BETH Sewell will represent Great Britain for the final time at the World Deaf Athletics Championships in Toronto, Canada, July 15-21.
The 30-year-old hammer thrower from Cashes Green in Stroud, contracted pneumococcal meningitis when she was 13 months old, and as a result was left with no hearing in her left ear and has 92% hearing loss in her right ear.
Doctors at the time predicted that Beth would be unable to do anything for herself physically, but she went on to prove them wrong and has been competing for GB for almost a decade.
During this time she has ranked number one and two in the UK and, in the world top five.
Beth has also competed in the European Deaf Athletics Championship in Bulgaria in 2007, where she was gold medalist - beating the silver medalist by 5m.
In 2008 she took part in the World Championship in Turkey, where she finished in fifth place with a throw just 3cm off her personal best and, in 2009, Beth was awarded a financial grant from the Meningitis Trust to take her to the Deaf olympics in Taipei, Taiwan, where she came sixth.
Now, again with the financial support of the Trust, Beth will take on her last GB Deaf Athletics challenge, after a decision to step-down from professional competing. Beth said: “Whilst I still hope to throw further and maybe even get a British deaf record (over 50m) before I retire from hammer completely, I think the time has come to step aside from deaf athletics - although never say never! I will continue to throw but only for enjoyment.
“I am so grateful for the support that the Meningitis Trust has given me, not only through funding to allow me to follow my dreams, but for the support and opportunities they have given me. “My mum was involved in the early set-up of the Trust and I hope, that in years to come, I will too, be able to give back to the Trust through fundraising, so that someone else can have the same opportunities that I have had.” Sue Davie, chief executive at the Meningitis Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be able to provide financial support to Beth in her last competition as a professional deaf athlete.
“The Meningitis Trust has reached out to a record number of people affected by the disease over the last year, through its unique financial grant support scheme. Grants of more than a quarter of a million pounds - the most ever given in a year - were awarded to 185 individuals - the highest number of recipients.
“Beth is a true inspiration to others living with the after-effects of meningitis today and we wish her the very best of luck and look forward to following her progress throughout the competition,” Sue added.
The Trust is the only meningitis charity in the UK to give financial support in this way, helping to reduce the burden of unexpected financial pressures on families at a time when they need it the most and encouraging people, like Beth, to reach their full potential.
For more information please visit www.meningitis-trust.org