PARALYMPICS: Great Cornard shot-putter Jonathan Adams hopes he’s inspired others
GREAT Cornard shot-putter Jonathan Adams hopes his incredible Paralympic story will inspire more disabled people to follow their sporting dreams.
Having grown up idolising South African speedster Oscar Pistorius, the 19-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer thought his chances of competing among the world’s disability sporting elite were ended six years ago when he underwent a major operation on his legs.
A switch from running to shot-put started badly as numerous falls led to injury, but he refused to give up and moved to the discipline of seated throwing in April last year.
Within months he was training amongst the elite at Loughborough University, soon won two silver medals at the World Junior Championships and, from relatively nowhere, had qualified for the Paralympic Games in London.
It meant his senior competitive debut came in front of 80,000 people at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, with his 14th-place finish already a target to beat at Rio in four years’ time.
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“After my surgery I never thought this would be possible, but here I am speaking to you from an Olympic Village,” said Adams, still trying to take in the magnitude of his achievements.
“At the moment part of me can’t help but feel disappointed with my throw because it wasn’t to the best of my ability, but my main goal has always been to inspire others and the reaction I’ve been getting on Facebook and Twitter has been incredible.
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“My motto when I was in hospital was ‘don’t focus on your disability – focus on your abilities’. I hope I’ve shown people that if you are dedicated to your dreams then anything is possible.”
Set to start a psychology degree next month, Adams added: “The atmosphere inside the stadium has been electric, the media coverage has been superb and I think these Paralympic Games have really opened peoples’ eyes as to what disability sport is all about.
“They’re not just an event two weeks after the Olympics, it’s not just a glorified sportsday; this is elite sport where athletes are striving to break world records. In Oscar Pistorius disability sport now has a star in the mould of David Beckham, Roger Federer and Michael Phelps.
“Growing up I was bullied at school and felt like an outsider in society, but now I feel like these Games have put disabled people on the same page.”