Virus Could End Paralympic Dream For British Badminton Player

LONDON: victim of multiple sclerosis Mary Wilson fear the coronavirus the pandemic could have stolen his dream of playing badminton at the Paralympic Games

Wilson, who hoped to qualify for Tokyo 2020, says if he arrives in Japan next year it will be the most important thing, but he acknowledges that time may not be on his side.

Scot, 56, has faced, and overcome, some surprising challenges since he was diagnosed with MS, a chronic neurological condition, in 2004.

He survived an attack during a period of military service in Afghanistan, an ugly incident that involved a Ugandan police officer, and has climbed each of the Munros, Scotland's 282 mountains over 3,000 feet (914 meters) high.

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But Wilson Paralympic hopes are on hold after Olympics and Paralympic s organisers bowed to the inevitable at the end of March, delaying both events until next year and meaning badminton could not make its Paralympic debut in 2020.

Wilson agreed with the decision, but admits it is a huge blow to her personally, since she has secondary progressive MS.

It will definitely affect my chances with an extra year, Wilson told AFP by phone from the Edinburgh home he shares with his partner Judi and their German Shepherd dog Max.

A year is a long time trying to train hard. I feel like my body is receding. (MS) is affecting it.

Truthfully, I think it should have been canceled sooner, he said. It took a while (the official announcement was made on March 24). People in other countries were dying.

Wilson was in Spain for a competition when that country went into lockdown due to COVID-19.

I went out for a walk and a police car passed and stopped, he said.

The police threatened to handcuff me and take me to the station, since I should not have gone for a walk, although I did not know that this was the case.

They followed me back to the hotel to make sure I was there.

Wilson managed to find a seat on a flight back to Scotland and is now following a radically adapted training regimen at home.

I set up a program each day, strength and conditioning from press-ups to sit-ups, lunges, calf raises, said the athlete, who has to take extra care during the coronavirus lockdown due to her condition.

The kitchen is my gym. I do push-ups of the kitchen surface but wear oven mitts as the surfaces are very sharp.

Wilson said para- badminton It was an expensive sport (competitors need adapted equipment and transportation) and many of its rivals struggle to finance themselves.

She estimates that she has spent £ 50,000 ($ 62,000) since she started competing internationally in 2017.

In addition to some funds from the charity Path To Success, he has had to draw on his army pension and the legacy his late father left him.

She is fortunate to be contemplating appearing in Tokyo after an Afghan trucker attempted to run her over at Camp Bastion, the former British Army air base in Helmand province, in 2008.

The psychiatric nurse, who served with Queen Alexandra The Royal Army Nursing Corps had to leave their store one night.

There were no lights in case we were killed, he said.

I heard this vehicle behind me. I had a dim light on and was driving faster and faster and tried to run me over. I managed to dive off the road.

Wilson woke up after an operation to find a neighboring bed occupied by an injured Taliban fighter.

We looked at each other in shock, he said. I said to myself 'I must not show my emotions'.

The former staff sergeant said her military training served her well when in 2018, on her way to Kampala airport after a tournament, a Ugandan police officer forced her to get off the hotel bus at gunpoint.

He had a taxi driver take them to a secluded spot and demanded $ 1,000, or else a trip to a police station.

My military training started there, he said. It was very calm, I did not scream or scream.

I made an agreement with him, gave him some money and managed, without his knowing it, to take a picture of him.

When I returned home I notified the authorities and he was arrested and jailed. At least he got what he deserved.

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