Posted: Tue, 26 Mar 2019 10:00
Hi, my name is Christopher Elliott Reid. I'm 21-years-old, I live in Waltham Forest in London and I am track athlete. I was born with XYY syndrome, which is a genetic condition. When I was younger it meant that I couldn't walk or talk like some of the other children at school, but I developed these skills later. XYY also means I have a learning disability. I also live with a mental health condition called bipolar, which I take medication for.
I regularly compete as an athlete in track events. I compete in the T20 category which is for people with a learning disability. I've taken part in the Mencap National Championships, the Newham Parallel Success games, and lots more. I take part in mainstream events as well - I was at the London Indoor Games in January 2019. I take part in mainstream events because I want to compete as often as possible and I find there's not enough T20 events for me to take part in. I do wish there was more so I could keep improving on my times.
I specialise in 400m and 800m races and I am a member of Newham and Essex Beagles. They're an amateur athletics club and they've been very welcoming to me. I'm the only T20 athlete in the middle distance group, but a coach called Victor Nutakor gives me some extra time one-to-one. He helps me with my technique and supports me to get to events. He's even been on coaching training sessions that went through how to support and engage with disabled people better. It's amazing because he goes the extra mile for me.
My running started after seeing Mo Farah at the 2012 London Olympics. Knowing how hard he had to work to achieve Olympic gold was really inspiring for me. I wanted to achieve the things that Mo had. In the Paralympics, there isn't a long distance event so that's why I do middle distance. I started out by taking part in Parkrun in 2013. My first time I went off so fast that I couldn't even finish it! The adrenaline took over and I didn't go at the right pace at all! That's when I decided to find out about local running clubs in my area. I joined Eton Manor Athletics Club based in Walthamstow, and that's where I learned all the basic techniques on how to run properly.
I love the training - it gives me a reason to get up in the morning, and sometimes that can be early! I start training at around 7:30am. Having a routine helps take my stress levels down. Since I've taken up running, I've found that my bipolar has been much better. I don't feel like I get as low as I used to. When I run, I clear all the thoughts out of my head. All I concentrate on is the run and what I want to achieve, and improving my technique.
Taking part in competitions is also fun. I try to get to as many local and national competitions as I can, and I love meeting new people there. I like hearing about their stories and how they first got involved in athletics and what they enjoy about it. In a race, it's the best feeling in the world when I smash a personal best. My PB right now for 800m is 2 minutes 21 seconds, but I'm aiming to get that down to under 2.20 this season.
I've also used running to fundraise for charities close to my heart, like Unique. They're a learning disability charity that tries to understand chromosome disorders. I've also rasied money for The Feast, they're a Christian youth charity. I've done sponsored 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and marathons, to raise more than £6,000 over the past four years. It makes me feel like I'm helping to make a real difference to people's lives.
I've made some really good friends through running, and the support my coach, Victor, has given me has been massive. He has helped me improve my running a lot, but he has been really supportive in different ways. He sometimes helps me with my maths if I'm struggling to work out distances on the track for training. At times when I've been ill, he's visited me in hospital and helped me through. That was really special, I'm really thankful for the support that he has given me on my journey through athletics and in life. A good coach makes all the difference.
My ambition is to be selected for Team GB and become a Paralympic athlete in the T20 classification. I want to compete against the best T20 athletes in the world. I need to get my times down and work hard to get there though. I also want to move up to 1500m because it gives me more options for elite competitions.
I would recommend running as a great sport for anyone to try. It doesn't cost you anything. You can run anywhere, and you don't have to buy any expensive equipment when you start out. I started out running in a pair of old trainers! It gets you out in the fresh air and clears your mind.
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(Source & Image: Activity Alliance)