A Chippenham sports clinic is working with local multiple-medal winning Paralympic swimmer Stephanie Millward as she attempts to gain selection for her fourth Paralympic Games in Japan next year.
With a history of helping local elite athletes, including members of the record breaking British Skeleton team and England Women’s rugby player Sydney Gregson, Active Potential Therapy began giving regular sports massage treatments to Stephanie last year.
Stephanie is receiving weekly treatments ahead of her qualifying dates at the British Trials in Glasgow next week.
Swimming in the 400m Freestyle S9 category, this selection race will determine participation in July’s World Championships which in turn will lead towards representing Team GB at Tokyo 2020.
Samantha Bramley, owner of Active Potential Therapy said: “We’re so excited to be supporting Stephanie in her efforts to represent Great Britain again at Tokyo 2020.
"Watching sport at a high level is so fundamental in joining communities together. We can all recall memories of shouting encouragement from our sofas during previous Olympics and Paralympics and I am so proud that Active Potential Therapy is supporting another of our local athletes competing on the World Stage.”
Aged 16, Stephanie was British National 100m Backstroke Champion and just 18 months away from the Sydney 2000 Olympics, when she started to suffer with symptoms including temporary paralysis, blindness, difficulty balancing and even walking.
It took six months for the specialists to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis. Thereafter, Stephanie continued to endure these symptoms, battling chronic pain and depression, even to the point of avoiding swimming pools for 10 years. Her love of swimming returned when she taught a friend to swim.
Within months, Stephanie credibly competed in Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, and four years later went on to win five medals at London 2012 and a further five, including two coveted golds, at Rio 2016.
Now in the unfamiliar position of being an un-funded athlete, she relies on local support and is grateful for the weekly Active Potential Therapy massages saying: “With the level of training I am doing, whilst still battling with my MS, the soft tissue treatments I receive have allowed me to make unbelievable progress both in the pool and in the gym.
"I couldn’t be happier approaching the British Trials and I can’t thank Sam and her amazing team enough for aiding my fitness, recovery and ability to train every day”.
Away from training and doing her part-time book-keeping job, Stephanie is patron for two charities (Just4Children and MS Society), ambassador for a further six charities, she speaks at school assemblies, has presented to the House of Lords at Westminster, gives motivational speeches to local clubs and companies, and volunteers weekly at a Riding for the Disabled centre.
Anyone wishing to donate do Stephanie's fundraising campaign can do so at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gostephanie