Help West Cumbrian athlete's drive for gold medal glory
Last updated at 12:16, Friday, 05 October 2012
A call has gone out for West Cumbria to help one of the county’s top athletes achieve her sporting dream.
Bethan Lishman, of High Brigham, is number five in the world at hammer throwing among deaf athletes but fears she may have to give up the sport because of a lack of cash.
Despite being a contender for a gold medal at next year’s Deaflympics, she receives no support from sporting bodies and has to raise £3,200 so she can compete.
Deaf athletes do not get the same financial support as competitors in the Olympics and Paralympics – and funding for the British squad has been slashed due to the Paralympics.
The Deaflympics will be held in Bulgaria from July 26 to August 4.
Bethan, 28, who works at Workington Leisure Centre, said: “I am getting to the point now where I am going to have to give up because I cannot afford it. I feel like I am begging and I don’t feel like I should have to.
“I get really frustrated because I am at the top of my game in my sport, to then be told I have to pay for it all myself – have I not paid enough now?”
She is ranked second in Britain and is county champion.
Senior West Cumbrian politicians are now backing her cause. Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham said he was appalled that one of the area’s best athletes was struggling.
He said: “I have written to the sports minister to alert him of Bethan’s plight.
“It’s an extraordinary situation to be in, especially in the year of London 2012 and talk of the Olympic legacy.
“It makes a mockery of that. Deaf athletes – who cannot even compete in the Paralympics – are being treated like second class citizens. I will do everything in my power to help her get to the Deaflympics.
“We should be proud of Bethan and help her achieve her dreams.”
Alan Smith, leader of Allerdale council, said: “In the light of the success of both the Olympics and Paralympics held in London, and the financial gains made from these events, it seems unfair to ask deaf athletes to have to fund their version of the Olympics.
“Given Allerdale council’s commitment to sporting opportunities, I am writing to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to raise awareness of this issue and to ask that, when considering the legacy for the Olympics and the Paralympics, a way is found for deaf athletes to participate in sports at all levels.”
Bethan was tipped for the silver medal at the last Deaflympics in Taipei in 2009 but finished fifth after rupturing her rotator cuff.
She said she has sent out hundreds of letters to businesses and organisations to request sponsorship, but has not had any positive responses so far.
She only managed to register for the Deaflympics because a stranger donated the £600 deposit she needed.
She said: “Instead of training the hardest I can I am spending time sending letters out and getting in touch with companies and raising awareness.
“I don’t class my hearing impediment as a disability, I haven’t been disabled by it because I haven’t allowed it to.
“But then to be excluded when it is supposed to be all about integration is horrible.
“It would have been a dream come true for me to compete at the Paralympics.
“Deaf athletes need all the support we can get or we are not going to be able to do it anymore.
“It is heart-breaking and I have sleepless nights just thinking about what I can do to get the money.”
To sponsor Bethan, call her on 07734802214.
First published at 11:51, Friday, 05 October 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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