By Mark Etheridge
Ten years ago if you’d told Emily Gray she’d be celebrating her 21st birthday at her second Paralympic Games she would have flashed her filmstar smile at you in disbelief.
That’s because she was flat on her back undergoing an amputation procedure on her left leg due to cancer.
Thursday saw her training in the Paralympic pool in London, happy as a lark along with the other para-swimmers.
“No, 10 years ago I would never have believed that I’d be at my second Paralympics,” the Gauteng athlete told Road to London 2012 after her second swimming session of the day.
Would she be doing anything special for her milestone birthday. “I don’t think so, well not that I know of but maybe have something special for dinner tonight.”
In Beijing she swam just one event, the 100-metre backstroke. “But I was recovering from a shoulder operation and it wasn’t a good race, I didn’t get past the heat stages,” she said.
Testimony to her time spent training is the fact that she’ll be swimming in no less than four events at these Games ÔÇô the 100 and 400m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m Individual Medley.
“I think the 400m is my favourite here because I’m ranked highest in that one, I think about sixth in the world.”
And on her 2012 para-experience so far. “It’s been great, the volunteers are truly helpful, the food is great and the competition pool is just so much better in real life.”
The Paralympic bunch are a close-knit bunch. Testimony was scribbled on the apartment block’s notice board.
“Happy Birthday to my amazing friend Emily Gray. Love form your roomy Shireen”, written by fellow swimmer Shireen Sapiro.
Another birthday was celebrated in the Team SA camp on Thursday, wheelchair basketball’s technical coach Franck Belen, who turned 43.