Paralympic ace to talk at adventure festival

Maddie Thompson. Photo: Lissa Cook.
Maddie Thompson. Photo: Lissa Cook.
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FRESH from her appearance for ParalympicsGB at London 2012, women’s wheelchair basketball player Maddie Thompson, from Hope, will be appearing at this month’s Buxton Adventure Festival.

Maddie, a single-leg amputee, will be introducing the Young Adventurers’ morning session on Sunday October 21.

Her talk will be followed by a selection of short adventure films suitable for children and families.

Here she answers some questions:

Q: What was it like at the Paralympic Games?

MT: It was absolutely fantastic, a great experience. Words can’t describe it and the crowds were just unbelievable.

Q: You were the youngest member of the women’s wheelchair basketball team. What was it like balancing training and school?

MT: It’s crazy. I’m six weeks behind at school which is pretty hard work as I’m in the second year of my A levels doing Biology, Psychology and Sports Studies. I eat and do a lot of homework and sleep on the way to and from training. A month before London was really hectic. I was getting up at 6am and getting home for around 11pm.

Q: What do you eat?

MT: I have a nutritionist and was on a really strict diet before London. Lunch tends to be something like a tuna salad. I like couscous and spaghetti bolognese. One of my favourite things is pizza, and an iced finger is my little treat!

Q: What was the pressure like?

MT: The pressure of a Games is phenomenal. The fact that it was a home ground means you’re expected to perform. We wanted to finish in the top-four and falling outside of that meant the pressure was really on to finish fifth or sixth, and it just didn’t seem to work for us.

Q: What do you like best about basketball?

MT: The violence! I love the fact you can tip people out. I love being wiped out and put on the floor and I loved doing it to other people.

Q: Have people’s attitudes to disability changed because of the Paralympics.

MT: Definitely. Channel 4 did a great job. I went shopping in Meadowhall with my sister and people stopped me and asked “You’ve got one leg, how did it happen?”.

So I think it’s opened people’s eyes and shown it’s not that scary and you can do a lot with your life even if you are disabled.

Q: What inspires you about the Peak District?

MT: The area’s so lovely. I tend to do a lot of pushing in my day chair to do fitness work. The beautiful views at Ladybower make training much easier and it’s better than going round a track!

Q: You’re presenting one of the Young Adventurer sessions at the Buxton Adventure Festival - what’s your advice to children?

MT: Anybody can do it - I was somebody who’d never tried sport.

I saw a guy at Bakewell Show with a fluorescent yellow false leg who turned out to be an ex-Paralympian basketballer and was a bit cheeky and asked him about it.

So go and talk to disabled sportspeople. I fell in love with basketball but I was rubbish at the start and couldn’t hit my first basket for ages. I’ve got so much enjoyment out of doing a sport I found purely by chance.

l Tickets for Olympic Dreams - For Young Adventurers on Sunday October 21, at 10.30am, are £10 (£5 for under-16s), or family savers are £20 for two adults and two under-16s.