Sending her son Benjamin away to school at age 10 was the hardest decision Alison ever had to make, but it gave him the opportunity to become a world class athlete. The British runner, who has cerebral palsy, will be going for gold at this year’s Paralympic Games.
“When you have a disabled child you have no idea what’s going to become of them,” explains Alison. “You tend to err on the side that life’s not going to be that great. But he was always a fighter, always determined.”
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Wanting to give Ben the best possible chance of doing well, Alison and the family made the difficult decision to send him away to a specialist school. She admits it was a heart-wrenching moment, with Ben needing physical restraint to let his family leave.
“We knew he was bright and we knew he wasn’t thriving in mainstream education,” Alison says. “But how I got home that day I don’t know. I cried for the whole two and three quarter hour journey.”
But once settled, Ben excelled at school, especially when he became serious about athletics at 16.
“That was when my weekends changed,” admits dedicated mum Alison.
Ben was part of the British Olympic team that headed to Beijing in 2010, but he had a serious problem to contend with. Just 10 days before he flew out, he broke his foot.
“I was so worried. When I saw him on TV I was trying to read his body language,” remembers Alison. “But he looked round the stadium and smiled and that’s when I knew he’d give it his all.”
And despite the odds, Ben did, walking away with a silver medal in the 100m. Here’s hoping he’ll go one step further this year.
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