Paralympian gold medallist Chris Hunt Skelley MBE has been named as one of the top ten sports personalities in the latest Disability Power 100 list.
The list recognises the most influential people with disabilities in the UK and celebrates their achievements and ambitions.
It is compiled by the Shaw Trust and supported by organisations such as Channel 4, Swindon-based Nationwide and Nimbus Disability.
The Shaw Trust is a social purpose organisation which exists to challenge inequality, encourage and promote inclusion and accessibility, and facilitate diversity and fairness across the UK.
Wroughton-based Chris, who is the current Judo Paralympic gold medallist, having won gold in the Tokyo2020 Paralympic Games, was surprised but delighted by the news of his inclusion on the shortlist.
He said: "I'm just so shocked and honoured to be in the top ten of the sports section on the Disability Power 100 list. I do this sport because I love it so, to be recognised for it, well, that's incredible. I didn’t even know I’d be nominated!”
Chris first took up Judo at the age of five and says it helped him in his teenage years to get through one of the most difficult periods of his life, when he was diagnosed with ocular albinism, a rare genetic disorder caused by the inability of the pigment cells in the eyes to produce normal amounts of pigment.
This results in visual disturbances such as blurred vision, difficulty with perceiving depth of field and sensitivity to bright lights. Chris is registered blind but it took him years to get a diagnosis.
After repeatedly being told there was nothing wrong with him, despite experiencing significant challenges with his sight, he travelled to the US at the age of 19 to undergo intense testing and it was then that he was finally diagnosed.
Judo has been a constant in his life and he credits his nightly Judo routine with getting him through these challenges and ultimately enabling him to remain positive, rising to compete at the highest possible level and achieving a gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. He is now training hard to qualify to compete at Paris2024.
Earlier this year, Chris was named as one of five Paralympic ambassadors for Path to Paris, an initiative set up by Get Set, the official youth engagement programme from Team GB and Paralympics GB. The programme encourages children aged five to 11 to get active by following in their sporting heroes’ footsteps and completing a range of physical activities.
It also helps educate them about the Olympics, Paralympics and particular athletes and their sports, as well as giving them the chance to win sports-themed prizes such as sports equipment and exclusive visits to their schools from Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Chris says that being named on the Disability Power 100 is a huge honour as he continues to inspire others through programmes such as Path to Paris and to compete and train on the lead up to Paris next year.
He added: “I'm just so grateful to everyone who has supported me on my journey and my thanks go to everyone who has believed in me along the way."
The Disability Power 100 list was first launched in 2014 and has previously included Stephen Hawking, Dame Tanni Grey Thompson and Stephen Fry.
Chris was awarded an MBE in the New Years’ Honours list for his contribution to sport and for his caring in the community during the pandemic, for which he won a social impact award.
His website is https://chrishuntskelley.co.uk
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