Panathlon sporting patron and double Paralympian Louise Sugden has recently had a change in career path.
Part of the GB Wheelchair Basketball team since 2003, Louise has won five European Championship bronze medals and has represented Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and the “once-in-a-lifetime experience” of London 2012.
However, her latest adventure has been with the Great Britain Para-Powerlifting team at the World Championships in Mexico. “I’m absolutely loving the challenges of a new sport and the incredibly steep learning curve”, said Louise who lifted 96kg in the -86kg category to finish third in her pool and in place 10th overall!
“To represent Great Britain in one sport is a real honour, so you can imagine I am doubly delighted to do it twice, ” said Louise after her latest World Championship performance.
Having experienced PE lessons in her wheelchair surrounded by able-bodied children while at school herself, Louise understands the importance of providing inclusive sport for young disabled people.
“You can get disheartened if you’re playing against people who are running around and you’re not doing very well,” said Louise. “The fact that these kids are all playing on a level playing field is so crucial, because it helps them realise what they can do.
“I took part in a similar event when I was growing up and it was the highlight of my year. That’s when I started to realise my competitiveness. It was the beginning of my journey into Paralympic sport.
“The whole legacy thing is important, which is why I come to events like Panathlon and do anything I can to inspire as many kids as possible. I just love the thought of someone saying: ‘I can achieve stuff because she has.’”
Panathlon aims to create a legacy of its own at grassroots level, but there is always the chance that someone involved at an event will be inspired to bigger and better things, and perhaps one day achieve the same heights as this Paralympian.
You can find out more about Louise and read her blog at louisesugden.co.uk