London, United Kingdom | AFP | Multiple sclerosis sufferer Mary Wilson fears the coronavirus pandemic could have robbed her of her dream to play badminton on the Paralympics.
Wilson, who hoped to qualify for Tokyo 2020, says if she does make it to Japan subsequent yr it can “be the biggest thing ever” however she recognises time is probably not on her aspect.
The 56-year-old Scot has confronted — and overcome — some astonishing challenges since being recognized with MS, a persistent neurological situation, in 2004.
She survived an assault throughout a navy tour of responsibility in Afghanistan, an unpleasant incident involving a Ugandan policeman, and has climbed each one of many Munros, the 282 mountains in Scotland over 3,000 toes (914 metres) excessive.
But Wilson’s Paralympic hopes are on maintain after Olympics and Paralympics organisers bowed to the inevitable on the end of March, delaying each occasions till subsequent yr and which means badminton could not make its Paralympic debut in 2020.
Wilson agreed with the choice however admits it’s a large blow for her personally as she has secondary progressive MS.
“It is definitely going to affect my chances with an extra year,” Wilson informed AFP by cellphone from the Edinburgh residence she shares with associate Judi and their German Shepherd canine Max.
“A year is a long time trying to train hard. I feel my body is going backwards. It (the MS) is affecting it.”
“To tell you the truth I think it should have been called off sooner,” she mentioned. “It dragged on a bit (the official announcement was made on March 24). People in other countries were dying.”
Wilson was in Spain for a contest when that nation went into lockdown resulting from COVID-19.
“I went out walking and a police car went past and stopped,” she mentioned.
“The policeman threatened to handcuff me and take me to the station as I shouldn’t have been out strolling though I used to be unaware that was the case.
“They followed me back to the hotel to make sure I was going there.”
Wilson managed to discover a seat on a flight again to Scotland and is now following a radically tailored coaching regime at residence.
“I set up a programme each day, strength and conditioning from press-ups to sit-ups, lunges, calf raises,” mentioned the athlete, who has to take further care throughout the coronavirus lockdown resulting from her situation.
“The kitchen is my gym. I do press-ups off the kitchen surface but I wear kitchen gloves as the surfaces are really sharp.”
Wilson mentioned para-badminton was an costly sport — opponents want tailored tools and transport — and lots of of her rivals wrestle to fund themselves.
She estimates she has spent £50,000 ($62,000) since she started competing internationally in 2017.
Aside from some funding from the charity Path To Success, she has needed to dip into her Army pension and a legacy left to her by her late father.
– Battle-scarred –
She is lucky to be even considering showing at Tokyo after an Afghan truck driver tried to run her over at Camp Bastion, the previous British Army airbase in Helmand Province, in 2008.
The psychiatric nurse, who served with Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, needed to go away her tent one night.
“There were no lights in case we got mortared,” she mentioned.
“I heard this vehicle behind me. He had a dimmed light on and he was driving faster and faster and tried to run me over. I managed to dive off the road.”
Wilson awakened after an operation to discover a neighbouring mattress was occupied by a wounded Taliban fighter.
“We stared at each other both in shock,” she mentioned. “I said to myself ‘I must not show my emotions’.”
The former employees sergeant mentioned her military coaching served her properly when in 2018, on her strategy to Kampala airport after a event, she was compelled off the lodge bus at gunpoint by a Ugandan policeman.
He had a taxi driver take them to a secluded spot and demanded $1,000 or else a visit to a police station.
“My army training kicked in there,” she mentioned. “I used to be very calm, I didn’t scream or shout.
“I got here to an settlement with him, gave him some cash and managed, unbeknownst to him, to take a photograph of him.
“When I returned home I notified the authorities and he was arrested and jailed. At least he got his comeuppance.”