As part of my blog I (MM) believe it’s important to share experiences from more experienced athletes, I’d like to introduce you to Hunter (HW) who was born with a congenital defect called fibular hemimelia in which his fibulas in his lower legs never formed, leading to the amputation of his legs below the knee at 11 months old. Despite Doctors telling parents he’d never be able to walk on two legs. He and his family didn’t listen to this and he’s gone on to be one of the world’s best paralympic athletes.
After an impressive international debut at the 2015 World Championships, Hunter underlined his credentials winning two medals at his first Paralympics in Rio.
Under the guidance of Brazilian coach Joaquim Cruz, Hunter won 400m T44 (49.05) silver and 200m T44 (22.09) bronze at the 2015 World Championships.
A year later he went to Rio and won 200m T44 silver (21.12) and 400m T44 (46.70) bronze.
MM: Despite your disability, how did you develop your belief which resulted in you becoming a Paralympian?
HW: I was always raised playing sports and even though I wasn’t very athletic I was extremely competitive! As a I got a little older and more athletic the dream of competing on the highest stage became more of a reality.
MM: As an athlete what traits do you and your fellow Olympians and Paralympian’s have which make you successful, that non professional athletes can implement?
HW: Focus, whether it’s on or off the track you have to give 100% attention to what your doing. Especially in workouts, diet, and rest, you need to treat your body right if you want it to preform at the highest level!
MM: Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to anyone that wants to get into high level athletics?
HW: It takes a lot of work to compete at the highest level. It is very important to treat your body the right way. Then make sure you put in the work, it’s not easy but keep a good attitude even when it gets tough.
MM: When you meet a challenge, what’s your thought process for overcoming it?
HW: First I have a great support system behind me to help when times get tough. Then I trust in my training and the work I put in to get to where I am. I also look at my past experiences and look to see how I’ve overcome other challenges.
MM: Going into World Championships, and Paralympics how do you deal with pre race nerves?
HW: Pre race I’m always listening to calming music (reggae is my favorite) it helps to calm my nerves. Also doing the same thing every race helps to keep me in a comfortable state, same warm up and pre race rituals so my body knows it’s time to race. The next thing is trusting in my training, I know that I’ve put in the work, so there is no reason to be nervous.
MM: Can you tell me about your favourite Paralympic experiences?
HW: By far my favorite experience is celebrating my first Paralympic medal with my coach and my family, it meant so much to share that experience with them.
MM: You have personally motivated and inspired many other runners in similar ways. But in motivating so many people, who motivates you?
HW: My coach motivates me every day, Joaquim Cruz. He was never given success he had to work very hard everyday to find success. He drives me to do my best.
MM: You have a great social media presence, especially on Instagram. If you could accomplish anything via social media what would it be?
HW: I want to share my story and show people that anything is possible. I want others to know that regardless of the situation they were given they can still do amazing things! Also not to listen to the negative things others say about what you can’t do.
MM: What one lesson which you’ve learnt in running, do you apply to your life?
HW: Patience, nothing comes over night, just like running developing your times takes lots of work and a tremendous about of patience. Just like in life success takes time, work, and a lot of patience.