Sportswoman Rachel Morris shares her achievements and how she’s helping other young people with impairments to enjoy sport
Katrina Lake: “Hi Rachel, it’s lovely to see you again. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Firstly, would you mind sharing your remarkable journey and achievements in hand cycling with us?”
Rachel Morris: “My journey in hand cycling has been a truly exciting one. It started in 2008, winning gold in the road race in handcycling, and then in London 2012. I unfortunately got hit six weeks before I went to the games and suffered some quite significant injuries. But due to the incredible team I built, and had the privilege of being able to build around me, I ended up racing in London and coming away with the bronze, which was in 2012. And then in 2016, I had changed sports after the injury I sustained in the lead up to the 2012 Paralympics and switched to rowing and in Rio 2016, I had an incredible games where I had switched sports, but achieved gold again in another sport.”
Katrina Lake: “That’s amazing. Could you tell us more about the mindset that has been instrumental in your success, both in the realm of hand cycling and in life in general?”
Rachel Morris: “Mindset is absolutely critical. Whether you are achieving an Olympic or Paralympic gold medal, or whether you are trying to play a game of tennis in the park with a friend, the way you approach that will have a significant impact on the end result. Whether it’s for fun or whether it’s for elite performance is when it changes the way that mindset has to be looked at. And the way you form that, looking at it from an Olympic point of view, there is so much that rides on that from your personal performance through to your awareness that a whole team’s worth of jobs are sitting on your result. But the way you look at your end result can ultimately be broken down to being a SMART goal, which a lot of people have heard of, but specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-manageable, or time-framed. Those smart goals have a huge impact if we apply them to those everyday exams that we all go through. Your GCSEs, your A levels etc through to your spelling test when you are in year five. It’s just how we learn what smart means and how we then make those specifics. I.E., SMART become, I guess, realistic to that goal because a hundredth of a second or 10th of a second will be the difference between potentially a gold medal and not in the Paralympics whilst getting eight out of 10 or 20% correct, even in your spelling test doesn’t have so much riding on it. But they have to in the sense that you need to have it. So it’s realistic because for their child to build their confidence, they need to be succeeding, that they are within their, if you like, zone tolerance, their parameters that they can tolerate before with feeling up and down, positive, negative about something because that affects how they approach the next goal and how they build their confidence.
Katrina Lake: “We’d love to help you promote your current projects and raise awareness. Can you tell us about any initiatives or causes you’re working on now?”
Rachel Morris: “I have just formed a CIC, which is similar to a charity, to provide inclusive sport in our area, and if anyone has a child or a young person who would like to be involved, whether that’s being involved as somebody using or needing extra support to enable them to be part of a sport that doesn’t need to be a wheelchair. So we’ve got frame football. We are just setting up a multi-sport club as well, which will include basketball, cricket, lots of different sports, but teaching you how to use your chair if you need one alongside that, or your frame or your crutches, or whether it’s that you need to see things or have information given to you in a different way. Those sports in our area will now be open, hopefully, to everyone, and that’s something that we can then build on with. That’s through some funding from sport and also Active Surrey. So going forwards, it’s called Fit-6, and I’ll explain to you why that is, but we are now looking at developing that. So it ends up with inclusive sports clubs for sports in summer holidays and in holidays for all children.
As at the moment, most children with any form of impairment are not in or able to be included in those sports clubs. The other thing that I’m looking at is also about mental health. So I’m working with young people, whether that’s for exams, whether that is year six in your spelling test or is your A levels or your degree. But working with people for a better mindset to enable them to achieve what they want to by building confidence, by helping them understand their own zones of tolerance and helping them to manage their emotions. So I’m doing that as one-to-ones and groups and really love that part of the next part of my career after being a full-time athlete.”
Katrina Lake: Thank you for sharing your amazing story with us Rachel. Your passion for inspiring young people living with impairments to live happy, healthy lives was one of the things I loved about you when we first met. We wish you all the very best of luck with your new venture. If readers would like to find out more where can they go to look?
Rache Morris: Search for F6it “a place where I belong” on Instagram to find out more.
Photo: Usage rights paid 2023.