Welcome to Tracy Jones-SDN member, former Welsh Athlete, raised in Anglesey now living in Shropshire who shares her personal story with us. Thank you Tracy.
Just imagine, me taking part in the Paralympics in Athens. I’d worked hard for this, my family had been truly supportive. One last hurdle to get over.
I spent a lot of time in the Algarve in Portugal warm weather training in preparation for the Paralympics in Athens 2004. My last trip to the Algarve was partly funded by the National Lottery. A few months later I tore a ligament in my left knee and I was forced to quit. I was simply mortified. I would never wear a Great Britain tracksuit. It was the end of the world for me. It was the night before the Grand Prix qualifying stage in London in preparation for the Paralympics 2004 in Athens. I felt a sharp pain in my left knee when I was throwing the discus. I thought nothing much and just carried on. Of course I didn’t tell anyone and travelled to London the next day.
The day didn’t go too well for me. I felt sick, I was in agony, and that was before my events. My club throwing left a lot to be desired. My discus wasn’t too bad. I would have got silver if they were presenting medals.
I arrived back home in Oswestry. Still in agony, I went to bed. Mum called the doctor.He suspected that I had torn a ligament in my left knee. Knowing only too well what this could mean I took some pain killers and cried myself to sleep. Weeks later I went to see a specialist in Shrewsbury Hospital. I was sent for an X – ray. My worst fear was confirmed. I had torn a ligament in my left knee and my sporting career was now over.
The doctor told me that key hole surgery was an option, but as I also had arthritis and my knee hadn’t formed properly anyway there was a chance that I’d never be able to stand up again and I could have lost what little mobility I had. The doctor also added, if I was going to go ahead with the surgery I’d need to go for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. I declined and left the hospital as quickly as I could.
From that moment on I felt useless and I struggled to see the point in doing anything. My days so long and it was one sleepless night after another. I was no longer part of a team. I began to feel isolated. It was almost like I was grieving. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I felt really low. Eventually I went to the doctors. I was diagnosed with depression.
One day I suddenly remembered what Anthony (my coach) had said to me one Thursday evening in training. “Tracy you’ve got the mouth for this.” He meant sports coaching. So just out of interest, and to see if he was right, in September 2007 I enrolled myself on an introductory diploma in sport at Walford and North Shropshire College. I passed with merit and I just kept going back for more.
Four years later with three diplomas, two Student of the Year trophies, and the option to go to university, I was definitely happy again.
I have always been keen on sport. When I was just seven years old I beat Tanni Grey Thompson in a wheelchair race in a school sports day at Ysgol Gogarth in Llandudno. I was buzzing with excitement. When I became a student at Derwen College in Gobowen in 1997, I had no idea that I was going to be transformed from an average nineteen year old to a world class athlete.
Next time: What happened that made Tracy write “All I did for weeks and weeks and weeks was throw these dreadful blue sandbags at a net & what happens to make me happy!”