A British judo athlete has won a silver medal at the Special Olympics, defying childhood predictions that he may never walk unaided, thanks to the Capital’s Royal Blind School.
Harrison Lovett, 20, took second place in the male division 11 category in Abu Dhabi, gaining his first World Games medal on his debut appearance.
But it took defiance of professional medical opinion to make that dream come true, a dream that Lovett hopes will be chased by others too in the wake of his success.
Lovett had a stroke while in the womb and is registered blind. He suffered from periventricular leukomalacia, and has had to contend with hypermobility, Joubert syndrome and cerebral palsy.
Wheelchair-bound for years, he was told by his doctor when he was three that “I basically wasn’t going to be able to walk, talk or sit up”.
Just a year later the future World Games medallist was confounding expectations, however, silencing the doctor by standing up and telling him “Look!”
But that determined attitude did not make the task at hand straightforward, with Lovett saying he faced “loads of different challenges”.
“Basically I wasn’t involved in school half the time, and I had to fight to get into sport.”
In 2010 he found his calling during a taster judo class at the Royal Blind School, immediately taking to the sport.
Coach Jonny Imrie said: “To write people like Harrison off from competing in sport is outrageous at such an early age. If a story like Harrison’s doesn’t change people’s opinions of what can be achieved with some patience, planning and pure determination, I’d be surprised.
“I just hope Harrison can get out and about in the community and tell people his story.”