July’s Disability Topic of the Month by Toni-Marie

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7th July 2021

Hello Readers! 

For the purposes of my blog I will tell you a little bit about my disability because I feel it is relevant. I have cerebral palsy and scoliosis of the spine. This means that I am a full-time electric wheelchair user.

Topic Of The Month: Sport!

When I think back to the Paralympics of London 2012 I will admit to never before being as captivated by sport as I was at that time! It was just incredible to be able to watch such an amazing tournament that I felt really changed the face of disability sport in such a positive way! I honestly felt so proud to be disabled to a degree that I had never felt before! It was so empowering, so uplifting and so inspiring! 

For a brief moment I wanted to be on the centre podium collecting a gold medal myself. I was lucky enough to meet and have lunch with David Smith who won a gold medal for Boccia at London 2012.. This means the absolute world to me because to have the chance to ask a Paralympian as many questions as possible about their journey to success was such an honour!

David is obviously very successful! Very determined and very disciplined! Yet I also found him to be very humble and quite shy about his huge achievements!

I wish I could tell you at this point that I have the same desire to follow in his footsteps – however, those of you who know me really well will also know that I don’t really have any kind of relationship with sport! In fact I used to volunteer in a gym that specialised in helping people with disabilities to access sport. And my favourite machine was almost undoubtedly the coffee machine!

And if I am being brutally honest, I see my morning routine of getting up, showered, dressed and ready for my day as very similar to an intense workout! My scoliosis means that my breath is consistently compromised during any kind of sustained physical movement and afterwards instead of heading for the gym I need a rest!

That said, there ought to be a far greater acknowledgment that people with disabilities deserve the right to be able to access their local gym facilities. There seems to be this unspoken belief that if you are already disabled in some way then why would you want or need to exercise? The option should be made available it is as simple as that. In the light of recent controversy surrounding the classification system for Paralympians I can only hope for a swift and satisfactory end to this whole debate.

It is an unbelievably sad and utterly devastating situation for so many Paralympians who have been directly affected by the events surrounding the whole debate. And indeed ex-Paralympians such as Tanni Grey–Thompson who really was and still is someone to aspire to.

For her to now see and know about such a dark shadow hanging over the world of Paralympic sport must be so awful for her. Sadly, for so many Paralympians who have trained so hard the mistakes of the past and the present cannot be undone.

However, there needs to be significant changes put in place to ensure that the world of disability sport is one hundred percent fair, honest and true. Please let the feeling of complete and utter pride of London 2012 once again be restored and carried forward! I will be watching with great interest! Good luck to every competing Paralympian! Roll on the 24th of August 2021!

Never has it been more appropriate to use my phrase…

Always see your ability in disability!

Thanks for reading!



1 Comment

  • Stephen Guy says:

    I love reading all the blogs from Toni Marie, everything she puts in her words are so true and totally inspiring. Yes, disabled people are in most people’s eyes without disabilities invisible, still waiting for that to change.
    The Paralympic games are without a doubt totally amazing and thank you Toni Marie for pointing that out so eloquently. Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading your first book!!

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