Kate Grey, A Paralympic Perspective on Disability Sport
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Kate Grey, A Paralympic Perspective on Disability Sport

November 30, 2019


KATE GREY I’m going to start my story from the beginning, because I sort of feel, that’s where you’re
going to get a real understanding of who I am, where I
come from. I was two years old when I was silly enough to put my left hand in a sausage machine. Most of the parents wince because they think
“How on earth?” Let me explain why I was near a sausage machine. I live on a farm and I was one of those really naught two year olds. Your parents say “Don’t
go near that. It will hurt you.” I do it anyway. I think it will be interesting. Curiosity
is my biggest issue. That was over twenty years ago. So I was two years old. My parents believed
that moment meant that was the end of me. They thought “She’s only got one hand now, what’s she going
to achieve?” I qualified for Beijing in 2008. I went as
a bit of an underdog. I wasn’t expecting to, to, to go there and
win. Beijing was all about the experienece for
London, because we knew we were going to have have
London 2012. That was the big goal for most athletes in
Britain. I remember my first race in Beijing very well, because it went perfectly. I walked out, saw the crowd, just took it all in. Dived in. When I say I’m in the zone you know
what I mean? Yeah, you’re in that Usain Bolt moment. Nothing
stops you. Well I dived in for my heat. Next thing I
remember is touching the wall, look back at the scoreboard. I thought “Why is my face on the scoreboard?” Turns out I’d won my heat, done a four second
personal best and I’d qualified for the Paralympic final
in second. People were cheering my name. Then there’s this very quiet period when you
walk from the race pool to the cool down pool. And that little quiet moment was probably
a bad thing for me. I realised I was suddenly the one to be beaten.
One of the favourites. This pressure just hit me like I wasn’t prepared
for. Didn’t eat; didn’t sleep or recover properly;
didn’t drink enough. Came back for my final in the evening. Sadly I missed out on qualifying for London
2012 by half a second. Which in racing terms is quite a long time. But when you click your fingers – that’s half
a second. And that’s how much I missed out by And right there and then I hated sport. I thought “Ten years of my life I have given
to sport and what’s it given me? Fifth place at the Paralympics; a few trips
abroad; but I’ve missed the one event that I wanted
to be a part of.” I thought, “Actually no. Sport has been the most influential thing in my life. Sport has given me the confidence to meet
new people; to go to university; to represent my country. And stand-up to the people that say: “You can’t swim, you’ve only got one hand. You can’t run or catch, because you’ve got
a disability” On a more personal note, off the back of London, I’ve continued to be involved with the media
and with the BBC. Because they also saw the light and realised people want to watch Paralympic sport. And people want to see it on our TVs. They’ve given me a role as Sports Reporter,
Leading Paralympic Reporter. Which means I get to go out and film these
amazing people while they’re training their a**** off for
Rio and make them household names. For me, that’s the responsibility I’m taking
on board. It’s a responsibility that you guys should
take as well, whether you’re following them on Twitter or you’re watching them on the TV or you’re going to go buy tickets to see their
next event. That’s your responsibility. And sort of off
the back of today, I hope you feel inspired, you feel like everybody
can play a role, whether you have a disability or not. Everyone has a role. And I’m doing mine. These guys are doing theirs by competing. And you can do yours by spectating, appreciating and getting involved in different
ways.

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