Kate Grey is a Paralympic swimmer and represented Great Britain for ten years. She was ‘born and bred on a farm in the West Country’ and now lives in Bath. Kate has begun a new career as a sports broadcaster. She currently works as a freelance feature reporter for BBC Sports news with a particular interest in covering the Paralympics, as well as Women’s and Minority sports.
Kate is a very active role model through her work as an athlete mentor working with young people with the Youth Sports Trust, Sky Sports Living for Sport programme and the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust.
You can follow Kate Grey on Twittter @kategrey25
Q. What was your first experience of sport? How did that develop to where you are now?
Swimming was the first sport I tried at four years old, mainly for the safety aspect. And to begin with, I wasn’t very good and really struggled in deep water. But eventually it started to click and I guess that’s where my sporting career began. At 13 I was selected on to the GB development programme and was involved with the British Disability swimming set-up for the next 10 years.
I also enjoy participating in many sports including: tennis, skiing, and running. I currently play for a local netball team.
Q. Who were your sporting role models as a child? How about now?
My parents have always been my inspiration and role models throughout my career as they have given me every opportunity and allowed me to achieve my goals in life and sport.
In terms of sporting role models, I always remember watching Cathy Freeman win the 400m at the Sydney Olympics.
Q. Was there ever a time when you almost gave up and, if so, what made you keep going?
Swimming is a tough sport: early mornings, long hours and constantly smelling of chlorine. As an athlete in this sport I learned the skills of determination and resilience very quickly. My first real taste of disappointment in sport was narrowly missing out on a medal at the Beijing Paralympics. But this disappointment taught me a lot and made me a stronger person. When I had to deal with the realisation of not qualifying for London 2012 due to an untimely illness, I was able pull myself out of the gutter and get on with the rest of my life. I’ve realised that there’s no such thing as failure, just the start of a new pathway in life.
Sport gave me confidence and proved that no matter what your ability or disability you can still gain so many important life skills by taking part in sport. Whether it’s meeting new people, learning to manage your time or even boosting your self-esteem.
Q. How important are sports fans and audience to you as a sportsperson and your sport?
I’m used to competing in front of small/no crowds because that’s how it used to be and, in some cases, still is in my sport. And I never wanted to be a swimmer to become famous and have thousands of people screaming my name. But if I could re-live the moment when I walked out onto poolside at the Beijing Paralympics in front of the crowd of 14,000 people, I would do it over and over again! As an athlete you put your heart and soul into everything you do and a moment like that makes it all worthwhile.