Elanor In training at Aldershot 2020
Elanor earning 2 bronze medals at the GB Special Olympics Ski Championship, 2020
Supported Living resident Elanor lives in Godalming. Helen Jackson, Marketing Manager caught up with Elanor over zoom, during the 3rd National Covid-19 lockdown after hearing word of Elanor’s latest achievement in alpine skiing.
At The Meath, Elanor is supported to take part in a broad range of activities in addition to living as independently as possible in her supported living home. However, as anyone who has chatted to Elanor around The Meath will know, she also has a particular passion and skill which she pursues outside of The Meath. Elanor loves to ski. It’s always pleasing when one’s passions overlap with one’s skills and here we see the happy marriage of the two.
At face value it could appear that Elanor has some significant challenges to overcome with her pursuits in Alpine Skiing. To begin with she lives in Godalming, which has a distinct lack of alpine ski slopes and secondly, she lives with epilepsy, autism and has a learning disability. Catching up with Elanor over zoom at the beginning of the January UK wide lockdown provided a reminder of the daily challenges that Elanor contends with. The new lockdown regime brought with it a sudden change to Elanor’s daily routine which was clearly a source of stress to her. While being unable to attend her usual Meath sessions Elanor had worked with her support staff to create a new schedule that was up on her bedroom door, a schedule and routine give Elanor the security she needs. Also, on hold due to lockdown are her ski training sessions which usually take place on the dry ski slopes of Aldershot. Amidst the grey and gloomy days of lockdown January 2021, Elanor has some wonderful news to share.
Blue skies are ahead for Elanor, who has recently learnt that she has been selected to represent Great Britain in Alpine Skiing in the Special Olympics, Russia, 2022. In her words, being selected to represent her nation is the “pinnacle of any athletes career”. Elanor has been in training since the age of 9 and feels that skiing has given her confidence in her ability to apply herself and persevere “put your mind to it and you can achieve.” The pandemic has meant that she cannot attend her usual training sessions with her coach Peter Jesse and she explains that maintaining her fitness levels during lockdown is proving a challenge. “This has taught me to be adaptable and flexible, I’m doing more 1:1 sessions in The Meath gym now” she explains. A changing routine is not easy for anyone who lives with autism and this is testimony to Elanor’s determination and strength.
Simply being selected to represent one’s country is a huge achievement, but how does Elanor prepare herself mentally for the challenge of bringing home a medal? Is winning a medal a key concern, or is she content with training hard and doing her best? Elanor explains that skiing offers her so much, both mentally and physically. It offers her the chance to have confidence in herself and demands that she focuses on her ability first and foremost. Wisely, Elanor refers to the Special Olympics Oath regarding the importance of winning a medal: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”.
Ever brave in her attempts, Elanor is proud to show that “people living with epilepsy, autism and disabilities can achieve”. Whether on the dry slopes of Aldershot or the snowy peaks of Kazan, Russia, we wish Elanor the courage to achieve her best and Olympic medal or not, to return home with a smile on her face and pride in her heart.