Support through Sport UK's Helen Keeling spoke to McAyla Johnston about her incredible road to recovery and the role that sport played ...
Hi McAyla. Can you tell us what happened to you in September 2008?
In 2008, I got hit by a car whilst crossing London Road in Worcester. It was on my dad's 40th birthday. I was just popping to the shop with my friends. I never made it. I have no memory of the car hitting me but my parents have told me that I was airlifted to Birmingham Children's Hospital. I was in ICU for 14 days, in an induced coma. My mom says the first time I opend my eyes was on the 22nd September. I had to learn to eat, drink, dress myself, talk and walk again. I spent nearly two months in hospital and came home on Halloween.
How did sport aid your recovery?
I had an outreach worker who introduced me to javelin, shot put and discus. An outreach worker is someone who helps disabled children to adapt in school and other enviroments. Through learning these throwing sports, I gained confidence and strength in my arms. As I am left hemiplegic (my left side is weak), learning to balance was important for me.
What sports are you currently involved in?
I am involved in athletics (javelin, shot put and discus) and wheelchair basketball. I have also tried wheelchair fencing.
What are your sporting aims and how could anyone reading this help you to realise those aims?
My main sporting aim is to be a Paralympian. I would very much like to be picked as part of the GB Team that goes to Rio. People wishing to help me out can go to www.mcayla-sports.co.uk to help me raise funds so that I am able to compete in as many events as possible and hence raise my profile.
Can you tell us a bit about your website - www.mcayla-sports.co.uk?
The website was set up by my dad to raise awareness of my sporting career. It was set up so that people can be made aware of what I've been through and where it is that I want to get to. It features some information on disability sport and some information on some awards that I've won.
About your awards and honours ... you were an Olympic Torch Bearer; that must have been a real honour and an exciting day?
It was an amazing day when I carried the Olympic flame. I had a wonderful crowd supporting me whilst I walked. Obivously my mom, dad and little sister came to support me as well as some friends. I had to get up really early and meet Darren Campbell, who was also a Torch Bearer, and some other wonderful people. I was really happy that Coca Cola selected me to carry the torch. After I carried it, and the flame was extinguished, I visited my old primary school to show my torch to the staff and children. Then we went to my little sister's school and from there to my high school.
And you were also a 2011 Pride of Britain winner. Tell us - is David Beckham as hot in the flesh as he is on TV?!
Pride of Britan was amazing and yes David Beckham is hot and smells VERY nice! We were flown to Los Angeles from Heathrow very early in the morrning (things always seem to happen early in the morrning!). I had no idea that we were going to meet Daivd Beckham; my mom told me that she had won a shopping trip! I saw some amazing things in LA, like Venice Beach, Universal Studios, THE Hollywood sign and obviously LA Galaxy Stadium. The Pride of Britan event was spectacular and I met some more wonderful celebs. The winners are fabulous people who also did amazing things. I am still in contact with some of the winners.
You're a true star, McAyla, and we at Support through Sport UK really hope that you realise your dream and that we'll be watching you achieve even more success in Rio in 2016!
Would you like to help McAyla realise her dream? Go to www.mcayla-sports.co.uk.