Image: Pupils Natalie Collier (left) and Wrenton Toth (right) from Wallingford School, Oxfordshire with the five-time inspirational Paralympian Ian Rose.
"FIND SOMETHING YOU’RE GOOD AT AND GIVE 100% TO IT. DON’T JUST GET FIT AND STRONG. BELIEVE."
The drive and ambition that Ian has developed since a shy seven-year-old first set foot on a Judo mat is the core of this new life for him, his wife and two young children.
“My Paralympic career came about after I was thrown into a situation where I had found something I was good at. It wasn’t about the Judo. It was solely about self-esteem. But my Judo teacher and parents always taught me the importance of education and a Plan B. So I chose to finish my education and that is something I plan to use now.”
And that is the overall objective of Ian’s School Experience. It is not just about driving numbers up at local Judo clubs. The focus is on showing children that they can achieve anything. That nothing, not even disabilities, should stop kids from achieving what they want out of life. As told via the many footsteps of an inspirational Paralympian who has walked this journey!
Ian concluded “Children come to the day as one person and leave as another. It can change their perceptions of discipline in sport and, more importantly, their attitude to school and life in general because they know they can go on to achieve something. Seeing and hearing kids realise this, is why I’m doing this.”
• Aged 14, I competed around the country against guys who could see. I started winning medals in both local and national competitions. At one point I got on the under-21s sighted team.
• 1989, I was selected to fight in my first international event (Visually Impaired European Championships) and won bronze.
• Atlanta 1996. I went as favourite and won a bronze.
• 2003 Athens, I missed out on qualifying for family reasons, but received a call saying I could fight as there was a space in a higher weight group. It was in the 100 kilo+ category. I weighed 88 kilos at the time. I had to completely retrain my body in just eight months to make it. If I was a gram under 100 kilos then I would be disqualified without taking part. At the Olympic weigh in I was 102 kilos. I ended up with a silver medal.
• The only difference between Olympic and Paralympic Judo is at the start. In Paralympic Judo, both participants grip each other to begin with and if they break then the referee brings them back to the start again.
• The current Paralympic and Olympic Judo teams train together.
• When Ian went to Barcelona and Atlanta, there was no funding for Paralympians. Today the National Lottery provides funding for paralympians to support their training.
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