However, an ankle injury on my 17th birthday in April 1996 triggered the onset of an extremely rare and painful illness, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS. This led to my left leg being amputated above the knee in January 2003. Unfortunately, the disease in my upper leg meant I was unable to wear an artificial extension. A few years later, the disease had spread to my right leg, forcing a second amputation. It was clear that I would be a permanent wheelchair user; my career in competitive sailing was over.
But everything changed when I purchased a handcycle attachment for my wheelchair. I quickly became competent in a new form of exercise. In 2007, I became a double World Champion, winning both the Time Trial and Road Race competitions in Barcelona. As a result, I was given formal Olympic funding and went on to win Gold in Beijing 2008.
The London 2012 Paralympic Games are fixed firmly in my sights; I’m looking forward to defending my medal!