Shelly Woods – my story so far
I was born on June 4 1986 in Blackpool, Great Britain. 11 years later I was injured in an accident which left me paralysed from the waist down. I broke my back and damaged my spinal cord T12-L1, after falling from a tree whilst I was playing with my friends.
As a youngster I have always loved playing sport and being active whilst playing with my friends and family. And after my accident I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to do that anymore. But with support from my family I quickly found that I could still do everything I liked doing before and to such a high level and was opened up to the whole new world of Paralympic sport.
So I tried pretty much everything from wheelchair basketball, swimming, athletics and even table tennis to find a sport that I enjoyed doing and I eventually found wheelchair racing.
At the age of 21, I proudly got selected to represent my country at the Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008. Racing each day in front of a packed stadium of 90,000 people in the amazing structure of the ‘Birds Nest’ .
In Beijing I brought home a Silver medal in the 1500m, a Bronze medal in the 5000m and finished 4th in the Marathon. An amazing experience and opportunity that I will never forget.
In 2010 I achieved one of my biggest personal ambitions. I broke the 1500m World Record. It now stands at 3m 21.2secs. It was previously held by one of the best wheelchair racers of all time, Chantal Petitclerc of Canada at 3m 24secs.
In 2011 I travelled to Christchurch in New Zealand for the IPC World Championships where I took Bronze in the 5000m. Then back in the UK I finished 2nd in the London Marathon in a sprint finish with the American Amanda McGrory, it was a quick race as we broke the course record by over a minute.
2012 was set to be a huge year for me and it got off to a fantastic start with a win in the London Marathon, a race I managed to lead out then win by quite a margin. Then came the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, which had been my main focus for a number of years and I was so excited to be racing on home soil in front of such a huge home crowd. I fought hard in my 3 events on the track and was disappointed to come away without a medal but it made me even more determined to get a good result in the Marathon, the last event of the Paralympics. It was an extremely hot day and was probably the hardest Marathon I have ever competed in but I held in there and managed to come away with a hard earned Silver medal. The London Paralympics was a fantastic experience and one I will never forget, I definitely learnt a lot which I’ll be able to take with me going forward.
Although I am incredibly proud of what I have already achieved so far, I strive to be better and my aim is ‘to be the best i can possibly be.’ The main reason I race is because I enjoy it as its alot of fun, but also I love the challenge of racing and the training involved and also love the speeds you can hit and cruise at on the track and road, which for the girls it tends to be about 20-22mph.
I work hard everyday in training with my team to be faster and stronger whilst racing against the best girls in the world and traveling the globe.
My ultimate ambition is still to win a Paralympic Gold Medal so long term I have the Rio 2016 Paralympics always in my mind. This year I will be competing in numerous Marathons (looking to defend my London Marathon title) as well as the World Champsionships in France in the Summer. Im really looking forward to racing and seeing what more I can achieve.
About Wheelchair Racing.
“Wheelchair racing is faster, more competitive and tougher than ever before, and really addictive! To get to the top and stay there is all about attitude – motivation, determination, dedication, power & speed. I believe I have what it takes!
Pushing myself to the limit, and beyond! The feeling I get when I “do the impossible?” whether it’s pushing a really fast time or winning a race, confirms that all the hard work paid off and we got it right – me and everyone behind me. I love it!
More coming soon……..