Paralympic hopeful helps Darlington residents out of the starting blocks


After narrowly missing out by the slimmest of margins for a place at this year’s World Para Athletic Championships to be held in London, a competitive wheelchair racer has taken time out of her hectic training regime to give Hanover Housing Association residents in Darlington an exercise master class.

Born with cerebral palsy, Robyn Lambird has faced her fair share of challenges, but thanks to the support of friends and family she has turned what may be seen as a disadvantage into an opportunity to motivate others. That commitment is something the 20-year-old hopes will help get her a seat on the plane to compete in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, especially as just 0.40 of a second separated her from being a competitor instead of a spectator at the World Championships this month.


During the master class at Mayflower Court, which was attended by Hanover’s Chair, Dr Stuart Burgess, the athlete proved that age and ability shouldn’t be barriers to staying fit and healthy. As well as the exercise class, Robyn treated the residents to a demonstration of wheelchair sprint techniques and stunts she uses to improve her speed, strength and agility.


Speaking to the residents, Robyn recounted her life story which saw her immigrate to Australia at the age of ten before taking on a fitness regime that has allowed her to rise to 9th in the world in Para-Athletics where she competes in the T34 classification and top of the Australian rankings.


When she is off the track, Robyn – who is a disability advocate, blogger and model – represents Western Australia in wheelchair rugby, a sport also known as “Murderball” because of the intensity and hard hitting action that goes in during a match. A showpiece event, it’s a combination of wheelchair basketball, ice hockey, handball and rugby union.


Among the residents who attended the session, 55–year-old Michael Haslock said: “It is truly fantastic to be inspired by someone so young. When I first came here I was in a similar position after a stroke. For some time, I couldn’t speak and needed to rely on my wheelchair to get around.


“However after receiving some fantastic care and support from the Mayflower Court housing and care team, and a strict rehabilitation programme, I haven’t used a wheel chair for some time.”


Dr Stuart Burgess said: “I enjoyed meeting Robyn and seeing the way residents were invigorated by for someone so young – she is a great inspiration to us all. I’m sure she’s destined for great things.”


Robyn said:  “It was really good to visit Mayflower Court after so many years and I have received such a warm welcome.  It was great to see the way the residents participated so enthusiastically to the exercise class.  I know that they are determined to progress with this and are actively working to get a group up and running.  I am committed to visiting Mayflower Court on a regular basis until I return to Australia at the end of August.


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