Olympic medalist hopes to leave sporting legacy for children – South London News
By Edmund Brack
Two-time Tokyo 2020 Paralympics medalist Oliver Lam-Watson wants to leave a legacy that will last long after his sports career ends by providing opportunities for children with disabilities he never had.
Although Oliver’s road to winning silver in men’s team football and bronze in the men’s epee was not an easy one, athletic life is first in his life, alongside the foundation he wants to create for the next generation of Paralympians.
The 28-year-old, who went to school in Dulwich and grew up in Putney, wants to inspire the next generation of wheelchair fencers by giving them the edge he never got as a teenager.
After a morning class teaching kids wheelchair fencing with foam swords at Highshore School on Farmers Road, Camberwell, Oliver said, “It’s so cool for me to be here. This is just as important to me as the Paralympics, World Cups and competitions; that’s why i do it.
“I’m not an athlete because I want to be number one in the world, I do it because I want to show people what is possible with a disability and the younger version of myself who never had the opportunity to give something back.”
Although he didn’t get into the sport until he was 23, Oliver’s short path from dropping out of architecture studies to winning two medals at the Paralympics this summer is remarkable.
“It was wonderful. I didn’t even think I would qualify,” he said.
“I remember when I started wheelchair fencing, I told everyone I would qualify and everyone said to me, ‘It’s three years left. You don’t just qualify for Paralympics. ‘
“I noticed that after a year and then I am very still, still, because I felt like an idiot.
“Then, three and a half years later, I qualified, went to Tokyo and won two medals. It really is proof that you are not ashamed of dreaming big, so big that it scares you and scares everyone else.
“I want to dream so big that people tell me I’m an idiot, so big that I feel stupid to say it out loud.
“It was a really great lesson for me that hard work can pay off when I push really hard, and while hard work is not always guaranteed to pay off, and when it does it is truly amazing.”
Born with Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome, a condition that prevented him from carrying weight or straightening his left leg, Oliver felt that participating in sports as a teenager made his difference.
“Sport is really crazy. It’s something I really hated as a kid, ”he said.
“That really highlighted my difference and made me feel a lot less than the others. But lately it has really become a way of regaining control of my body and redefining what is possible in life with a disability.
The ParalympicsGB wheelchair fencer, who attended Highshore School with London Sport as part of Active London’s largest annual conference, added: Society has often told them what they couldn’t do, I think it’s so important to get that funding receive.
“One of my friends who was on my team and is currently number one in the world was actually offered wheelchair fencing in school and I often think, ‘How many world champions could we have if we started offering parasports in schools? from a young age? ‘
“We have some foam swords here today that are only a few pounds and these guys are having absolute fun and I’m having a great time. It makes their mornings. You are active, stimulated and thinking. That’s what school is about. “
Pictured above: Oliver Lam-Watson with children at Camberwell Highshore School