BEN Shewbridge is the inspirational young man who has defied the odds and put himself on the cusp of glory.

The youngster, from Bovington, has been paraplegic since he was a baby, due to a tumour on his spine.

This means he has no movement below his arms and was told by a health professional that he would never be able to swim unaided.

But fast-forward 10 years to December 10, 2016, and you’d see Ben being awarded a gold and silver medal in the 50m backstroke and 50m freestyle respectively at the National Para Swimming Championships in Manchester.

What a way to silence your doubters.

After a regular Friday night training session with West Dorset swimming Club, the gold medalist sat by the pool with his dad, Matt and his coach Chris Fry and confidently announced “my dream is to be in the Paralympics.” A dream which may now be in sight for the youngster.

Shewbridge has always been a fan of the water ever since his parents, Matt and Sam, used to take him swimming from a very young age.

He joined West Dorset Swimming Club in 2015 with nothing more than basic swimming skills, but soon developed under the guidance of Fry, who saw the potential in him.

After his achievements in Manchester, and his resilience and determination to succeed, Shewbridge has also qualified for the National Development Programme at foundation level, which gives him the opportunity to progress to the world class programme.

More hard work and dedication faces him in the coming months, with a specific training programme designed by Dave White from the National Development Programme, the Para Swimming Pathway Officer, which he will work on with his coaches Fry and Colin Cracknell.

Speaking of Shewbridge’s potential, White said: “He is an exciting prospect and he will be on or above the pathway to the Paralympics in the future if he keeps progressing.

“We are so proud of Ben and his achievements and wish him every success.”

It’s safe to say that the dream of competing in the Paralympics, which Ben confided in his father and coach that Friday night, might not be too far away.


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