As one half of the “golden couple” of British Paralympics, Nyree Kindred is well used to media attention; but there has been a new addition to the high profile team since the Beijing games in 2008.
Last year, Kindred gave birth to Ella, and she is determined that her daughter will be in the crowd to watch her race in the 100 metres backstroke (S6) at London 2012.
Her husband, Sascha, who she married two years ago, will also be competing in the pool, but they are now well-used to the media spotlight that was first switched on in Athens in 2004, when they both won gold medals on the same day.
“It not only gets us in the limelight,” she told Disability News Service, “but it gets disability sport in the media.”
Kindred – who already has two Paralympic gold medals from three Paralympic Games – says the early morning sessions of a professional swimmer were tough in Ella’s first few months, when she was waking frequently through the night, but her daughter’s sleeping schedule is now much more attuned to the requirements of her parents’ training routines.
“She sleeps well through the night and as we are getting ready for training she wakes up,” said Kindred.
But Ella’s ability to fit in well with her parents’ punishing swimming regime is no surprise: her mother was in the pool on the morning she was due to give birth – Ella was born the following day – and she took just six weeks off after the birth.
Ella now attends a nursery, but also comes to the pool a couple of time a week with her mother.
Kindred said she hopes she is a role model for other disabled parents, often simply by being “out and about and having Ella on my lap” in her wheelchair.
Like any other disabled parents – they both have cerebral palsy – she and Sascha have learned to adapt, and so has Ella. There are some things Nyree cannot do, and there are others that Sascha cannot do.
“We just adapt and the baby adapts,” she said. “Ella adapts to how we do things. If I am feeding her she knows that I do not get her, she will crawl over to me.”
Kindred said she was also keen to demonstrate that disabled people can achieve at the highest levels “as long as you have support”, whether it is through swimming, writing a book, or becoming a teacher.
Another key member of the swimming team, Jim Anderson, is also hoping that the London 2012 Paralympics will improve attitudes towards disabled people.
One of the British team’s most successful Paralympians, London will be his sixth games, and he already has six gold medals in the S2 category, including four from Athens in 2004.
He is another Paralympian who expresses the hope that the games will “just make people realise that disabled people are normal people”.
Being in the public eye, he says, “helps me put disabled people forward. It makes people realise that they are just people. A wheelchair is just a wheelchair.”
But he was reluctant to speak in depth about the issue of disability rights. He is, he says, “a swimmer first and foremost”.
The London 2012 swimming events will take place between 30 August and 8 September.
1 August 2012