AN inspirational Winchcombe teaching assistant will be flying the flag for Team GB when she competes in the Paralympics.
Mel Nicholls and her wheelchair Dolly will be going for gold when she takes part in the T34 category in the 100m and 200m sprints tomorrow and next Thursday.
The 33-year-old, who works at Winchcombe Abbey School with the year four class, has only been racing competitively for two years.
She was an able-bodied and gifted sportswoman when she suffered two strokes in her 20s, before a third stroke when she was 30 saw her lose the use of her left leg and some of her left arm. She also suffered co-ordination problems and needed heart surgery.
But she refused to let her bad experiences get the better of her and in 2009, after success competing in para equestrianism, she tried wheelchair racing and never looked back.
Janet Dowling, a friend and teaching colleague at the school, is making the journey to London to cheer her on.
She said: “I’m so pleased for her and I’m so proud that she didn’t give up. I’ll be crying when I’m watching the race wherever she comes.”
Mel will have the whole school behind her when she competes and has taken with her a book of quotes, poems and best wishes made by the children.
They have had T-shirts made and will be wearing orange and pink, the colours of her racing chair, when they watch her at school in her 200m race next week.
Since she has been working at the school she has organised sports events during her lunchtimes and has been an inspiration to the children.
“Because of all the things she’s overcome, she’s a very good role model for the children,”
added Mrs Dowling.
“It’s very exciting.”