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‘Disability isn’t Bad… – It is Cool’ Says World Record Holder

World Para-athletics champion sprinter Sophie Kamlish, left. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA

World Para-athletics champion sprinter Sophie Kamlish admits her school days were not the happiest but hopes things are have improved for youngsters with impairments growing up.

The 21-year-old, who had her lower leg amputated as a child following a birth defect, runs using a prosthetic blade.

She writes about so many of the issues facing people with impairments in her personal blog.

“It was never one big horrible thing that I experienced,” she says of her school days.

“It was tiny things that added up and those are the sort of things that people don’t see as offensive when they say them.

“I think it is thoughtlessness rather than nastiness.

“But you internalize those things and you can end up with the idea that disability is something negative and that is the main thing that needs to change.

“Disability isn’t something that is bad or needs to be cured.

“It’s just another cool part of the world and I hope that change is happening in schools.

“I’m sure there have been more educational things for teachers and I always speak my mind now about how disabled people are treated.”

Kamlish set a new T44 world record in the heats on her way to winning gold at the World Championships in London in July for her first global title.

That helped make up for her Rio 2016 Paralympics disappointment, where she also set a world record in the heats but missed out on a medal in the final.

As for her 2018 hopes on the track, Kamlish is focusing on track performance rather than nicknames

Rival Marlou van Rhijn, from The Netherlands, is a double amputee and three-time Paralympic champion and goes by the tag “Blade Babe”.

But Kamlish says she wants to be known for her own achievements and not her prosthetics.

And she believes the use of the term “Babe” is questionable in a world where female athletes are striving for equality.

“It is reducing me down to the carbon fiber thing that I use to race on,”she told BBC Sport.

“I guess it’s not an insult, but I don’t think it would be a total compliment either.

“I suppose if you don’t feel uncomfortable with the label then there is nothing wrong with it.

“But I don’t think I like being described as Blade Babe very much.

“Jonnie Peacock and the other male amputee sprinters generally haven’t been described as a Blade Babe, so I guess there is a gender thing going on.”

By Bill Howell

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz


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