Charlotte will explain how she entered sport despite low expectations around sporting achievement for someone with sight loss and how the University of York was influential in her sporting career.
Visually impaired all her life, as a child Charlotte was discouraged from taking part in sport at school. However, she didn’t allow this to stop her and found alternative routes into sporting activity, including circus performing and self-defence.
As a student at the University of York, she discovered trampolining, before being encouraged to take up running for the first time.
Another exciting challenge arose with a move to Triathlon, which led to world and European titles in 2010. But despite further success in Triathlon, Charlotte’s attention returned to running.
Through hard work and dedication she qualified for the British Athletics team and a place in the World Para Athletics Marathon championships in 2020, unfortunately the event was cancelled due to Covid-19.
This online in conversation event is part of York Disability Week 2020 and includes a Q&A session. Please submit your questions here before Wednesday 11 November.
Paralympian’s hail the launch of ground-breaking movie Rising Phoenix, which features the story of the Paralympic Games movement to coincide with one-year-to-go celebrations for Tokyo 2020.
Rising Phoenix: Official Trailer below
Trailblazing Paralympics documentary ‘Rising Phoenix’ streams globally in over 190 countries on Netflix to coincide with the one-year-to-go celebrations for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which were pushed back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Featuring nine Paralympians from across the world, this cutting-edge movie tells the remarkable story of the Paralympic Games from the rubble of World War II until becoming the third biggest sporting event on the planet.
‘Rising Phoenix’ examines how the Paralympics have sparked a global movement throughout the decades and shows how it continues to change the way the world thinks about disability, excellence, diversity and human potential.
The athletes starring in Rising Phoenix
Nine Paralympic athletes including Bebe Vio, Jean-Baptiste Alaize, Cui Zhe, Tatyana McFadden and Great Britain’s Jonnie Peacock, share their exceptional stories of skill, power and determination to make it to the top of the third biggest sporting event in the world.
Multiple-swimming Paralympic champion Ellie Cole from Australia strongly believes ‘Rising Phoenix’ will help take the Movement in to the next level.
“When I see a piece of work like this one, and especially something that a brand like Netflix is taking up, I think back to when I was 9 or 10 years old and not knowing that Para sport even existed,” she said.
“I’ve seen the evolution to what it has become to the point where there’s a Netflix documentary and that is something else. It makes me proud because I’ve seen it change so dramatically. I know what it used to be like.
“I think people who watch the film, particularly those who aren’t fans already, are going to finally understand that the Paralympic Movement is really multi-dimensional. It’s actually so cool.”
South African Paralympic athletics silver medallist Ntando Mahlangu is one of the rising Paralympic stars, having made a name for himself at the young age of 18 following many successes on the track.
He agrees with Ellie that this documentary is an example of sport’s power for uniting the world.
“What is definitely in my heart is the story of the Paralympians. I think this is a platform where people will learn about the Paralympics and this is what I wanted.
“People are going to start supporting Paralympics, people are going to start knowing what the Paralympics are, so it’s going to be a good platform for everyone in the Paralympics.
Born without arms, archer Matt Stutzman is a well-known name in the Paralympics with his unique feet-shooting style.
The 37-year-old from Team USA athlete: “I think (the movie) is trying to bring awareness to everyone who is watching. Yes, we have physical disabilities but that does not stop us. We can still live normal lives; we can still be the person who goes to the grocery store and gets food. We can live like everybody else.
At the same time, wheelchair rugby legend Ryley Batt wishes he could watch ‘Rising Phoenix’ together with his grandfather. “I was by myself the first time I saw Rising Phoenix, and it even had me in tears. My Pop knows he was a big influence on my life but God, he would be proud to see this.
“Pop loved to get behind the camera, and he filmed some of the footage you see in the movie. He was very proud of me and he would be really stoked that I’m in a documentary like that, embracing who I am.
“I watched the movie for the second time with my family and they were all in tears. It wasn’t tears of ‘I feel so sorry for you.’ It was tears of pride, seeing what myself and these other athletes have overcome and also the challenges that we’ve all accepted.”
Rising Phoenix soundtrack created by disabled artists
As well as Paralympians featuring in this film, the music is created and performed by people with disabilities too.
The directors of Rising Phoenix, Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, were reluctant to have a well-known musician feature on the soundtrack. Speaking to Variety, Ian said:
“we were very reluctant to have a big name because we’ve got a film full of athletes who should be household names, and yet none of these people are famous. It felt wrong to have a big-name singer finish the film off.”
Fortunately, composer Daniel Pemberton discovered three American rappers, part of Krip-Hop Nation, “a loose-knit scene of disabled hip-hop artists,” Pemberton tells Variety, “quite a fascinating world, very overlooked and underground.
The three American rappers – George TraGiC and Keith Jones, who both have cerebral palsy and Toni Hickman, whose right side is now partially paralyzed after two brain aneurysms and a stroke – wrote lyrics that reflect the film and their own experiences living with a disability.
Daniel also had support creating the film score by three disabled musicians; viola and violin player Gemma Lunt and French hornist Guy Llewellyn, who are both wheelchair users, and visually impaired soprano Joanne Roughton-Arnold.
