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Interview With Tanni Grey-Thompson, Paralympian. By Keeva Pengelly-Willis

  1. What inspired you to do your sport?

"I grew up in a really sporty family.  My Mum watched a lot of sport and Dad played a lot of sport.  They realised that being active was really important for me to be able to be fit and healthy and to live an independent live.  I moved from being active to playing sport when I was in secondary school."


2. Is this the only sport you focused on?

"I played a lot of different sports until I was about 16.   My Dad was very keen that I didn’t settle on one sport and I think that this is really important.   He always said that you are going to have ups and downs playing sport and that you might not always love it.  He also believed that you have to learn different skills which only comes from playing other sports."


3. Who is your sporting role model?

"Growing up there was a Welsh athlete called Chris Hallam who I watched compete in the London marathon.   He was amazing.  It was the first time I had seen a disabled person being involved in sport at that level.  The only other people that I had seen were non disabled actors pretending to be disabled. "


4. What's the hardest challenge you overcome?

"Some of it is people’s attitudes who think that because I am a wheelchair user they make big assumptions about me.  There is a lot of UK where accessibility is not that great.   I do a lot of work campaigning for better access on trains.   If there is something that I would like to change it would be that."


5. What's your biggest sporting achievement?

"Winning the 100m in Athens was probably the best race that I have ever done.  I hadn’t competed well in the 800m which was my strongest event and then I won the 100m which was my weakest event."


6. Have you ever been nervous or scared if so how did you get over it?

"I used to get really nervous but most people do – it is about learning to control it.  Once I was on the track I was fine."


7. What's some advice you would give a young athlete?

"Find a sport you love because you don’t always like it.  There are times when training is really tough, especially the winter.  It can seem relentless at times.   Find good people to train with – they will be your friends for live."


8. How did you get into the Paralympics?

"There is a pathway from being a junior to a senior athlete. There were a number of coaches who were part of the selection team."


9. How old were you when you became a Paralympian?

" at the end of my first year of University"


10. When did you win your first gold medal?

"I won a gold medal as a junior athlete at the national champs.  I won my first Paralympic gold in 1992."


11. Did you always think you were good enough to make a top level athlete?

"I always wanted to be.  There were times that I knew that I was improving and times that it seemed a long way off.  You have to keep working hard and working smart and plan each next step."


12. What is your favourite sporting moment?

"There are so many !!!   I was in the stadium in Sydney the night Cathy Freeman won her gold medal in the 400m.  It was incredible."  

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