‘Get Busy Living!’ Matt Hampson Foundation Support
20 Dec 16
I met Matt Hampson or Hambo, during my 3 months of rehab in Stoke Mandeville. He broke his neck during an England Under 21 rugby training session but rather than let being paralysed from the neck down, and breathing via the aid of a ventilator stop him, it seems to have spurred him on!
Hambo set up the Matt Hampson Foundation, and with the motto ‘Get busy living!’ they provide advice, support, relief and/or treatment for anyone suffering serious injury or disability which has arisen from any cause, but in particular from participation in or training for any sport, sporting activity or other form of physical education or recreation.
In 2006 my life was turned upside down. I was 26 and aspiring to become a professional snowboarder, but whilst competing in a boardercross competition in Japan, I crash landed a 30 foot tabletop jump. The next day, the doctor told me I’d broken my back had a 98% chance that I would never walk again.
Not walking wasn’t a major concern but I was devastated by the thought that I’d never snowboard again or achieve my sporting dreams. I lay in hospital watching one of my competitors compete in the Turin Olympic Games; that was one of the hardest experiences of my life.
However I spoke to a Canadian Paralympic Alpine Skier and immediately decided to try the sport. A year later I discovered just how challenging monoskiing is but I knew I’d discovered a new passion. I went from feeling as if my life was over to setting new goals to work towards, becoming a Paralympic skier.
After three years of intensive training with the British Disabled Ski Team, I was delighted to finish 6th in Slalom in the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics. I set my sights on Sochi 2014 but there was very little financial support so training was my biggest challenge. Skiing is notoriously expensive as it requires highly specialised kit and you have to train predominantly abroad.
My cousin suggested approaching the Matt Hampson Foundation. It was great to see Matt again, after all he has achieved, and the charity agreed to fund two British Team training camps to Austria and then I won 6 World Cup medals in the build up to Sochi to add to my 57 career medals.
I was elated to qualify for all 5 Alpine events and get selected for the British Paralympic Team for Sochi 2014. Without the support of the Matt Hampson Foundation, I would have been less well prepared and may not have qualified for the Games. I competed hard in Sochi, pointing the ski down in horrendous conditions on the toughest downhill course in the history of the Winter Games.
It was going well and I was in bronze medal position when I crashed at 68mph. Miraculously I didn’t hurt myself. I competed in the other events, and finished 4th, 6th and 8th.
I was disappointed. I have had bleak days. But feel incredibly fortunate.
I have spent 7 years representing GB at the very top level in the fastest and one of the most dangerous Paralympic Sports. I’m extremely passionate about skiing and my supporters have made it possible for me to achieve things I never thought possible.
Thank you Hambo, your team and fundraisers for making dreams come true!