A former Army officer who voluntarily had her leg amputated has had her bid for Paralympic gold boosted after being presented with a new custom-built sports wheelchair.
Professional wheelchair tennis player Cornelia Oosthuizen was presented with the RGK Grand Slam X during the UK premiere of Tomorrow, a film from executive producer Martin Scorsese, at the British Museum on Thursday.
The wheelchair was supplied by The OppO Foundation, a charity started by former RAF serviceman and hunter on Celebrity Hunted Kayam Iqbal, which helps ex-military personnel, their families and dependents on their return to civilian life, as part of its Team OppO project.
Backed by drinks giant Britvic, Team OppO is aiming to help five or more ex-servicepeople who have suffered an injury and who are wishing to compete in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo or Invictus.
Cornelia, 40, who was medically discharged from the Army in 2016 after ten years of service having been promoted to Major, said: “The presentation was a complete surprise.
“This is a top of the range sports wheelchair especially designed for tennis and it’s a massive privilege to be gifted this. It will also be a massive help for my 2020 bid.
“I would like to extend my thanks to The OppO Foundation and Britvic and say a sincere thank you for their generosity.
“As a veteran the support from the OppO Foundation is invaluable in helping with the transition from military to civilian life, but also the other way around – it can help civilians understand more about the issues affecting ex-servicepeople.”
“I would encourage any guys or girls with disabilities, not just those that are congenital but who have perhaps had an accident, to give themselves the opportunity to re-engage with life and sport is a wonderful way to do this.
“Life might be different, but it is definitely not over. You may surprise yourself in what enjoyment you can find.”
British Muslim Kayam, 39, who was medically discharged from the military with PTSD, said: “These athletes will be OppO champions for all injured military personnel, to show that an injury, whether it is physical or mental, does not have to be a barrier to achieving your goals.