Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson

The winner of 11 Paralympic gold medals and numerous awards says when things don't go your way - don't give up, just try harder.

Raise Your Game: When the chips are down what keeps you going and makes you a champion?

Tanni Grey-Thompson: I've spent a big part of my life being an athlete, training really hard. Part of the training is learning to deal with things when they don't go the way you want, so although it's nice to win, it doesn't always happen like that.

RYG: What are you most proud of?

TGT: Winning the 100m in Athens after bombing out big time in the 800m. In the 800m I made a really bad decision which meant I came nowhere in the race, and a lot of people around said 'Oh well, that's it. She's over the hill' or 'A games too far.' To come back and win the 100m was a huge sense of relief that I'm still as good as I could be.

The second thing is my daughter, Carys. Just as you think you've got it sorted it changes. It doesn't matter how organised I am in my athletics life, being a mother is definitely the hardest thing I've had to do.

RYG: And what challenges or obstacles have you faced along the way?

Profile

Name:
Tanni Grey-Thompson

Event:
Athletics

Achievements:

  • 11 Paralympics gold medals
  • Winner of 6 London Marathons
  • BBC Wales Sports Personality winner three times
  • MBE (1993) and an OBE(1999)
  • Made a Dame in 2004

TGT: The biggest barriers I've faced have been from people who make assumptions about what I can't do, who assume that because I'm in a wheelchair I can't be an athlete or I won't be competitive. That's ok because I'm focused, single-minded and good at blocking those people.

RYG: What would you say to kids who keep saying 'I can't do that, it's impossible?' What would be your advice?

TGT: Anything is possible. Part of it is how much you want to do it. Some people achieve success very easily, but that's a tiny percentage of people. For the majority of people it's about working hard. I train twice a day, six days a week, 50 weeks a year.

I was born with a condition called Spina Bifida. I could walk until I was seven, and then over a year I become paralysed. What I find quite strange is lots of people presume that because I'm in a wheelchair there are things I can't do rather than looking at what I can do.

Being in a chair has never stopped me doing anything I've ever wanted to do, and so much of it is about the belief you have within yourself. The only difference is I'm three foot tall instead of being 5'10, I'll do things on four wheels rather than on two legs.

It's about going out there and doing what you want. It's believing that you can. You might not be able to do things in exactly the same way, you might have to find a different entrance to a building or find a different solution, but it's about finding those solutions and not looking at problems.


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