Local gold-medalist paralympian leads masterclass to inspire young people in Ireland

By Jessica Durston - 10 February 2023

  • Chris Hunt Skelley MBE PLY

    Chris Hunt Skelley MBE PLY

World number one, and Paralympic judo champion Chris Hunt Skelley MBE, is working with young people to inspire them through sport.

Chris, who won the gold medal in his weight category in Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, is supporting young judo fans in Northern Ireland at the British Judo Member Club, Simply Judo. 

The two-day event is for club members and coaches. It is said to also include specific classes for adaptive members too.

Chris is club president of two clubs for the deaf, blind and visually impaired in Northern Ballymoney and Jordanstown. Chris himself is registered blind. 

The weekend of judo adaptive education and coaching masterclasses are being delivered by Chris along with judo adaptive coaching experts Kerry and Paul Tansey. These sessions are being held in one of Simply Judo’s Centres of Excellence at Maghaberry.

Chris was 17 years of age when his eyesight began to deteriorate. At 19 he was diagnosed with ocular albinism, which meant he had to discontinue his work as a mechanic.

The same year Chris tried judo, after attending classes as a child, he later went on to train full-time at the British Judo Centre of Excellence in Walsall. Chris says at a time when his dreams were destroyed by his loss of vision, judo saved him.

He added: “I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today and along the way I’ve been to the deepest darkest parts of my life. I’ve had to pull myself out of those moments. I’ve learned to adapt and change – like a phoenix from the ashes. 

“It’s why I enjoy doing these events because it’s important to talk to people about my story. I want to motivate and encourage anyone who felt like I did when I first started to lose my sight. 

“It’s why I’ll never lose my roots and won’t forget where I came from. I first did a masterclass in 2019 and loved it.” 

Chris is now also preparing for the Paris 2024 Paralympic qualifications. He recently took gold again at the IBSA Judo Portugal Grand Prix, earning him points towards qualifying for the next Paralympics.

Chris is married to fellow Paralympian Louise Hunt Skelley PLY, and they live in Wroughton with their therapy dog, Milo - a three-year-old Spanish Water Dog.  

The masterclass event will be held on Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 March at Maghaberry Community Centre on. There three classes on Saturday and two classes on Sunday.

The cost is £10 a session and more information can be found at www.simplyjudo.com

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