Faces of the Ad: Kiera's story
Kiera Roche, one of the stars of our launch advert, tells her Parasport story.
I loved running when I was younger.
It wasn’t because I was good at it, it just gave me an incredible sense of freedom. I would get up early and run and it was that thing in my life that I just really, really loved.
After my accident one of the first things I said when I was still in hospital was that I was going to run. The physios told me I shouldn’t and that above-knee amputees didn’t run but I loved it too much to give it up.
I asked the physiotherapist ‘am I not able to run, or should I not run?’
They said that it wasn’t good for me, but I said ‘let’s give it a go’ and, against their advice, I tried it.
"Try lots of different things that you might not think you want to do."
Looking back it was too soon and it was really uncomfortable, painful even. Running had been such a big part of my life, I found it really depressing to not be able to do it anymore.
My partner Robin suggested I take up cycling (he is a very keen cyclist) to build my physical strength and I found cycling that much easier, easier than walking at the time!
I think that’s one of the most important things when it comes to getting into disability sport. Be adaptable. Try lots of different things that might you not think you want to do.
I have tried a huge array of sports trying to find the right thing for me. From shooting, sitting volleyball and climbing to wheelchair dance, walking football and Nordic walking – and everything in between.
"When I was younger I did so much sport but the reasons I did it have changed so much over the years."
At first I cycled a lot and it gave me back that sense of freedom I had lost. I built up my strength and running took a bit of a back seat.
Eventually though I was able to run again.
It’s not pretty and I’m not brilliant but I’ve built up to about three miles.
It’s still not perfect but I can do it. When I got back to it it’d been ten years so there was a big gap but that feeling when I first got back running was the best feeling in the world. I was so happy.
I would get to one mile and then I couldn’t go any further. But I built gradually and that’s where yoga and Pilates came in.
I decided that if I wanted to run then I needed to be fitter and stronger and so I started those activities to stay strong and keep my flexibility so now practice yoga, swim, walk, go to the gym when I can and run a little.
It’s funny because when I was younger I did so much sport but the reasons I did it have changed so much over the years.
I was 30 when I had my accident, so sport became about rehab and I just found that the fitter I was the easier it was to be an amputee and be mobile.
"Before I wanted to prove that I could do things as an amputee but now I I’m driven by other things and I just want to stay healthy."
It can sound like it was a seamless journey to go back to sport but it can be difficult for people, I have periods where I am active and periods when I am inactive.
I feel so much healthier, happier, fitter and more energised when I am active, but wearing a prosthesis can get in the way of activity, and not having the right prosthesis for the activity can also be a problem.
It was only when by limb provider OttoBock brought out a running knee that I was able to get back to my preferred sport.
My Dad was absolutely brilliant throughout the whole process. He would say ‘there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just an amputee and you need to treat your prosthesis as part of you and just carry on’.
His optimistic outlook really helped and I didn’t face the psychological barriers that some people do because sport was something I wanted to do and I was determined to find a way.
But now it’s about staying healthy and setting a good example for my children. Before I wanted to prove that I could do things as an amputee but now I I’m driven by other things and I just want to stay healthy.
It can be difficult to start something, but I think I’d just say go and try things. Try everything you can until you find the thing that sticks.
If you’re afraid then that’s OK but there’s always help available. You’ll be amazed how many people will try and help you if you ask.
Be adaptable and be brave and take those first steps.