I received. I was so angry and mistrusting of people. However, I started going to the local access days arranged by Swindon Community Health and Well being Team. On one of these days it was at the Swindon County Ground Athletics track. There, I was able to access and have a go at various bikes and sports that at school and home I wouldn’t have had access to. Whilst having a go at Boxing, a Disability sports officer Job King gave my family a card and he thought I had potential. I was curious but due to my CP I didn’t hold much hope.
My mum rang Job King and got talking to him about going forward, poor Job as my mum can talk for England! She was able to get me into a local disability sports club and the local athletics team. Unfortunately, I did not get on at the local sports athletics club but was really enjoying the disability sports. We all helped one another, and I had nothing to prove to anyone. We were all accepting of each other’s needs and I realised that I could run. I entered for the Southwest Regional CP football talent team and was amazed when after trials I got selected. I loved it and again made new friends. As well as playing football, I was also introduced to Coach Mark Lodge of South Gloucester A.C who really took me under his wing and could see the huge potential in me. Mark has encouraged me, guided me and even got me through some tough times. I am part of a great athletics club with everyone encouraging each other and One great coach and his assistant Phil. I decided that Athletics was for me and did not return to football. Though I nip in and say hello to them now and then.
With regular training in all weathers I was cutting off time and getting faster.
Mum signed me up to Cerebral Palsy Sport where I made even more friends. My confidence excelled and had more running opportunities.
The impact sport has had on my life
The impact is just outstanding. My health has improved, my confidence and no longer am I so frustrated. The friends I have made via race meets, club and meeting Paralympians and Olympians has given my whole outlook of the world a different meaning. Meeting Hannah Cockcroft and sat having lunch was an experience and she really inspired me to ‘ Just Smash It!’. As well as running and training with Jordan Howe a T35 Sprinter and meeting Richard Whitehead. At times it can be hard, and I have days when I just want a break from physio and training but at the end of the day if I don`t put in the effort then I am not going to achieve my goals and dreams. Plus, my muscles will become stiffer and walking and running will be harder for me. I have come from being in a wheelchair (occasionally) to not even being able to jump a small hurdle to now not using a wheelchair and I can jump as well as run. I have my mum and dad to thank for keeping me motivated when I had some very dark days and some very early morning starts. Helping me with my stretches and physio and yes, my nutrition. As it is known I like a burger or cheese and ham sandwich before a race. I seem to win medals and get PB’s so it must be good. Lol.
So far, I have competed in many races locally and nationally all around the UK as I have progressed and improved my technique and performance more opportunities have come along. Last year I was honoured to represent the Midlands at the School Games where I won Silver in 100m. This year I was selected and qualified for the CISPRA World Games in Barcelona. This was an amazing experience, of bonding with the team as well as meeting some truly superb athletes from around the world. I was still recovering from injuries but determined to do my country and team proud, I won two silver medals in 100m and 200m.
I was also overwhelmed and honoured to receive the Colin Raines Trophy for Endeavour this October at the Cerebral Palsy Sport Awards.
My goals and ambitions for the future would be to go to the Paralympics and represent my country as there is more to come from this athlete. But importantly to inspire others and give people opportunities in sport all around the globe that nothing is impossible!