What makes an athlete? Is it how fast they run? How high they jump?… Or is it that determination that burns within them, forcing them onward, to go further, to run faster, to reach higher?
Recently, an American veteran, Kirstie Ennis made a Summit Climb of the Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia having already climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, all with an above the knee amputation on her left leg. Closer to home, Jonathan who is missing his left leg and a portion of his back muscle, used in reconstructive surgery, is undertaking a series of endurance swims, and raising money for Legs4Africa.
Such people break the mold, prove the strength of human spirit in the face of adversity, as well as making me feel more like a kindred of sloth-kind rather than the human race… Race? See what I did there?..
As I slip under the shower, warm water cascading on to my sweaty head, I resolve to find out more about para-athletics, and I know just who to ask.
Cassie Cava is a para-athlete who is part of the Great Britain Triathlon Talent Squad and on her way to being the first woman to represent Great Britain in snowboarding in the Winter Paralympics next March. It’s a testament to her tenacity that, just six months after her amputation, Cassie also cycled from London to Paris to raise money for Legs4Africa… And she was kind enough to give me some time out of training to answer a few questions…
So, Cassie, you seem to do everything, snowboarding, cycling, running… What other sports are accessible to amputees?
“I can’t think of any sport that isn’t accessible with a prosthetic leg. Impact sports are more problematic – I can’t run or snowboard every day because the part of my leg that is taking all of the pressure and my weight just isn’t built for that kind of impact. However, with good fitting sockets and access to the right feet, these can be overcome.”