A woman from Shropshire who severely injured her leg in a horse riding accident is hoping to represent Team GB in next year’s Paralympics – and she needs sponsorship to help her achieve her dream.
Kelda Wood, of Shrewsbury, is currently training with the British Canoeing team in the paracanoe discipline, and has a good chance of making it to Rio next summer.
But she needs the support of businesses, organisations and individuals to provide sponsorship for to continue training full-time to give herself the best shot of qualifying.
Kelda said: “I trained racehorses for a living and severely injured my left ankle back in 2002. It left me with a degenerative joint which is fused with arthritis.
“I rode horses professionally and my life revolved around sport. The injury meant I had to give up everything I loved.
“It was a really tough time and I was very bitter about things, it took me 10 years, but eventually I started to look for a new challenge. I managed to get a place on a trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and it changed my outlook completely.
“I then started working at the Battle Back Centre working with wounded, sick and injured servicemen and women, and also set up my own charity, called Climbing Out, which runs five-day residential outdoor activity programmes aimed at rebuilding confidence and self esteem in young people who have been through a life-changing injury or illness.
“Then 18 months ago I was invited to a Talent ID day by GB Paracanoe, and when I started I just knew it was the sport for me.
“Being part of the Paralympics team has changed my life. I now totally accept my injury and have no bitterness towards it, and if I could make it to Rio in 2016 it would just be a dream come true.”
Team GB coaches are confident that Kelda has the ability to qualify for Rio, but she needs to train full-time – and that means finding some financial backing.
She recently left her job at the Battle Back Centre to concentrate on her paracanoe training at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.
She said: “I am aiming to raise £20,000, and have just welcomed my first sponsor, East Midlands Civil Engineering Ltd, who are donating £1,000.
“Other people are giving me practical support, such as performance coaching company HBP-NLP who are really helping me be the best I can be, and Shropshire-based PR company, J&PR Ltd, who are helping to spread the word about my challenge.
“Geoff Ward film and photography has produced a video clip explaining my journey, which can be viewed on YouTube by searching Kelda’s Road to Rio.
“I am so grateful for all the support I am getting, and it would be amazing if more companies could manage to donate some financial assistance towards the training and living costs.”
Kelda added: “It would mean everything to me to be able to represent Great Britain and Shropshire in the biggest sports event in the world.
“As a little girl I used to stand on a stile in the field behind my house and pretend it was the Olympic podium and I was being presented with my Gold medal, so to be in with a shot of getting there for real is incredibly special.”
“I have just been selected as the GB second boat and will now head to a training camp in Belo, Brazil in January.
“There’s a lot of hard work to do over the winter, but I fully believe I can hit the times I need to hit and be the boat that heads to Rio next September.”
For more information and to offer support, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 07977 574785.