Paralympic silver and gold medallist swimmer Tully Kearney has dived deep into another skill and has been selected into the Paralympic talent programme.
The 24-year-old is a Well Wishers charity supporter who attended Walsall Manor Hospital’s Christmas light switch on last Christmas.
Her mum, Amanda Kearney, Senior Specialist and Language has worked at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for 17 years and Tully has other family connections with the hospital.
The Aldridge local has had Cerebral Palsy from birth (which affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture) and developed the progressive movement disorder Generalised Dystonia in her teens (which affects multiple muscle groups throughout the body).
The England Athletics Talent Programme is the first rung on the ladder of the British Athletics Programme. Tully and her coach will attend specialist training camps and competitions to develop her skills.
Tully competes in Frame Running. This is an adaptive sport for people with neurological conditions who have high support needs and cannot use their legs, and have restricted movement in their arms meaning they cannot compete in wheelchair racing.
A Frame Runner is a three wheeled frame where the athlete is supported by a saddle and body plate. The athlete propels against the frame using their feet, and steers using the mobility within their hands and/or arms.
Tully started Frame Running to support her swimming as in the pool she cannot use her legs at all, but Frame Running helps to exercise them and also helps her cardiovascular fitness for swimming. She began Frame Running when she was out of the pool with a shoulder injury and has never looked back.
She has now done 13 Park Runs (5K) on her Frame Runner too including Walsall Arboretum on Christmas Day! She loves how Frame Running not helps only with her fitness but allows her to be fully included. She has helped set up the Manchester Frame Running Club where she is at university and is passionate about getting disabled children and young people with high support needs into sport.
When asking Amanda how Tully felt to be selected on the programme she said:
“Tully was honoured to be selected and it was a big surprise as she had no idea that she was even being considered beforehand. Obviously swimming is still her main sport and she is on the British Para Swimming World Class Podium Programme for swimming which is the highest level you can reach and, as such, is a lottery funded athlete.”
She added: “I’m proud of Tully for everything she does. Life is not always easy when you have Cerebral Palsy and Generalised Dystonia, but she never gives up and her Gold and Silver at the Paralympic Games are testament to 10 years of hard work behind the scenes and many setbacks. I can’t wait to go to the Palace with her when she is awarded her MBE later this year – it will be amazing!
“All my family are extremely supportive and proud – especially her auntie Helen Lowe who is a nurse at Walsall Manor Hospital and her brother who started as an apprentice at the Manor, then worked as a CSW on bank whilst studying for his degree, and has now graduated as an ODP and works for Derby and Burton NHS Trust.”
Tully is now completing her Master’s degree in Human Physiology and hopes to be accepted onto the NHS Clinical Scientist Training in the future.