30 August 2012
Aaron Phipps, Diana Man, Jonnie Peacock and Daraine Mulvihill have something in common. They have all, at some stage of their lives, contracted meningococcal septicaemia; suffering terrible after-effects as a result. However, this hasn’t held them back. Instead, they have decided to push themselves to the limit and this summer will all be taking part in the London 2012 Paralympics.
Aaron (29,) who had both of his legs amputated below the knee when he was 15, will be taking part in the Wheelchair Rugby. He started off wheelchair racing; taking part in the 10K Great South Run, then progressing to the London Marathon which he did in 1:59. In 2009 Aaron began competing professionally within the world of Wheelchair Rugby and in 2010 he was picked for Team GB which won silver at the 2011 European Championships.
Jonnie (19,) had to have his lower right leg amputated when he was just five years old and has only been competing professionally for the last three years. In 2009 he won a silver medal for his 100m performance at the London Disability Athletics Challenge and earlier this year broke the 100m world record at the Paralympic trials. He will be competing in the 100m and will hope to beat his personal best of 10.85sec.
Diana (29,) had both her lower legs as well as the fingers of her right hand amputated when she was 25. She will be presenting equestrianism on Channel 4, a sport that she herself has been heavily involved in.
Before her illness, Diana broke the national under-12 70 hurdles (which still stands 18 years later!) For the last two years she has competed at the Para Dressage national championships. Taken from her Book of Experience, Diana reflects, “When things are hard and painful it is much easier to become lazy and not do them. I was determined not to let this happen… the journey I have been through, and many of the people I have met, have taught me a lot about myself. There is always someone worse off.”
Daraine (29,) who had to have both her lower legs amputated as well as some of her fingertips when she was 16, will also be presenting on Channel 4 during the Paralympics. Before she contracted meningitis, Daraine, was a successful cross-country runner, having represented Ireland at junior level. However, since her illness, Daraine has not only been crowned Irish Person of the Year, appointed to the Irish Council of State by the Irish President, she has also recently been learning to run again on a pair of running blades.