London 2012: Ben constantly surprises us – Alison Rushgrove

Alison Rushgrove explains how her son Ben has flourished as he looks ahead to a home Paralympic Games in London

Sprinter Ben Rushgrove has overcome huge personal challenges to excel educationally and also on the track and as he looks ahead to this summer’s London Paralympic Games – mother Alison explains how her son has flourished.

Having struggled in mainstream education – aged ten, Alison made the toughest decision of her life to relocate Ben to Treloars School in Hampshire, more than two hours away from the family home in Bath, which specialises in helping young people with disability take control of their lives.

Ben flourished at the school, gaining eight GCSE grades before going on and also capturing a degree at Bath University in Sports Performance – but it was on the track that the eventual three-time world champion excelled after being spotted by UK Athletics aged 16 at the National Championships in Blackpool.

“Sending Ben off to school at ten was one of the biggest and hardest decisions of our life,” said Alison, speaking at the P&G Thank You Mum campaign that coincided with 100 days to go to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“We knew that Ben was very bright and we knew that he wasn’t thriving at mainstream school because he had such a complex range of problems that weren’t just cerebral palsy.

“Leaving him that first day, when he realised I was going and leaving him they had to physically restrain him in the car park as I drove off and how I got home that day I don’t know as I cried the whole way.

“There have been a lot of proud moments but for Ben to get eight GCSE’s and then go on and get a degree is amazing given how dyslexic he is and I’m also incredibly proud of how he has turned out as a person.”

Ben’s crowning moment on the track came in 2008 in Beijing when he claimed 100m silver at the Paralympic Games.

And as he looks ahead to a home Paralympic Games in London – mother Alison reveals her early carefree approach to Ben’s upbringing has helped him achieve success in latter life.

“My philosophy was always with Ben – let him clamber up the climbing frame and let him climb the tree, get him on a bike and if he falls off then so what?” she added.

“So I just allowed him to find out what he could and couldn’t do for himself. He constantly surprised us with what he could do and I think that’s because we gave him the freedom to flourish if you like.

“When you have a child that’s disabled, when they’re little you don’t know what’s going to become of them. You have no idea but you tend to think life is not going to be that great.

“I think as a family we’re quite determined and will persevere with things until we achieve what we want to achieve.

“Ben’s a joy to be around and when I see him turn up and see his smiling face in the window I can’t help but smile back.”

P&G, supporting family and friends of all Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes in the lead up to London 2012 – visit www.thankyoumum.pg.com

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