Toni Shaw (16), Reach member and para swimming champion tells us her story.
Mum, Shona, starts Toni’s story – Toni was born without her right hand, she is my youngest daughter. I found out about her right hand at my 20-week scan, it was a shock as both hands were present at the first scan. It was a shock initially but as I work with children with disabilities, I knew we would be fine. Toni is a great teenager and we are all very proud of her achievements.
Toni Swims for an able-bodied club but her coach Gregor has an inclusivity policy, so she is treated the same way as the able-bodied athletes.
If a new parent was to ask for advice, I would say don’t treat your child differently, give help when they need it, but in Toni’s case there is very little she can’t do for herself.
Toni picks up the story – I was born without my right hand. I had a prosthesis at an early age but rarely used it. I now have a specially made one which I use in the gym. I have never really struggled with only having one hand. My family, friends and school have been very supportive. I have been bought up to think I can do whatever I set my mind to.
From an early age I always wanted to be a successful para-swimmer, my childhood instructor at a local team suggested I try out for a club. I went from swimming with the Cults Otters to swimming for the University of Aberdeen and then on to represent Scotland GB team.
Currently I am a 5th year pupil at Alban School studying for my Highers. But my passion is still swimming, my successes to date include 2 Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze Medals at European Championships, Dublin 2018 and the same medals won at the World Para Championships, London 2019.
My ambition is to represent Great Britain at the Paralympics in Tokyo 2020. The trials are in April and the team will be picked following these.
My advice to other Reach children is don’t let your impairment stand in your way, you can achieve your goals if you try hard.
I am ‘Learn to Swim Ambassador’ and never thought I would swim for Scotland and Great Britain – ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!