Swindon Lives: in conversation with Thomas Stamp

By Ben Fitzgerald - 20 December 2018

CommunityFeaturesCharitySport

For years, remarkable teenager Thomas Stamp suffered bullying and physical attacks.

The 16-year-old, now a student at New College, lives with cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia, ADHD and mild autism.

Despite these barriers Thomas, from Wroughton, was determined to rise above the challenges that life has thrown at him - and it is this determination that has seen him represent his country as a paralympic sprinter in the T35 category - running in 100m, 200m and 400m.

And his inspirational example has led to his being recognised with The Colin Raines trophy for Endeavour by CP Sport - a leading national disability sports charity- at the Cerebral Palsy Sport Awards

Thomas explained: “I was always determined for people to see ‘me’ rather than the disability, but my behaviour got  in the way due to the bullying and attacks that I received. I was so angry and mistrustful of people. I do not let it hold me back in fact it made me more determined. 

"I started going to the local access days arranged by Swindon Community Health and wellbeing team. On one of these days it was at the Swindon County Ground Athletics track. 

"There, I was able to access and have a go at various bikes and sports that at school and home I wouldn’t have had access to. Whilst having a go at Boxing, a disability sports officer Job King gave my family a card and he thought I had potential. I was curious but due to my CP I didn’t hold much hope.

"Unfortunately, I did not get on at the local sports athletics club but was really enjoying the disability sports. 

"We all helped one another, and I had nothing to prove to anyone. We were all accepting of each other’s needs and I realised that I could run. I entered for the Southwest Regional CP football talent team and was amazed when after trials I got selected. I loved it and again made new friends. 

"As well as playing football, I was also introduced to Coach Mark Lodge of South Gloucester A.C  who really took me under his wing and could see the huge potential in me. Mark has encouraged me, guided me and even got me through some tough times. I am part of a great athletics club with everyone encouraging each other and one great coach and his assistant Phil. With regular training in all weathers I was cutting off time and getting faster.”

Thomas also signed up for Cerebral Palsy Sport where he made even more friends. 

"My confidence excelled and had more running opportunities."

Thomas has noticed the huge impact that participating in sport has made on his life.

He explained: “My health has improved as has my confidence and no longer am I so frustrated. 

"The friends I have made via race meets, club and meeting Paralympians and Olympians has given my whole outlook a different meaning.  

"At times it can be hard, and I have days when I just want a break from physio and training but at the end of the day if I don`t put in the effort then I am not going to achieve my goals and dreams. Plus, my muscles will become stiffer and walking and running will be harder for me. 

"I have come from being in a wheelchair

(occasionally) and not even being able to jump a small hurdle to now not using a wheelchair and I can jump as well as run. 

“I have my mum and dad to thank for keeping me motivated when I had some very dark days and some very early morning starts. Helping me with my stretches and physio and yes, my nutrition. As it is known I like a burger or cheese and ham sandwich before a race. I seem to win medals and get PBs so it must be good.”

Thomas has represented the Midlands at the School Games where he won Silver in 100m. 

And was selected and qualified for the CISPRA World Games in Barcelona. 

“This was an amazing experience, of bonding with the team as well as meeting some truly superb athletes from around the world. I was still recovering from injuries but determined to do my country and team proud, I won two silver medals in 100m and 200m.”

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