On Wednesday 25 September, Paralympic swimmer Fran Williamson gave an inspirational talk to the Royal Hospital School Middle School about her life and the obstacles she had to overcome to achieve all that she has.
Fran has overcome severe disabilities caused by Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, as well as a fear of water, to become a world swimming champion. Athetoid Cerebral Palsy is a condition that affects fine motor movements and, in Fran’s case, her walking. Despite these difficulties, Fran has represented Great Britain at the Athens and Beijing Olympics in 2004 and 2008 respectively, gaining a total of six bronze and silver medals. She has also broken various records throughout her career.
Having only learned to swim at the age of 12, Fran entered the European Championships aged 15 and won 2 bronze medals; she would later go on to win 13 other medals, not including her Paralympic medals.
The main theme of Fran’s talk was about how important confidence in what you do is, regardless of your goals, and that she would rather have a life of “Oh wells” than “What ifs?”. In other words, she would rather compete and fail, than not compete and wonder for the rest of her life whether or not she would have succeeded.
As an example she talked about injuring her shoulder in preparation for the Beijing Paralympic Games. The morning before her first event, she nearly withdrew due to excruciating pain in her shoulder but she raced, and won a silver medal. Had she withdrawn, she would never have achieved what she did.
The School would like to thank Fran for giving such a fantastic talk to pupils in Years 9 to 11 and to Mr Graham for organising it.
Jamie Warren, Year 11