Queen's Baton Relay: Man who beat paralysis to be bearer

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Rae Saleem
Image caption,
Rae Saleem lost feeling from the neck down in 2017 after a cycling accident and was told he would never walk again

A man left paralysed after a cycling accident has been picked to represent Sport Relief for the Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay.

Rae Saleem, 47, from Hertfordshire, lost feeling from the neck down in 2017 and was told he would never walk again.

After rehabilitation he got back on his feet and now takes on physical endurance challenges to raise money for the charities that helped him.

He said carrying the baton in Hemel Hempstead would be "a real honour".

"Not so long ago I was in a bed not able to move, reliant on three carers after being told I would never walk again," said Mr Saleem, who is from Potters Bar.

"Now, after my recovery and nearly five years on, I am able to represent Sport Relief by lifting the baton.

"It is a real honour and I hope I can be a beacon of hope to people."  

Mr Saleem first regained some feeling in his toes after his accident and his long road to recovery left him struggling with depression.

Image source, Comic Relief
Image caption,
Rae Saleem will be carrying the relay baton in Hemel Hempstead three weeks before the Commonwealth Games begin in Birmingham
Image source, Comic Relief
Image caption,
Rae Saleem has raised money for Sport Relief and Comic Relief for the last two years

He started exercising again in a bid to build back his physical strength and his mental resilience.

For Sport Relief in 2021, he ran four miles every four hours for 48 hours.

In March this year for Comic Relief's Red Nose Day, he took on an 131.2km-quadrathlon in his local gym, where much of his rehabilitation took place.

Using gym equipment, he raised £2,238 this year by rowing 10km (six miles), completing 10km on a cross trainer, cycling 90km (55 miles) and running a half marathon, which is 21.2km (13.1 miles).

There will be about 2,000 baton bearers taking part in the Queen's Baton Relay as it travels through England this summer ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham which open on 28 July.

The relay began on 7 October 2021 at Buckingham Palace, when the Queen placed her message to the Commonwealth in the baton, which is travelling for 294 days, visiting all nations and territories of the Commonwealth.

Mr Saleem was nominated to take part due to his fundraising efforts and will be carrying the baton in Hemel on 8 July.

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