We caught up with Paralympic multi-medallist Ellie Robinson on being part of the team, her other surprising sporting passion and looking ahead to Tokyo 2020.
1) How did you get into swimming?
I learned to swim at the age of 4 and took part in every sport I could. Just before the London 2012 Paralympic Games, I went to a talent ID day, where I was told I had a talent for swimming. Due to my competitive nature and enthusiasm in sport, I joined Northampton Swimming Club when I was 11. Before the season started in September, I went to the Aquatics Centre in London, where I watched the ParalympicsGB athletes competing. The excitement surrounding the London Games was definitely a catalyst to the start of my swimming career.
2) What is the best thing about being a Paralympic athlete?
The best thing about being a Paralympic athlete is the platform to change perspectives surrounding disabilities. The growing interest around Paralympic sport is helping to achieve the integration of disabilities into everyday society. I’m grateful for the voice Paralympic sport has given me to speak as an athlete, not just someone with a disability – the professionalism and athleticism of Paralympic sport is lessening the need for labels of “able bodied” and “disabled”, to produce a true sense of equality.
3) What does being part of the ParalympicsGB team mean to you?
Being a part of ParalympicsGB for me is the mark of my professionalism as an athlete. Being able to wear the ParalympicsGB kit instils a great amount of pride in me. It’s one of the highest honours as an athlete, to know that you have been selected to represent the aspired to image of sport in your nation.
4) What memory do you cherish most from competing at Rio 2016?
My most cherished memory from Rio 2016 was walking onto poolside of the warm up pool each day. Despite only being 15 I felt at home in a competitive environment amongst the other athletes. I felt excited to be performing on a global stage and throughout the 3 weeks we were there, the anticipation I felt each time I stepped into the venue, never diminished in the slightest.
5) What are you looking forward to most about Tokyo 2020?
What I’m looking forward to about Tokyo, is taking the experience I gained in Rio and proving to myself how I have progressed as an athlete. There’s a great amount of sentimental value surrounding my experiences in 2016 and I hope to be able to reflect upon my time in Tokyo and see how I’ve grown as an athlete and a person.
6) How does the public support help you to perform at your best?
I feel public support has such a great impact on performance, and, not just on the day of competition. The people’s increasing interest of Paralympic sport and the media surrounding it, creates an atmosphere before the Games that even helps in training. The anticipation of the Paralympics drives me as an athlete, as I like to believe; the greater the platform, the greater the chance to impact on the world. Whether it’s with regard to the success of British athletes, new perspectives on disabilities, or even my own performance.
7) What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
The use of my spare time is pretty influenced by the F1 season! I have a group of friends with whom I watch the Grand Prix live, every time there’s a race, although maybe not Australia 🙂 I’m a sporadic reader, so I can go ages without reading a book and then suddenly become engrossed in one, but one thing I’ve always liked is writing, ever since I was young.
8) If you weren’t a swimmer, what sport would you do?
If I wasn’t a swimmer, I would’ve loved to have attempted karting, although, understandably the progression of disabled athletes in motorsport is somewhat behind that of other sports. However, as this is a hypothetical, I’ll still say karting/motorsport, as it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.
BRITISH BLIND SPORT AND ENGLAND ATHLETICS GUIDE RUNNING UPDATE
As lockdown restrictions across the UK are being changed, British Blind Sport has been working closely with England Athletics to update guidance on the status of guide running in England.
The government recommendations are that people remain 2 metres apart, or 1 metre with extra protection measures, therefore we understand that extra modification is essential on account of a disability or impairment.
As such, guide running can once again begin to take place as long as both guide and visually impaired runner fully understand the increased risk associated with the activity and follow the mitigations included in the updated guidance.
Guide running should ideally take place with participants running side by side and should only take place outdoors. You should maintain social distancing from other people when out running and ensure that hands are washed before and after activity. We also recommend that running tethers are thoroughly cleaned between uses.
Ideally, where possible, both parties should be from within the same household or support bubble to decrease risk of the virus spreading. However, if this is not possible then guide running should take place between the same pair until further lifting of restrictions are advised (i.e. guide runners only run with one VI runner and vice versa).
It is also important that guide and VI runner have up to date contact details for one another, for track and trace purposes.
Please be aware that neither British Blind Sport nor England Athletics can take responsibility for any risk, injury or illness incurred during guide running and that all participants must fully understand the risk that they are taking on by resuming this activity.
Are you visually impaired and usually run outdoors for exercise?
Are you visually impaired and have taken up outdoor running during social distancing?
Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire and Solent University are investigating the impact of the coronavirus lockdown upon visually impaired (VI) runners. This study will explore VI peoples’ experiences of outdoor running and evaluate the impact of government measures –including two metre distancing – upon their participation. Data will be collected using online, semi-structured interviews in which participants will be invited to share their experiences.
You may take part in this research if you meet the following criteria:
Are a resident in the UK
Are aged 18 years or older
Have a visual impairment
Regularly participate in outdoor running as exercise OR have taken up outdoor running as exercise since social distancing guidelines were published on 23rd March 2020.