Gemma's Road To Rio
Having lost our UK Sport Funding in 2013, I am in desperate need of financial help to allow me to fund all of the qualifying international competitions in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Following the first 6 competitions in the qualification period, I currently lie 6th in the World in terms of Rio 2016 qualification, with ultimately the top 12 fencers in the world qualifying.
Please help me on my Road to Rio, anything you can give is much appreciated!!!
A little bit about me...
Growing up I was very athletic and participated in a variety of sports, competing at national level in Figure Skating and representing my county in Hockey and Athletics. By the age of fifteen, I was county triple jump champion and had high ambitions of competing for my country.
However, in 2008, those dreams were cruelly dashed when I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a progressive nervous system disease that affects the functioning of the nerves in my right leg. I was devastated and believed that my sporting career was over.
Determined to remain involved in sport, I began coaching, officiating and volunteering at sports events, discovering more about disability sport in the process. Realising that I was eligible, I began playing Wheelchair Basketball in 2010, competing for the Aces, Newcastle Eagles and Wales.
However, it was not until I started my Law degree at Durham University that I tried Wheelchair Fencing for the first time, after being spotted by the GB Head Coach, Laszlo Jakab. I immediately fell in love with the sport and fortunately those around me felt I had potential.
Three months later I represented Great Britain at my first international competition, the 2012 Malchow Wheelchair Fencing World Cup, and, just ten months after taking up the sport, competed at the London 2012 Paralympics. I competed as part of the women's Team Epee, alongside Gabi Down and Justine Moore, finishing in 8th place.
Since the Games I have struggled with serious illness and injury, spending months in hospital during late 2013. However shortly after leaving hospital I dusted off my weapons and began fencing again.
Within three weeks I became British Champion and six months later after a hard uphill battle to get back into shape and regain my prior form, I won my first World Cup medal, narrowly losing 15-14 to the 7-time Paralympic Champion in the Semi-Final to claim Bronze. I now have my sights firmly set on qualification for Rio 2016 and am working hard towards achieving my goals on a daily basis.
I am currently ranked 6th in the world in Epee in terms of qualification for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, with ultimately the top 12 in the world qualifying. My overall world ranking on the basis of a two year rolling ranking system is 8th in the World in Épée, and 19th for Foil.
2012 – London 2012 Paralympic Games
Women’s Team Épée – 8th
2012 – Egar Wheelchair Fencing World Cup
Women’s Foil – 5th/ Women’s Épée – 5th
2013 - British Championships
Women's Épée GOLD
2014 - Challenge des Joinvillais
Women's Épée GOLD
2014 - Lonato Wheelchair Fencing World Cup
Women's Foil 8th/Women's Épée - BRONZE
2014 - Egar Wheelchair Fencing World Cup
Women's Foil - 8th/Women's Épée - BRONZE
Thank you so much for your time. Anything you can give will be a massive help to me on my Road to Rio - every single penny counts!!