Born in 1972, Ian contracted eye cancer (retinablastoma) as a baby, losing his left eye and most of the sight in his right. Following many operations, Ian was left with an indent on the right side of his face. He also had to wear some pretty thick glasses to help his vision.
By the age of 7, Ian’s parents realised that he needed help to improve his self-esteem as he was coming home from school in tears some afternoons from being teased about the way he looked. Little did they know how much their next step for him would impact his life.
Deciding to introduce Ian to the sport of Judo, his parents took him to Micklefield Judo Club. The two coaches there – Ron Cleere and John Oke – warmly accepted him into the club and treated him exactly the same as all the other members, with no special treatment because of his eyes.
From then on, Judo became a big part of Ian’s life. Within three months the teasing he received about his looks stopped, because he now had a new confidence and was able to just ignore it.
Ian was not a natural at Judo, taking two years to win his first medal, but he worked very hard in training and had a passion for success. Over time Ian continued to improve, receiving his first International selection in 1989 whilst still in his last year of secondary school. Competing in the European Visually Impaired Championships was a dream come true, and the beginning of an international sporting career that would see him travel the world, winning two Paralympic medals, as well as medals in the World Championships and the European Championships.
Competing in five Paralympic Games, Ian was on course to represent ParalympicsGB at his sixth Games in London. But then he sustained an injury during training, so he called it a day, ending an International career spanning 22 years at the top. This was in 2011; since then he has concentrated on the next chapter in his life – helping others to find the best in themselves and progress to success.
Ian couldn’t have achieved any of this without the forward thinking of his parents, his coaches, and the support of his wife, Debbie, and their two kids, Leah and Jordyn.
Life is full of opportunities; don’t let them pass by.
Hear more about Ian’s Inspirational journey from a shy 7 year old, to a Paralympic Medallist
Some of Ian’s achievements include
2008 - Beijing Paralympics Ninth
2007 - World Championship Bronze
2007 - European Championship Bronze
2006 - World Championship Bronze
2004 - Athens Paralympic Silver
2000 - Sydney Paralympic Fifth
1996 - Atlanta Paralympic Bronze
1995 - World Champion
1992 - Barcelona Paralympics
Four times European Champion