What is wheelchair racing and how did I get involved?
Wheelchair racing is a discipline within para-athletics. Athletes can compete in both track and road events ranging in distance from 100m to marathon.
Below is a glimpse of the action from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games:
I am a 2nd year student at the University of Warwick, studying Computer Science. I started racing in January 2016 after the much welcome discovery of a wheelchair racing club, which is part of the Coventry Godiva Harriers. Training takes place at the university athletics track and I train a few times a week. It is something that I have come to really enjoy. Firstly, its exhilarating and allows me to challenge myself as well as having something to look forward to outside of my studies, which I think is very important. Secondly, I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to do sports because of the various benefits it brings to both mind and body. However, the availability of para-sport to many disabled people like myself is limited and I am grateful to have this opportunity.
Because of my disability, spastic diplegia, I have a been classified by British Athletics as a T34 athlete. In May last year, I became the first wheelchair racer to represent my university, competing in the BUCS Outdoor Championships' 100m and 800m wheelchair races. This was my first meet and I have been improving ever since, finishing the year in 12th in the UK rankings for both those distances.
I have been fortunate enough to able to train under the guidance of British Athletics coach Job King in addition to training with several world-class athletes, such as Kare Adenegan and Ben Rowlings. They both competed in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and have given me the inspiration to compete at a high level.
Why do I need a racing my own racing wheelchair?
Firstly, to relieve pain and discomfort. Being strapped into the racing wheelchair I currently borrow (see photo) causes me significant discomfort. In particular, by the distribution of weight to my knees. This means that I have to regularly re-adjust myself to relieve the discomfort and my pushing is intermittent as a result. Racing wheelchairs are made for an individual’s requirements; most manufacturers are able to provide a multitude of custom configurations to meet them. This means that I would be able to sit in a position that better suits my impairment, decreasing discomfort and ultimately allowing for better performance.
Secondly, efficiency. In order to go fast, I need to apply a lot force to the pushrims using my arms. Therefore, it is crucial that the chair fits snuggly to prevent any energy being wasted on sideways movement and so that I can fully incorporate the use of my trunk. I would also like to use carbon wheels due to their light weight and because energy is wasted when the spokes on spoked wheels flex under force.
Unfortunately, this equipment is very costly and that is why I am asking for your help:
- Top End Eliminator OSR Racing Wheelchair £2,492.80
- Corima 2D C+ racing chair discs £1,250.00
- Pushrims with rubber coating £200.00
- Tyres £52.80
- Glueing tape £10.20
- Racing gloves £159.00
I would be very grateful for any donations you can give to help me achieve my goals. Thank you.