AN INSPIRATIONAL young woman has spoken out about how she dealt with being diagnosed with a disability as a teenager - and how her focus on sport transformed her life.

Freya Levy, 23, who has muscle weakness and wasting condition - facioscapulohumeral muscular dustrophy (FSHD) - has now competed for Great Britain in many sports.

To mark FSHD global awareness week she is speaking out in hope of inspiring more disabled people to change their lives and get involved in sport.

Freya of Dapple Close, Rochford, recalls her struggles as a youngster - and being diagnosed aged 14.

She said: “I remember asking the doctor if there was a cure, he said ‘no’; I asked if it would ever get better, he said ‘no’.

“I asked if he knew how bad it would get, he said ‘no’.

“So I just stopped going back to the hospital - I’d already wasted my summer holidays sat in hospital waiting rooms and getting various tests, scans, being poked and prodded; I knew there was nothing they could do to slow it down, so I just decided to stop going and to just ‘crack on with it’ and carry on being a teenager as best I could.

“At school I had to get used to being ‘Freya? Oh the one in the wheelchair,’ but at basketball I was just Freya.

“I learnt so much from the other players about living with a disability and how to get around and just deal with life really, it had such a positive impact being surrounded by people just like me, pretty much from day one.”

Freya’s family say she is a total inspiration.

And Freya proudly added: “After becoming disabled, finding disability sport helped me get through what was obviously an incredibly difficult time.

“Now I’ve competed for Great Britain in wheelchair basketball, para-ice hockey and for England in wheelchair rugby 7s, and internationally medalled in all three. I’ve been skiing, para-sailing, jet skiing, horse riding, rock-climbing, zip lining, skydived and just achieved things I never thought was possible. Sport has always been a huge part of mine, and my family’s life.”

Krishan Solanki, head of events at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “Sport can help people with not only their physical well-being, but also their mental well-being through forming friendships and enhancing social life. We are committed to supporting sporting activity and have a five-year sponsorship powerchair football deal with the wheelchair football association. It is one of the fastest growing disability sports in the UK and we’re proud to support the national leagues which provides a pathway for disabled people to enjoy the sport at a competitive level.” Muscular Dystrophy UK is a charity which brings individuals, families, and professionals to beat muscle-wasting conditions.