Olympic hopeful wins special achievement award

Olympic hopeful wins special achievement award

3rd February 2014


A PROMISING swimmer struck down by a mystery illness has pledged to battle back to fitness as she continues to chase her Olympic dream.

Blood samples from Elizabeth Fenby are being analysed by leading scientists in laboratories in Munich, London and Sheffield to try and reveal the cause of an ailment that leaves her exhausted.

She has undergone biopsies, scans and tests and been examined by specialists at North Tees Hospital and the RVI in Newcastle.

At one point the 14-year-old’s condition was so serious she spent weeks in hospital and was confined to a wheelchair for months, having to undergo physiotherapy and appointments with a psychologist to help her deal with the pain.

The grit and resolve that makes her so successful in the pool – she is ranked in the top ten in the region – has helped her get back on her feet and she has vowed to pursue her ambition to swim for her country at the Olympics.

And her doggedness in the face of such adversity earned her a Special Achievement Award at the annual Darlington Sports Winners ceremony, staged at Darlington College.

Vice president of Darlington Rotary Club Ken Wiper, who presented her with the award, said: “It is humbling to hear the achievements of all the young people receiving awards. But Elizabeth’s story is worthy of special praise as she fights to overcome such adversity.”

Elizabeth, a pupil of St Michael’s Catholic Academy, in her hometown of Billingham, is a member of Darlington Amateur Swimming Club, of which her father Glen is head coach.

He said: “It has been a nightmare. She was in the pool, in full training with the top squad, when she started complaining that her legs hurt. I took one look at them and got her straight to hospital.

“The frustrating thing is that they don’t know what it is so they can’t treat it. They just give her drugs for the pain. It seems to be some sort of metabolic issue that means her muscles don’t rest and recover when she is asleep.”

Elizabeth added: “I had never been ill in my life. It has been a disastrous 18 months but I am thinking positively and am determined to get better.”

As well as being able to walk again she is back in the pool training and recently took part in a gala, achieving personal best times in all her swims.

She is striving to get back on track to her previous regional qualifying standard and still dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer.

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