Shelly Woods-The Rising star of Wheelchair Racing!
Shelly Woods is one of the biggest rising wheelchair racing stars in the world. Her most recent race was the ING New York Marathon on November 1, 2009 where she placed second behind world champion Paralympic athlete, Edith Hunkeler from Switzerland. Shelly tells Get Kids Going! that she loves the New York Marathon, because the race is one of the toughest marathons for wheelchair racers due to all the hills. She is very proud about how the race went, and is extremely happy to have given Edith a tough race that came down to the finish line.
Shelly was born on June 5, 1986 in Blackpool. She was a very active young girl who loved playing a variety of sports. That didn’t change, when at the age of eleven, Shelly fell 20 feet out of the tree she had been climbing, and broke her back. She suffered severe injuries to her T12-L1 vertebra that left her unable to walk. The transition from being able to run and play sports to having to stay in a wheelchair was difficult at first for her. But she was young and had the support of her family. She says that her parents and her two brothers treated her the same as before the accident, and always encouraged her to do anything she wanted to do. If she had a dream, her parents encouraged her to follow it. After Shelly’s accident, her dad drove her around to help her try and find a wheelchair sports she wanted to play.
When she was about 15, Shelly went to a local wheelchair club in the Northwest to check out racing. After talking to other wheelchair athletes and coaches, she decided that she wanted to race. Get Kids Going! gave Shelly her first proper racing wheelchair when she was 15.
Previously, her father had bought her a used racing wheelchair to help get her started, but the chair really did not fit her properly. The chair changed her life, and got her “rolling” in her racing career. She tells Get Kids Going! that, “It [wheelchair racing] has given me a sense of accomplishment, and taught me to a conquer many challenges though hard work. It’s fun. I have seen some very cool places and met loads of new people. My life would be totally different without it.”
Shelly trains six days a week during racing season. When she isn’t training for marathons, Shelly likes to go shopping and play tennis with her brothers and boyfriend (she says she regularly beats them which makes them mad).
The biggest obstacle Shelly has had to overcome in her racing career was dealing with the crash in her 5000m final in the Beijing Paralympics where she had to hand back her silver metal. In the second to last lap of the 5,000m final, half of the field was involved in a terrible crash. Shelly was quick enough to avoid the crash, and continued on to win a silver metal. Unfortunately the officials decided the race would have to be re-run. The race was re-run except this time Shelly came in third place. Third is still fantastic! But it is hard to downgrade medals.
At the same time winning two Olympic medals in Beijing, silver in the 1500m and bronze in the 5000m, are her biggest achievements. Shelly is looking foreword to competing in London 2012. Her goal is to win any colour medal. Get Kids Going! will be a constant support for Shelly, and is looking foreword to seeing her compete in the London Paralympics.
A Shelly Woods’ achievements include:
• Won two Paralympic medals in 2008, silver in the 1500m and bronze in 5000m in the Beijing Paralympic games
• Commonwealth games 800m finalist
• Placed second in the ING New York marathon twice
• Broke the 1500m British women’s record
• Won the BUPA Great North Run in 2008
• Won the Flora London Marathon for women in 2007
• Win the Los Angeles Marathon for women in 2007
You can read more about the rising star at:
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