Anyone who knows me will tell you that I prefer reading to sports. I don’t know the offside rule, have no idea what the difference is between Rugby League and Rugby Union, and, even though my dad likes watching Wimbledon every year, I don’t know the first thing about tennis. This isn’t because I couldn’t play sport because of my Cerebral Palsy, it’s because I’ve yet to find something I enjoy so much that I’d choose doing that over spending my Sunday afternoons curled up with a Val McDermid novel and a cup of tea.
My parents always made sure that I knew the world of sport was open to me if I wanted it to be. My dad even sat me down and made me watch the athletics at the 1996 Paralympics on the TV when I was just five years old to show me what I could achieve if I wanted. “I’m not saying you have to do it” he said “I just want you to know that you could”.
Over the years I have tried to get on with many sports, and well, it just hasn’t happened. I decided that I hated football on the day I tried to join in with my friends and ended up tripping over the ball and falling flat on my face. Then, there was the time I tried to serve a ball in a game of tennis and fell over with the effort, and, as I’ve said before I can’t run.
Despite that, I do quite enjoy the odd game of cricket that my family used to play on holiday. I just sit in my wheelchair (it’s safer that way, trust me) and whack the ball as hard as I can to score as many runs as possible without moving until someone catches me out. It’s not the conventional way of playing but it’s my way nonetheless and I quite like that.
People often ask me if I’ve ever taken part in wheelchair basketball and the answer is no, I haven’t. The idea just doesn’t interest me (and I’m terrified of being hit in the face with the ball, truth be told) but I’d happily try any sport that caught my eye at least once. The hard part isn’t me trying something out, it’s selling the idea to me in a way that gets my attention in the first place that’s possibly the most difficult bit.
I do enjoy exercise; I just prefer the things that you don’t do in a team, so the only person I have to push and compete with is myself. I loved using the gym in high school and at university, I love going out for walks with Martha, and I can always be found on the dance floor at parties in my walking frame or wheelchair moving along to the music in any way I can. I even quite enjoy swimming even though I’m not very good. That, and I like being able to jump around in the water in a way that I can’t on land.
In the end though, I much prefer to leap into the world of a good book. I love being nosey at the other world’s that writers have created in their own head, I enjoy reading stories that I can relate to, be they fiction or none fiction, and I truly admire the way that a writer can make you feel so much emotion without ever having met you. For me, it’s hard for me to imagine loving any sport over the magic of a book, Cerebral Palsy or no Cerebral Palsy.