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UK teen sets off for skiing competition

Emily Plant
Emily Plant Image credit: bbc.co.uk

This weekend a girl, who was told by doctors she would never be able to ride a bike or participate in a sporting activity which requires good balance, is off to the Swiss Alps to compete in a high profile skiing contest.

Emily Plant is taking part in a competition organised by Special Olympics Grampian which is open to all UK skiers with an intellectual disability regardless of their age.

Over 90 UK athletes will be heading off to Switzerland for the week-long event in the hope to qualify for the 2021 World Winter Games being held in Sweden.

Emily, who has Global Development Delay, can’t wait to compete in the games.

The 18-year-old told the BBC: "I just feel free and I like the speed. I just feel happy and if I have a bad day at school or home I can just come here and let it all out. It makes you feel like you're not alone.

"You just feel like you're at home and your team are your family - you have got each other's backs."

She added: "If someone else is just like you, it's like you're not in this world on your own."

What are Emily chances of jumping on a plane to the Winter Games next year? Well, she’s been skiing since she was 13 and has already won two competitions thanks to the training she’s had from Adventure Aberdeen Snowsports.

Despite not being able to read or write and finding numbers a challenge her mum, Caroline Plant, says Emily is “determined”.

Caroline said: "When she was younger, she went to hospital to be investigated for her disabilities and they always said she wouldn't ride a bike.

"Well, she decided that she was going to ride a bike and that was it - she did it.

"She's that determined, and if she wants to do something she will do it.

"But they said with her balance and her coordination she wouldn't be able to do anything like that.

"Now she's turned to skiing and is having a great time."

Caroline added: "People with disabilities don't often get the opportunity to compete like this or even meet people and have a chance at these sorts of things.

"It's great that they are able to compete with people at their own ability and having so much fun while they do it."

Emily has been trained by ski instructor Beth Woodall, who said: "It's an amazing opportunity for the athletes to take what they have learnt here on the dry slope and to take it to the mountains.

"For some of them it's their first time leaving Scotland - never mind going to the Alps. It is inspiring but quite intimidating at the same time but they'll adjust well and have an amazing time no doubt."

Oh by the way a quick message to the doctors who also said Emily would never be able to ride a bike…You were wrong there as well!

Emily practices on the dry slopes in Garthdee, Aberdeenshire.