Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson’s outstanding career as a Paralympic athlete coupled with her intelligent and charismatic personality has done as much as any single person to transform the way disability sports are perceived globally.
Nowadays, the audience for the Paralympics looks beyond the disabilities of the athletes taking part and instead focuses on what is really important: the skill, the prowess, the competition, the excitement of the occasion, the achievement. Paralympic sport is recognised as very much part of the elite international sporting calendar and a lot of that is down to the influence and advocacy of Dame Tanni.
With her skills in public speaking now honed by the world of politics – she is an active participant in Britain’s legislative process, as a crossbench life peer in the House of Lords – Dame Tanni is a compelling choice to be the keynote speaker at your event.
Cardiff-born in 1969 and christened Carys, she became known by her familiar name of “Tanni” after her sister called her “tiny” as a baby. Small she may have been as a child but she has made a huge impact. A wheelchair user because of her spina bifida, Dame Tanni’s athletic honours board, spanning an international sporting career that began at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, is remarkable. Sixteen Paralympic medals including 11 golds. 30 world records. Winner of the London Marathon six times.
It gives her true authority when it comes to speaking about turning adversity into triumph: but Dame Tanni isn’t just an achiever – she wants to contribute, to put something back.
The National Disability Council, the Sports Council for Wales, UK Sport, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, SportsAid, UNICEF – these are among the many bodies that she has served with honour and which have benefited from her hard work, insight and commitment to public service. No wonder that she has received numerous honorary doctorates from universities round the country, including Oxford and Cambridge: it’s a mark of both her popularity and the impact she has made on people’s lives.
Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson is truly one of the ‘Great Britons’ alive today. Her presence as a keynote speaker would make a wonderful headline guest at your event. What she has to say would be even more valuable.
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Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson
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