Paralympian Sophia Warner - it's so important to have more disabled people in sport

Sophia Warner is a Paralympian track and field athlete and represented the UK in the 2012 Paralympics. She is partnerships director of Parallel London, the UK’s largest disability-led challenge event which will take place on 4 September 2016.

Sophia, who has cerebral palsy, talks about her love of running and why everyone should get involved.

[x_blockquote cite=”Sophia Warner” type=”left”]”I don’t see why disabled people shouldn’t have as much fun as everyone else. It’s really important to get them involved.”[/x_blockquote]

“I first started running as a child. I’d go out with my brother, who is really good at cross country. I never thought about my disability when I was out running – I’m quite competitive and just wanted to keep up.

“I didn’t think about running competitively until I was much older. In fact, when I was a teenager – at around 13 or 14 – my dad sat me down and gave me a big lecture about doing well at school because, he said, ‘you’ll be a rubbish waitress or athlete’. The night before I competed in the 2012 Paralympics, I rang him up and reminded him he’d said this. We both had a good laugh!

“I joined a running club, the Herne Hill Harriers in South London, in my early 20s. I was spotted when I took part in a 10k run and they suggested I go on a training weekend in Sheffield. I didn’t realise until then how good I was. Immediately it became obvious that I was an elite athlete – I was right at the front in every race.

“I’m really a long distance runner – that’s what I excel at – but there weren’t any opportunities to take part competitively as an elite athlete except in 100 or 200 metre races. I had to take up strength training to compete, but I wasn’t alone. Disability sports have come a long way since then, but there’s still no long-distance qualification. I’ve always competed on the lowest ambulation.

“I’m often asked in interviews about motivation and whether there was someone or something my life that encouraged me to start running competitively. I come from a very sporty family and my parents were always supportive, but I can’t pinpoint one person or event. All I can say is I love running, I’ve always loved sports, that’s what motivates me.

“I’d love to see more disabled people involved in sport for the same reasons I love it – it makes you happier, it makes you feel good. I don’t see why disabled people shouldn’t have as much fun as everyone else. It’s really important to get them involved.

“Although I don’t run competitively anymore, I still run regularly and I’m hoping to take part in Parallel. It’s going to be such a great event. It’s all about inclusivity and celebrating diversity on a huge scale. It’s great to be part of it.”

Join Team Livability at Parallel London

Parallel London will be held on 4 September 2016 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. As a proud platinum partner, Livability is offering free charity places.

To book your place, or to find out more about the event and how to get involved, click here.