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Debbie’s delight as mum wins GB gold
11:30am Thursday 9th August 2012 in Sport
EVESHAM mum Debbie Ashton has overcome a career-threatening injury to help Great Britain win three gold medals at the 10th European Championships.
The 46-year-old from Pebworth was part of the squad that triumphed in the senior ‘A’ standard mixed 2,000- metres and both the senior women’s small boat 500m and 200m at the national watersports centre in Nottingham.
Her achievement comes just 12 months after taking up a sport she was introduced to by a friend at Worcester Dragon Boat Club.
But, competing in such an event appeared impossible in 2003 when Ashton shattered her left shoulder in a motorcycle accident.
She was forced to retire from her job as a police firearms officer and was told by doctors that her shoulder was beyond repair.
However, she refused to be beaten and, following some research, underwent a successful reconstruction by renowned surgeon Stephen Copeland, who has operated on five-time Olympic gold medal rower Sir Steve Redgrave and former England rugby star Jeremy Guscott.
”It’s been an amazing journey, with some truly inspirational people,” said Ashton, who is now working towards the world championships in Hungary next July. “Having retired from the police service in 2003 and smashing my left shoulder in a motorcycle accident, I didn’t think I would ever achieve my dream of wearing a British shirt for any sport.
“Dragonboating was the only sport I could do that didn’t impair my physio and it helped me get back into sport.”
She added: “I need to say thank you to my surgeon Stephen Copeland, all my physios, my fellow training and team members and all my friends and family for believing in me.
“I would say to people to never give up because you never know what’s round the next corner.”
Mother to six-year-old twins Alexandra and Oliver, Ashton currently trains alone but has links with Pershore Pheonix Dragonboat Club and has also trained with Worcester Busters and Worcester Dragons.
Two Pershore competitors also won medals at the championships.
Head coach Dave Cole and secretary Jonathan Small, from the Pershore Pheonix club, both won gold in the senior mixed 2,000-metres.
Club captain Andrew Forrest was part of the quickest senior men’s 200m small boat but no medals were awarded due to a lack of teams in the event.
The trio were part of a Great Britain contingent that won the overall team award for the first time since 2000.
“Dave and Jonathan were awesome and rightly did the club proud by collecting gold medals,” Forrest said.
“Thank you to those who travelled to Nottingham to watch Dave, Jonathan and myself fulfil our personal goals.”