Beating Paralysis through Sport- Ben Pritchards Story
Sport has always played a pivotal part in my life, ever since learning to sail at the age of eight. I have competed in various sports at different levels ranging from school rugby and football through to national sailing and even international triathlon.
However, it was not until 10th September, 2016 that I realised the importance of sport in my life.
Triathlon and Road Cycling were / are my main passion and have been very fortunate to receive the support of the GLL Sports Foundation for the past three years while I tried to progress through the ranks.
On the 10th September, 2016 my life was turned upside down following a racing incident which left me paralysed from the rib cage down.
In hospital I set four goals: 1) Return to live independently, 2) Return to sport 3) Back to work, 4) Return back to family life.
I feel incredibly lucky to have Stoke Mandeville as my rehabilitation centre, a place which places a heavy emphasis on sport and the benefits it can bring post injury. Of course, you do not have to tell you or me that, but I truly believe being an athlete is what helped me come to terms with my rehabilitation.
January 2017, I wrote an email to the GLL Sports Foundation informing them of my injury, stating that I understood if our professional relationship could not develop any furtherunder the current circumstances. However, I was overwhelmed by the response of the GLL Sports Foundation and am pleased to say that during my first year back into competitive sport GLL Sports Foundation has been with me every step of the way.
As a summary here are the key moments which we (GLL SF and I) have achieved in 2017:
1) Returned to independent living in London.
2) Undertook Para Development Trials for GB Development Squad (Rowing).
3) Confirmed onto GB Development Squad (Rowing).
4) Best Male Paraplegic Swimmer at the National Inter Spinal Unit Games.
5) Gained International Classification of PR1 (Rowing).
6) Represented Wales at the Home Internationals (Rowing) placing 2nd to my training partner (Kingsley Ijomah).
7) Undertook first Open Trials for GB Paralympic Squad, posting a 43 second PB (Rowing).
8) Nominated for the Disability Sports Wales, Emerging Athlete of the Year Award (Awards night 26th January, 2018).
As a progression into the 2018 season I have the following ambitions:
1) Continue performance in the GB Development Programme (Rowing).
2) Gain promotion with The Aces (Wheelchair Basketball)
3) Represent Wales at the Home Internationals (Rowing).
4) Qualify for International Selection (GB Para Rowing).
5) Row a 85% of Gold Medal Time for 2km on water piece (Rowing).
6) Row a 90% of Gold Medal Time for 2km on the ergo (Rowing).
7) Win my first rowing race.
8) Strengthen professional relationship with the GLL Sports Foundation, offering motivational speaking
I would welcome the opportunity to continue working with the GLL Sports Foundation and hope to continue building on our already strong foundations.