Introducing our New Brand Ambassador Chloe Ball-Hopkins
Meet GB Para Athlete, BBC Sports Reporter & Sky-Diving Beauty Pageant Contestant Chloe Ball-Hopkins
Literally nothing will stop Chloe Ball-Hopkins from living life to its full potential, and she’s had more than her fair share of knock backs. But her fierce will and strident perseverance have seen her rise up, again and again, to pursue her goals and find new ways of succeeding. This grit & determination combined with her relentlessly positive attitude and great sense of humour make her an infectiously vibrant person to talk to, I found myself warming to her immediately.
Just because you’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you have to be confined.
The first I knew about Chloe Ball-Hopkins was that she recently became the first woman in a wheelchair to enter a beauty pageant. Her eventful journey to this history-making situation it turns out was not, shall we say, direct.
Being born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis, Chloe has needed bone reconstructive & repositioning surgery every year of her life. But she was also diagnosed with muscular dystrophy age 4 which means her muscles are not able to repair after surgery. Not the most ideal combination of ailments!
Undeterred by her condition, at around age 12, Chloe became enthusiastic about sport and was being touted as a potential GB Paralympian in wheelchair racing, for the London 2012 Games.
But fate had other plans
In 2012 Chloe became severely ill. She was hospitalised for several months with glandular fever and was unable to compete. As if that wasn’t enough the year ended with the most tragic blow, the death of her best friend Lauren after losing her fight with a brain tumour.
Chloe hit rock bottom but her amazing capacity for endurance and finding the light in the darkness got her through it.
Putting the awful year of 2012 behind her, Chloe got back up and found the inner strength to keep going.
“You can get knocked down 7 times but you’ve got to get back up 8”
Through junior camps and the encouragement of sportsman turned coach, Fred Stevens, Chloe discovered a talent for archery, a sport much better suited to her condition. She was a natural.
But no sooner had she begun training, she was knocked back again by essential surgery on her thumb which kept her away from sport for 6 months.
By 2014 things were really looking up again and Chloe, now age 18 was selected for the GB Para archery team. Representing Britain in international tournaments she won a European Championship Bronze medal and even broke world records. Chloe was flying high and on a winning streak.
It was just a few months before Chloe and the GB Para archery team were due to fly to Rio for the 2016 Paralympics when fever struck again! This time parasites attacked Chloe’s digestive system, keeping her out of training. Then, within days of recovering, she re-broke her thumb, and later her collar bone, finally scuppering her chances to compete in Brazil.
"Ride the waves because there’s a beautiful beach somewhere at the end of it where you can just sit and chill and look at the sun."
Many an average human would have called it a day at this point and retreated to a quiet life, but, like I said, Chloe is a relentless optimist. She also believes everything happens for a reason.
Unperturbed, Chloe threw herself into her studies, which she had wisely continued throughout her training, competing and injuries. She found her way into sports journalism via the BBC Kick Off Scheme for trainee sports reporters and by July 2016 had landed a dream job reporting BBC Points West. “I realised I wanted to be a sports journalist in 2011. I thought, this is what I want to do when I’m done with my sport. I didn’t expect it to be the other way round!”
It was while working on a story for Points West that she unexpectedly found herself entering the Miss Bristol 2017 Beauty Pageant and became the first ever peson in a wheelchair to enter a British Beauty Pageant. In turn this has led to Chloe entering a second Pageant, Catwalk Perfect UK and raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity. But that's another story which you can read about here!