Fran Williamson at KSA Awards Evening
Paralympian Fran Williamson spoke about her inspirational sporting achievements at KSA’s Awards Evening and how despite being born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, a condition causing poor fine-motor skills, she became a six-time Paralympic medallist and five-time world champion swimmer.
Paralympian Fran Williamson spoke about her inspirational sporting achievements at KSA’s Achievement Awards Evening and how despite being born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, a condition causing poor fine-motor skills, she became a six-time Paralympic medallist and five-time world champion swimmer.
She said ‘When I was younger, I had no confidence and no dreams. My mum tried hard to tell me that I could do anything I wanted but I didn’t believe her. I didn’t do well at school, was bullied and told that I was stupid…until I found sport!'
‘People had been trying to teach me to swim since I was a child and I wasn’t interested until I was about 11 years old when I realised that I was actually quite good at it.’
Fran then started to enter some competitions, which resulted in her achieving a world record at just 13 years old. She said ‘This is what gave me a reason to dream, I was then able to look past the limitations others set for me.’
Since then Fran has not looked back and went on to achieve 5 world championship gold medals and competed in two Paralympic Games (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008).
She said ‘There can be no greater honour than representing my country at one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It was tough though and while they were the best times in my life they were also the hardest.’
In the run up to the Beijing Games Fran was struck down with a major injury and told she wasn’t fit enough to compete and doing so could mean she will never compete again.
She said ‘I am quite stubborn and if you tell me not to do something I will do it. I thought what if I do walk away? I’ve trained for 4 years for this. Then I thought what if I give it a go? I know then that I have tried. So I decided that I would rather have a life of 'oh wells' rather than 'what ifs.’
Fran decided to go against her doctor’s advice and competed in both races. She came away from the competition achieving a Bronze and Silver medal.
She said 'Pride comes from knowing you’ve worked hard. I had to have two lots of surgery after the games and hours and hours of physio but a year later, I returned to the water and within months I had regained my 50m backstroke World Champion title.’
She said ‘By this time I started to believe that I could achieve things so one night, aged 22, I decided that my education was worth fighting for and I applied for university.’
Fran currently has a First Class degree, a Masters degree, an Honorary Doctorate and an Honorary Fellowship.
She told the audience ‘I haven’t been handed anything on a plate. I have been doubted, overlooked, bulled, told no countless times…but I have dreamed, I have worked hard and I have won. Keep dreaming, keep working and keep winning.'
Fran finished by saying ‘I always love coming to awards ceremonies. It fills me with admiration to see young people succeeding and being awarded for their talents, hard work and dedication. I am hopeful that receiving these awards, you’ll be inspired to keep going to achieve even more.’