Chicken Soup For the Sole: Tanni Grey-Thompson

There’s no reason that having a physical difference should ever slow you down. It certainly didn’t slow down Tanni Grey-Thompson, who is an 11-time gold medal-winning Paralympic wheelchair racer. Despite being born with spina bifida, a condition where the spinal cord isn’t completely contained within the backbone, which can cause a variety of physical problems. Despite this condition, Tanni Grey-Thompson became one of the most celebrated Paralympic athletes of all time!

Birth and Early Years

Born Carys Grey in Cardiff, she earned her nickname of “Tanni” when her older sister commented on her small size with her Welsh accent. After graduating from Loughborough University with a degree in Politics and Social Administration, she began her Olympic wheelchair racing career with a bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul games. From there, she would become one of the most dominant paralympic athletes of all time: her final medal count was 11 golds, 4 silvers, and a bronze, giving her a total of 16 Olympic medals. After participating in the 2006 World Championships, she called it a career. However, a couple of new careers beckoned.

Sportscaster and…Politician?

Back in 1993, while she was still competing in wheelchair racing, Grey-Thompson began exploring other career avenues. First, she began a career in sports broadcasting on the networks BBC Wales, S4C, and BBC One. However, it didn’t take long for her to set her sights higher. In 2010, she was introduced into the British House of Lords, which launched her British parliamentary career. She still serves in this position, as well as serving as Chancellor of Northumbria University.

Since her racing career began in 1988, she has received dozens of honorary degrees and awards. Tanni Grey-Thompson has proven to be an inspiration on a number of levels and is without a doubt one of the most influential disabled athletes ever.

My name is Jessica Cox, and I gain my inspiration from people who rise above physical challenges and refuse to let negativity prevent them from changing their lives in positive ways. If you’d like me to come to inspire the attendees at your convention, school, or religious gathering with my story, please contact me.