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Blind swimming legend inspires schoolchildren
BRITAIN’S best-ever Paralympic swimmer proved he’s a deep thinker as well as a record breaker when shared his inspiring success story with south Essex youngsters.
Blind swimming champ Chris Holmes had pupils enthralled by his his inspiring life story.
The multi-gold winning medallist dropped into Buttsbury Primary School, in Billericay, then Heycroft Primary School, in Leigh, as part of a tour of UK schools ahead of the London 2012 Paralympics.
Chris, who won 15 medals between 1988 and 2000, is now director for Paralympic integration for the 2012 Games. Along with his black labrador guide dog, Lotte, the retired athlete, who is now a qualified lawyer, showed off his stash of medals to children.
Chris, 40, from Worcestershire, said: “The children were wonderful. They asked questions adults want to ask but don’t, like how do you know when to turn around in the pool and how do you stop yourself from smashing into the side?
“I talked to them about how we can make this the best-ever Paralympics. I also passed around my medals. The childrens’ faces lit up when they realised they were touching a real Olympic medal.”
Chris – who is good friends with Billericay born Olympic swimming ace Mark Foster – was a talented swimmer at county level, but woke up one morning, when he was just 14-years-old, to find he had lost his eyesight, because of a rare genetic disorder, called Familial Executive Vitreoretinopathy.
He refused to let it get the better of him and went to his first Paralympic Games, in Seoul, aged 16, where he won two silver medals.
Chris, who broke 35 world records and was awarded an MBE for services to British sport in 1992, told pupils how during the run-up to previous Games, he would train six days a week, swimming up to 14,000 metres a day.