Jubilant Blind World Ski Champ Returns to Belfast
The newly crowned World Disabled Water Ski Champion Janet Gray MBE arrived home in Belfast today after winning the World Disabled Water Ski Championships for an amazing fourth time.
The blind athlete who is funded by Sport Northern Ireland marked her comeback to the sport in magnificent style at the 2007 World Disabled Water Ski Championships held in Townsville, Northern Queensland, Australia, by winning gold in all three disciplines of ‘slalom’, ‘tricks’ and ‘jump’ and equalling her world record in the ‘tricks’ discipline. In addition Janet’s individual performance was pivotal in helping the British ski team win gold in the team section of the event.
The performance is particularly remarkable considering that Janet only returned to the sport in July past, after a two and half year absence from the sport following a horrific training accident in Florida in which she sustained life threatening injuries. Despite the accident Janet was determined to ski again and her victory in Australia is the outcome of a two year long rehabilitation process overseen by a team of specialists at the Sports Institute for Northern Ireland at Jordanstown.
Her victory at the World Championships was unexpected as Kevin O’Neill of Disability Sports NI explained: “Janet is a remarkably talented athlete who up until the time of her accident had totally dominated her sport. Although Janet sustained terrible injuries in her accident, knowing how determined she is, I was confident that Janet could compete in the Worlds again, but I don’t think anyone including Janet herself believed that she would perform to such a high standard and come home with a world title in all three disciplines. I’m simply delighted about her performance.”
Commenting on Janet’s performance Professor Eric Saunders OBE, Chairman of Sport Northern Ireland said: “This is a tremendous achievement from one of Northern Ireland’s leading sports women and on behalf of Sport Northern Ireland we congratulate Janet. Janet has now become a role model inspiring and motivating many, both within her sport of Water Skiing and the wider sports community.”