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Who's in the Paralympic Park? Jodie's story

Damon Rose Damon Rose | 16:46 UK time, Monday, 3 September 2012

Jodie Goodacre


There are so many reasons why people are coming along to the Games. Before we arrived I was beginning to swallow what I'd read in the newspapers that most of the punters were going to Stratford this week to look at where the Olympics had been held. But as you've probably seen on TV or heard on the radio, the crowds are regularly packing the stadiums to capacity, cheering on the Paralympians and giving Paralympics GB that extra crowd tsunami edge which pushes them to do just that little bit extra.

I've spoken to a number of parents who've brought their children along because they are keen to educate them that disabled people are just as able to do what they set their minds to. Further, and perhaps more gratifying, some of the children I've spoken with - disabled or not-disabled - have been inspired by the Paralympians and are chomping at the bit to take up new sports.

Rob and Jodie


And then on Saturday I met Jodie Goodacre who was there with her boyfriend Rob. Jodie is 17-years-old and she comes from Bishop's Stortford. As I spoke with her, innocently asking my question of the day "what one word would you use to describe Paralympic athletes" her story began to unfold.

I started off by asking if she did sport. "I used to," she said, "but I stopped after I got injured."

I pulled her leg a bit, saying: "Oh so you've done the opposite to many Paralympians; they took up sport after becoming disabled."

"Go on, nag her, it's good to hear someone else have a go at her," said a man to my left who suddenly arrived (note: everyone "suddenly" arrives when you can't see, like me). It was her dad Duncan, with mum Tracey. And I realised I may have accidentally stirred up a family hornets' nest.

It turns out that Jodie is a huge sports fan. Two years ago she broke her foot which led to nerve damage. Now she's a sometime wheelchair user, walks with crutches and wears a Tens machine. Before her injury, she tells me she played lots of football, hockey, netball, rounders, athletics, "literally everything". Jodie does sports science and geography at school and with some prompting from her mum that went: "Tell him what you want to do, go on, tell him" - I discovered she had planned to be a PE teacher and had really enjoyed being a coach.

"I'm looking more at geography teacher now," Jodie told me in a flattened voice.

"So, what one word would you use to describe Paralympic athletes," I asked, returning to my question of the day.

"Inspirational," she said but conceded she isn't keen if people describe her in that way. "I don't particularly like it when people say it to me because I'm the same person. It's kind of like, now that I'm injured, I'm suddenly inspirational to some people."

"So why are the athletes inspirational and you're not inspirational?" I wanted to know.

Jodie responded:

"Because they've got up and done something. They've got determination. They've come to compete for their country and are showing people that they can still do it and they're not being held back by their disability."

I asked whether she'd take up sport again. "I quite like the athletics," she said, "but then I like the look of wheelchair basketball because we've got those sorts of facilities at school."

"It's the inspiration of the Paralympics that we're hoping will get the sport going again for her," said her mum, jumping in. "I know she can do it."


  • Comment number 1.

    Thank you for writing this Damon, it was lovely meeting you! I look forward to reading some of your other articles.


  • Comment number 2.

    Good blog Damon, and good luck Jodie. You've got everything you need to get going again, and I hope to hear your name in a sports bulletin in the coming years.
    (PS as a rowing coach I'm bound to ask it, but have you thoght about rowing?)

  • Comment number 3.

    Jodie, think back to the things you most enjoyed about your former sports, and I'm sure they’re still there for you now, even if it means competing in a slightly different way. The Paralympians have shown us that the real beauty of sport is in the people, not the events.

    I hope you rediscover the joy of participating in sport as well as watching. Good Luck!

  • Comment number 4.

    Damon Rose is inspirational too.

    Good luck with whatever you do Jodie.

  • Comment number 5.

    Sport will be good for you. Not to necessarily become an olympian or to be a coach but just good for your body and your mind. Do it simply for the enjoyment. Don't stress over which sport. try loads of them. My advice is not to think too much and just notice what happens with awesome purpose. You will suddenly discover what you want to do.
    Best wishes to you

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.



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