Emotional mum thrilled with Sam Ruddock’s selection for Paralympics
12 July 2012
Loughborough University’s Sam Ruddock says his mum Francisca was so overcome with emotion after his selection for the Team GB Paralympic athletics team that she cried.
Which is not surprising because Sam suffers from celebral palsy and was not supposed to be a sportsman, let alone a 100m and 200m sprinter in the London 2012 Paralympics which start with the opening ceremony on August 29.
Moreover, Sam’s selection came just four months after he took up sprinting, and weeks after he graduated in International Relations at Loughborough University.
It has, as you can see, been quite a year for the 22-year-old from Rugby, whose heart-warming story is not dissimilar to that of Adam Gemili who, seven months after swapping football for a full time career in athletics, is going to the Olympics as a sprinter with Team GB.
Sam also played football, albeit the American variety, with university side Loughborough Aces but switched to athletics after being spotted by Charnwood Athletic Club coach Joe McDonnell last December. He had his first race in April.
Sam, a T35 athlete, said: “My parents were thrilled and my mum cried as, naturally, most mothers would, especially a mother who was told when I was born that I would never ride a bike.
“And that I would never do normal things, or be a normal child. Now here I am, 22 years later, and I am making my Paralympic debut, in London of all places!”
Sam admits that his achievement has not really hit home yet, even though his mobile phone went into meltdown on Tuesday after the squad was announced.
He said: “It was mad. My phone was ringing from 11 o’clock when they announced the squad.
“My Facebook was going mad, and my Twitter was also going mad. A lot of people wanted to wish me congratulations. I had to take it all in and it still has not really sunk in that I have made the Paralympic team after four months as a sprinter.”
Sam says even his coach was stunned by his selection.
It was Joe who spotted Sam’s potential while he was training at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium when still playing American Football with the university team, the Loughborough Aces.
Sam says they will be working together before he jets off to Portugal for the Team GB holding camp with one aim in mind – to win a medal.
Sam, who is ranked No.1 in England and No.2 in Great Britain behind Wales’s Jordan Howe, said: “He can’t quite believe it.
“He said he wasn’t surprised but he was also stunned. It’s quite difficult for him to comprehend because I am the only athlete he has had that has been able to compete at this level.
“The relationship Joe and I have is quite strong. He is the coach who found me and he knows how I work, he knows what we have to do now.
“The training will probably get a bit more intensive over the next few weeks. I’m expecting to have to work hard, but I’m prepared for that.
“The goal when we started was to reach the Paralympics and the goal now is to genuinely challenge for a medal.
“We may as well make the most of what we have got. If we are privileged enough to be selected we may as well go and do our best, and I think the best we can do is challenge for a medal.”
Can he really get on the podium after such a short time as a sprinter? “If I set my mind to it I believe I can do it. That’s the philosophy I have always had,” said Sam.
“You set one goal and then set another goal. I have made the team and now I have got to impress. I have got a lot of pressure on myself to do well. It’s well within my reach to medal at these Games.”
Sam believes the competition with Howe, whom he has met and has a lot of respect for, will bring out the best in him.
He said: “Jordan is running quicker than I am at the moment but I know that training in Portugal I have got someone to chase, a marker I know I can reach.
“As he gets better, I will get better. When it comes to being on the start line for the 100 and 200 metres, we will be racing each other.
“With that in mind, I think we will both be in medal contention.”