Natasha Coates is an elite disability gymnast and Scope Role Model. When she was 18, she suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction and went into anaphalactic shock. Following this she was diagnosed with the rare condition Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
In this film and blog, Natasha talks to us about competing in disability sport and how the Paralympics is helping to change attitudes towards disability.
I think the Paralympics in 2012 really helped attitudes towards disability. Joe Bloggs down the street might not have had any exposure to disabled people so it made people aware and seeing it on TV and having the athletes interviewed inspired a whole generation of disabled people. It’s definitely helped.
It showed people that being a disabled person doesn’t mean you can’t do sport. Exercise is for everyone, no matter what your age or ability. You can give it a go. You can always adapt things. The Paralympics showed us that.
I’d love gymnastics to be in the Paralympics and to say I was going to Rio but unfortunately it’s unlikely to happen in my career. There’s just not enough of us and there’s not enough international squads. You have to be able to do World Championships first before you can put in a bid for the Paralympics. Hopefully it will get there. I’d love to see it in my lifetime.
I want to pave the way for the next generation. If in 50 years time, gymnasts get the chance to do something I wasn’t able to, that would be amazing.
We’ve published the findings of a new poll which asked disabled people whether the Paralympics can change attitudes to disability and asked what life is like if you’re disabled in 2016. Read more about these findings.
British Gymnastics ensure that gymnastics is a totally inclusive sport and can adapt mainstream gymnastics sessions for disabled people. You can find your local club on the British Gymnastics website.