RIPLEY: Paralympian sports star shares her story

London 2012 Paralympian star Judith Hamer with Ripley's Mill Hill School pupils.
London 2012 Paralympian star Judith Hamer with Ripley's Mill Hill School pupils.

GREAT Britain Paralympic wheelchair basketball player Judith Hamer gave an inspirational talk to students at Mill Hill School in Ripley.

Students at the school heard how Judith, 21, was born with one leg shorter than the other and after undergoing 18 unsuccessful operations to lengthen her leg, she decided at the age of 15 to have it

amputated below the knee.

It was only after the surgery that Judith decided to take up sport and became interested in wheelchair basketball, progressing to become part of the GB women’s team before making her Paralympic debut at the London 2012 Games.

She was part of the women’s team that secured their best performance at a Games since Atlanta 1996, finishing in seventh place.

Rob Lund, PE teacher and school sports co-ordinator at Mill Hill, said everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

He said: “We were extremely fortunate to be able to have Judith visit school. She spoke to students about her experiences growing up as a disabled person, in sport generally, her rise to become a GB Paralympian and she showcased her skills during a guest session, all of which were absolutely superb. It was incredibly inspiring and thoroughly enjoyed by all the students.”

Judith’s visit was organised through Amber Valley School Sports Partnership, which is working with the school to run wheelchair basketball sessions for students for five weeks until the end of March.

Mill Hill has also arranged for the wheelchairs provided by AVSSP to be used by extra-curricular sports clubs and for primary schools affiliated to Mill Hill.

The partnership’s sports leaders are delivering the sessions, including Jack-Henry Melbourne, 16, who is a student at Mill Hill.

He said: “We are always looking at ways of introducing students to different types of sports and this is not just a regular sport. I have played it and found it a lot better than basketball, it’s really high octane and you have to be able to manoeuvre the wheelchair, you have to shoot a lot higher and make sure that you don’t collide with the other wheelchairs.”

Phil Basterfield, development manager for AVSSP, has also arranged for a wheelchair basketball coach to deliver a session for Special Educational Needs students from Mill Hill and other primary schools.