Every talented sportsman and sportswoman with a disability are changing their focus to concentrate on one big goal – the Rio Paralympics of 2016.

The swimmer Emily Gray is no exception.

She is extremely focused and dedicated to her preparation for the Rio Paralympics. She swims eight sessions a week for two hours a session, she goes to gym twice a week for an hour at a time as well as three 45 minute Pilates classes a week.

Emily stretches after gym but she does extra stretching if she feels the need to do so or ice bath sessions for recovery.

She struggled with a lower back injury last year and her training has slowly picked up throughout the year. ”By next year I aim to be training at full intensity so adaptions can take place and I will be as fit as I possibly can be for 2016,” explains Emily.

Emily believes that consistency is key in keeping up levels of fitness throughout the year so she plans to only take a few days off over the Christmas period. “2015 is an important year as the IPC World Champs will be happening in August, so I will be aiming to peak then as well,” Emily continues.

Emily loves her sport and she feels that her love must transcend into actual racing “when I stand up in the blocks, I am doing it out of passion and the desire to enjoy the race. Once you feel that, you will automatically give it your all and your competitors won’t get to your head."

All of this preparation has an end goal in mind. Emily explains: “I am really aiming to medal in the 400 free, 100 back and 100 free.”

She believes in visualization and although she doesn’t visualize all the time, Emily emphasizes the importance of training mentally and physically.

Emily is an accomplished two-time South African Paralympian who believes that the hardship that she faced when she was younger was part of a bigger plan for her. She is the epitome of brave and she is the perfect example of someone who was faced with a difficult situation but chose to overcome it with a positive outlook.

Emily has a truly remarkable story as she battled cancer at the age of eleven and had to have her leg amputated. Emily has since attended two Paralympics (Beijing and London), and is set to represent South Africa again in Brazil. Emily, now 22 years old, is truly motivational and inspirational as she shows all the characteristics of a strong and successful South African woman.

She shares five important acts of being brave that helped her and continue to help her when confronted with challenges:

Perseverance

“I think that this is one of the hardest tasks to tackle, because giving up is much easier than pushing on,” says Emily.

Acceptance and understanding

Emily explains that the key to being brave is to accept the challenge that has been afforded to you. “Questioning and analyzing why you are being faced with a hardship often deters you from accepting and dealing with it, so it is important to come to terms with it,” she says.

Asking for help

Often when people are going through difficulties they try tackle it by themselves, but Emily enforces that you should not be afraid to ask for help. “Although you may be strong enough to face your circumstances without the help of others, you should not feel that you have to face them alone,” Emily explains.

Believe in a greater cause

“Although it is difficult to accept or understand, facing a trying encounter is your destiny and it is part of your journey,” Emily explains. “Looking back now, I would not change what I have been through, it was hard but it has made me the person that I am today and I have absolutely no regrets.“

Move forward

“The best advice that I can give you is to move on and keep looking forward,” Emily explains. “Don’t indulge in self-pity, accept what has been and commit to get over it. Never forget that there are people that are worse off than you.”

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