The wheelchair basketballer who refused to let her condition hold her back

The wheelchair basketballer who refused to let her condition hold her back

WHEELCHAIR basketballer and Paralympian Amber Merritt says she wants to show that disabilities are a more than meets the eye.

The 23-year-old was born with clubfoot, which means her Achilles on her left side stopped developing correctly.

Originally, her left big toe was touching the left side of her leg when she was born.

She has had almost 10 surgeries and her left leg is less developed and smaller than her right.

She can walk around on both feet and was not always confined to a chair, but has to be careful and manage the pain and not tear any tendons.

However, she has not let that deter her, playing wheelchair basketball from 14 and going on to play in the London 2012 Paralympics with the Gliders and won a silver medal.

“I am a bit of a unique case,” she said.

“The leg and foot has affected everything on the left side as it is smaller than the right by 4cm and I wear a different shoe size which is three sizes smaller so there are a lot of implications.”

She said she loved using her position working at Wheelchair Sports Association WA to raise awareness.

“I love talking to people and going into the community and raising awareness,” she said.

“Disability is a lot more than meets the eye.”

As a junior, Merritt was a strong competitive swimmer and did swim with the able-bodied competitors as well as with people with a disability.

However, she was told she was too able for the people with disabilities swim team and when she swam with the able bodied she kept being disqualified due to her leg, leaving her in a grey area.

She was asked by a wheelchair basketball coach to sit down and take a shot and nailed it.

Merritt said when she was younger she played many sports including netball, cross-country and swimming.

She is currently involved with Wheelchair Sports Association WA and the Wheel LIFE program, which sees people from the community spend a day in a wheelchair.

The City of Gosnells participated in the statewide Wheelchair Challenge on November 22, in which able-bodied people spend the day in a wheelchair to learn the daily issues encountered by people with a physical disability.

On November 28, community members can learn more about life with a physical disability by taking part in a fun and interactive program called WHEEL Life, during which participants will be able to play in a wheelchair basketball match.