Paralympics: Aylesbury Athlete Selected
22 May 2012, 14:40
A 19-year-old athlete from Aylesbury, chosen to represent Great Britain at the Paralympic Games, says she's incredibly proud to have been selected.
Gemma Collis was spotted by the GB fencing coach 6 months ago while she was representing Durham University at wheelchair basketball.
The teenager had competed at a high level in sports from a young age, including ice-skating, hockey and triple jump.
In 2008, Gemma developed a nervous system disease called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. It affects the functioning of the nerves in her right leg, causing altered sensation and extreme pain and means she has to use a wheelchair.
Ms Collis said: "Shortly after starting my law degree at Durham University last year, whilst training for basketball, I was approached by Professor Laszlo Jakab, the GB Wheelchair Fencing head coach and university head coach, who asked me if I'd like to try wheelchair fencing. I tried it and really enjoyed it."
"Competing in the Paralympics is a dream in itself, but getting the opportunity to do so in front of a home crowd should make it all the more special.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I just can't wait."
Ms Collis was particularly strong in triple jump and had hoped to compete in the 2012 Olympics, until she was diagnosed with her condition.
Thinking she would never be able to take part in sport again - she began coaching, officiating and volunteering at sports events;
"It was whilst doing this that I discovered disability sports.
"Whilst volunteering at the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Birmingham in 2010, I discovered that my condition qualified me to play wheelchair basketball as a minimally disabled player so that November I began playing wheelchair basketball.''