It was just a normal Thursday morning in August; I was stood at the sink polishing my platinum douches, the sun had just started to warm up and the dogs were barking at the sound of the next door neighbor’s creaking leather sling. I’d just turned round to put my Dora the Explorer tea towel back on the rack when the most glorious sequined costume caught my eye beaming out from my telebox.
It was London 2012 and the turn for the Artistic Gymnast to fight it out for their chance to be crowned Olympic champion. I was mesmerized be all the twirls and summersaults as the gymnast managed to work a hula-hoop and glide gracefully through the air with satin ribbons flowing beautifully in a spectrum of colours. As the crowds cheered like mobs at the London riots I thought that’s what is missing in my life.
The very next day I signed myself up at the local gymnast club. I was larger than the other gymnast, but I as lubed my 100kg frame into my lycra onesie I knew there and then that this was the place for me. Beads of sweat formed on the palms of my hands and in my gusset as I held a ribbon for the first time, it was magical. It wasn’t long till I was gliding through the air, like a brick; still I stuck with it and after 3 months of having nothing but ribbons for breakfast, ribbons for lunch and a proper dinner I was ready to compete at the Greater Manchester Council Estate Games.
I came in second, it was the exact catalyst I needed to strive to compete on a professional level, soon I was walking the dog whilst hula-hooping 3 miles a day. The grueling schedule meant that my relationships suffered, me and my boyfriend started to argue and tragically he died as his neck become tangled in a stray ribbon in a freak accident as I summersaulted down the stairs, it was an awful time in my life but as the judge found me not guilty of his murder I knew that ultimately it was the thought of standing on the Olympic stadium that got me through it.
As I rehearsed for the next qualifying games I found that I had to up the difficulty in my routine if I really wanted to compete on a national level. My coach suggested that I do the whole routine whilst wearing roller blades, I wasn’t sure at first but once I’d done my first rehearsal in my new Hello Kitty skates I knew he was right. Now I was zooming round the floor with my ribbons flapping in the breeze.
That’s when it happened, the day my life changed forever, when all my dreams were taken away from me. As I did a backwards summersault with double pike twist one of the ribbons became caught on one of my wheels, there was nothing I could do as I tumbled into the refreshment stand. I was trapped under the rubble and had knocked over a jug of Ribenna Tooth Kind, I was struggling to breath as the purple juice began to trickle over my face and a stray custard cream had become lodged in my throat.
I blacked out and was sent to The Salford Royal Rehabilitation Centre for Injured Gymnast. As I looked back at what had happened and how the ribbons had ruined my life I vowed never to pick up a pair again. It took seven months of grueling physiotherapy for me to learn to walk again. I also had to learn to read and write; I could never do that before so that was a bit of a bonus. Soon my accident had made front-page news in the Anglers Times and a collection for my recovery had begun. As I was handed a cheque for £15 I was touched knowing I could book a one-way flight with Ryanair, without luggage, to the Isle of Man, it gave me something to focus on and speeded up my recovery no end.
I now spend all my time helping other gymnasts who are addicted to their sport and I’m running a public awareness campaign to rid the world of this awful disease. As far as I’m concerned the ribbons are more addictive than cocaine. I will not rest until we live in a ribbon free society.