My name is Fin and I am 18 years old. I live in the Highlands of Scotland – 23 miles north of Inverness, so about 600miles away from London.
I was born with 2 club feet otherwise known as congenital bilateral equinovarus talipes.
I have been invited to your open day at Chelsea training grounds on Saturday the 26th May so I thought I would tell you a bit about my experience having club feet before I meet you. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to come to Chelsea training ground (even though I support Manchester United) because I love football almost as much as I love cycling!
I guess my earliest memories were when I was in primary school. I was constantly getting asked what that thing on my leg was (my splint). I would respond by saying it straightens my twisty leg. It would then all be fine but there was one boy who felt he needed to tease me about it. I would never get upset about it and always took it well as it didn’t change the way I did anything and most importantly didn’t prevent me from doing anything. Yeah sometimes it was frustrating when sports day came around as pretty sure I finished last in every race, but I loved being a part of it! Also, I am a massive fan of football and loved playing it at school.
Then I moved into secondary school and I wore tracksuit bottoms for the first little while before then wearing shorts again as I wasn’t sure how people would react. The process started over again as everybody was asking what that thing on my leg was and again everyone just got on with it.
How did I get into cycling? – I have always been involved with it as my parents ride as well so I would always be taken along to the trails with them. As I got older I was then able to start riding with them and I then started doing local mountain bike races. My biggest achievement on my mountain bike was racing in the Strathpuffer, aged 16, which is a 24 hour Mountain Bike race in the middle of winter in the Scottish highlands. I decided to race it by myself (you can do it as a solo or in teams of 2/3/4) and rode for the whole 24 hours finishing 12th in the solo category out of over 100 other riders all of them being older than me. With the condition (club feet) it means that I do have problems with cold feet as I have got bad circulation so decided to wrap my feet in cling film which did the trick!
I left school aged 17 and a half and went to stay on a farm in Virginia, USA, with family friends for 9 weeks in the summer. That was amazing! I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life (I didn’t like school!) so when I came back I got a job in an Outdoor Shop.
I wasn’t until the end of that year- 2016 – that I started contemplating the idea of competing in Para-Cycling as I had never thought of it as a “disability” but I went along to a British Cycling talent day where I was tested along with other riders to see if I had what it takes. Turns out I did and consequently had to switch disciplines, because mountain biking is not a Paralympic sport. It was strange because I had raced it my whole life and then suddenly had to take up road and track cycling which I had done none of! But I took to it well and have been training hard. I work part-time at Tesco and the rest of the time cycle, train and race.
My biggest achievement to date?? Probably would be when I won the British Para National Championships in 2017 but also finished 8th at the most recent round of the world cup in Belgium.
It has been fun meeting lots of other para-cyclists with some form of disability whether it’s one leg, one arm, cerebral palsy, blind or other problems. We have a lot of laughs!
Hopes for the future? Being taken on to the GB programme full time and to race at the next Paralympics in 2020!
If you are near Ilford 9th and 10th June I am racing again for the National Jersey – come and cheer me on!
Meanwhile if you want to follow what I am up to use any of the links below .
And finally, as Bob Marley said “Don’t worry…be happy!”