Sportswomen of the Year awards - Sunday Times(2 Posts)
All credit to the Times for a large spread on the Sportswomen of the Year awards. Just thought amidst all the general abuse and silencing and attempts to eradicate women, how great it was to read something positive about women and sport.
One article: the inspiring story of Anoushe Husain - paraclimbing no less!
*"When Anoushe Husain talks of experiencing a moment of breakthrough, she is not referring to the countless operations that have punctuated her 30 years of life or celebrating her recovery from cancer. She is talking about climbing: paraclimbing, to be precise.
For the natural reason that her right arm, what she calls her “little arm”, extends only fractionally beyond the elbow, Husain climbs using her legs and left arm. But, two weeks ago, while training at the Castle Climbing Centre in north London, she found the confidence and the strength to hang, just momentarily, from the crook in the elbow of her right arm. As yet, the manoeuvre has not been named, but as Husain has spent the past two years pushing back the boundaries of possibility on the climbing wall, she would be entitled to claim the rights.
The spirit of Helen Rollason, the first female presenter of Grandstand whose pioneering career and prolonged battle with cancer proved an inspiration to so many women, runs deep in Husain, the 2017 winner of the Award for Inspiration named after the BBC broadcaster. Husain has fought so long and so hard against ill health, it is difficult to unravel all the different strands or to honour any one particular aspect of a remarkable character.
When a friend told her she ought to try climbing, Husain silently listed a number of the potential pitfalls. “I’m a girl, a Muslim with one hand and a load of health issues,” she wrote subsequently. “I was scared, nervous, but I had no reason not to try.” The negatives have turned into a triumphant positive. Just two years after she faced a climbing wall for the first time, Husain, who was born and brought up in Luxembourg but has a British passport, is the UK’s second-ranked climber in her class.
Husain has been adopted by many as a symbol of hope. Through the power of social media, a 300-word blog about her journey took on a life of its own. “People were coming back to me saying they’d changed things in their life because of my story and it snowballed from there,” she says. “I’m uncomfortable with the phrase ‘role model’. Helen pushed through a lot of glass ceilings and to receive an award named after her is incredible and helps me to accept it.”
Husain has become an ambassador for LimbPower, a charity that helps amputees and people with limb impairment. She climbed the height of Everest (logging up 8,850m on an indoor wall) for Shine Cancer Support and promotes countless other projects, all of which have to be fitted around her day job as a policy adviser in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The climbing wall, though, has been Husain’s catalyst for change — physical, emotional and social. Instead of the fight, still ongoing, against Ehler Danlos Syndrome, a rare disorder that affects the tendons and soft tissue around joints, or the grind of chemotherapy, Husain now concentrates on doing battle with a cold, inanimate wall. She rarely wins but so swift has been her progress that a place on the GB paraclimbing team is starting to become a real possibility.
“Climbing a wall represents life for me,” she says. “I used to swim and do karate but I had to stop because my joints were falling out of place. I had 10 operations and I was just thinking, ‘Oh good, that’s sorted’ when I got cancer. The diagnosis came so fast, I was back in surgery six days later. You just go into survival mode. I could barely walk when a friend said, ‘Let’s get you on the wall’.
“I said, ‘You must be insane.’ But I went along and, though I was in a lot of pain for days, I realised there was something in it. It’s like doing gym, but vertically. It gave me the drive to get my life back on track.”*
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