A brave teenager who decided to have her own leg amputated after years of pain is set to fulfil her dream of competing in an international cheerleading contest after securing a place on Walesâ€™ first ever paracheer team.
Carys Price, 18, from Ynyshir, will be heading to Orlando later this month to represent Wales at the 2019 Senior World Cheerleading Championships â€“ a dream she has had since she was little girl.
The college learner, who is currently studying childcare at Coleg y Cymoedd, will compete in the paracheer category â€“ a division of the sport designed for people who have disabilities.
Having started cheerleading at the age five, Carysâ€™ goal had always been to compete on an international level, but her hopes were thrown into doubt two years ago following life-changing surgery.
Born with talipes, otherwise known as â€˜clubfootâ€™, Carys suffered for years with pain and difficulty walking. After battling through 49 operations to correct the deformities, Carys was left in excruciating pain and, at 16, made the brave decision to have her lower leg amputated to relieve the pain.
Carys explained: â€œIâ€™d had so many surgeries to try and correct my condition, but nothing helped, in fact my condition was getting worse. I wasnâ€™t able to do things other children could do and I was living in constant pain, so I decided to go through with my amputation.
â€œDoing so was the best decision Iâ€™ve ever made. Iâ€™m no longer suffering, and I can do so much more now with one leg than I ever could with two. There were so many things I struggled with before, but I can now do them with ease. Iâ€™ve adapted to life really quickly â€“ it was surprisingly easy to adjust, and I feel as if I have had an amputation all of my life. I couldnâ€™t be happier.â€
Determined to get back into the sport that she loves and refusing to let her disability stop her, Carys joined Team Wales Paracheer â€“ a 20 strong team made up of both disabled and non-disabled athletes.
After impressing coaches with her skill, passion and determination, Carys has been selected to be part of the Welsh squad heading to the World Cheerleading Championships. The competition, held at Orlandoâ€™s Walt Disney resort, sees top cheerleading talent from all over the world come together. It will also be the first year that Wales has a paracheer team competing in the contest.
Carys said: â€œAfter my operation, I never had any doubt in my mind that I would get back into cheerleading. I thought to myself, if I could do it with two legs, Iâ€™d find a way of doing it with one. I managed to get back into it easily â€“ itâ€™s amazing what your body can do and Iâ€™m proud of how far Iâ€™ve come.
â€œIâ€™m so excited to compete in the world championships. This has been a dream of mine for a very long time and now it’s coming true. I was over the moon when I got selected and Iâ€™m really looking forward to the competition. Itâ€™s amazing how many friends I have made through cheerleading and Iâ€™m happy that Iâ€™ll be sharing the experience with them.Â We are all just going to give it our best!â€
Alongside her cheerleading, Carys is currently studying a diploma in Childcare at Coleg y Cymoedd and has hopes to become a play specialist on a childrenâ€™s ward, wanting to help children and young people who are in hospital.
â€œI love cheerleading, but I am also really looking forward to progressing my career. I want to give back to other children and help those that might be in a similar position to how I was growing up.
â€œThe college has been fantastic supporting me with my cheerleading, allowing me extra time to complete assignments and permitting me to miss the first week back after the Easter break so that I can participate at the championships.â€
Katie Sutton, Carysâ€™ tutor and lecturer at Coleg y Cymoeddâ€™s school of care, said: â€œWe are very proud of Carys. She has worked so hard to get to where she is today and is an incredibly determined, positive person with a truly inspiring outlook on life. We are wishing her the best of luck representing Wales in this fantastic competition.â€
Carys will compete as part of Team Wales Paracheer at the International Cheer Union (ICU) 2019 Senior World Cheerleading Championships on 25th April at the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida, USA.
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