Cycling has been instrumental to my fitness and I have taken part in some cycling challenges

MY INTRODUCTION to sports started in childhood and I have been fortunate to participate in mainstream sports as often as possible.

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My parents were keen that I benefited from the inclusion in sports.

However that wasn't always possible as in my early childhood, and I started horse-riding at Riding for the Disabled Association.

I pursued this interest for 16 years and during that time I participated in gymkhanas and horse riding competitions and gained many rosettes.

Horse riding is a highly disciplined sport which demands a great deal of hard work and commitment.

Riding for people with disabilities is hugely beneficial in terms of therapeutic intervention as riders use the entire body to steer, control, adjust the horse and maintain balance, which results in improved balance, muscle strength and better coordination.

I always strived to have the same recreational activities as my brother and sister and fit in with the local children with whom I grew up.

We always used to go out on our bikes and it became apparent that my special trike couldn't keep up with the pace of them.

My dad taught me to ride my first two-wheeler and I had my first mountain bike when I was aged 10, which had 18 gears.

Since that new freedom, I have been able to take part in many activities and in recent years, cycling has been instrumental to my fitness, and I have taken part in some cycling challenges.

I am incredibly fortunate that I've been able to master cycling as it is a sport that is non weight-bearing and a useful sport for people like myself who can pursue sport without the direct impact to the knees and other joints.

Swimming was another sport I engaged in when I was growing up and, once again, inclusivity lies at the heart of it, spurring me on.

Also it was one of the biggest Paralympic sport events of London 2012.

I attended a disabled swimming club, (Temple Swimming Club) and I had an excellent instructor - Bob Mitchell - who trained me up to do backstroke and front crawl.

After extensive work, I pursued this sport at recreational level.

Swimming is a lifelong skill and has tremendous health benefits for people of all ages.

My enthusiasm for challenges emerged when I took up dinghy sailing.

During my dinghy sailing years, I gained a Grade 1 Royal Yachting Association certificate and was awarded the Cadet of the Year trophy from the Clyde Cruising Club.

Through my involvement in sailing, I was introduced to voyages on the Tall Ships, which cater for able bodied and sailors with disabilities.

Being a member of these crews demands rigorous self-discipline to perform responsible duties on four hourly watches.

While on-board these ships, I gained Leadership @ Sea Certificate, which met the criteria for many young peoples' vocational awards.

These sports have given me skills for life and once you learn them, you never forget them.

It gives you attributes to apply to new sporting interests.

More importantly, having the encouragement from family gives you self-belief to succeed.


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