Hannah Moore’s story is one of incredible grit, determination and resolve. She recently won gold at the ETU European Paratriathlon Championships two years and one day on from a life-changing anniversary – the amputation of her right leg. Hannah was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CPRS) in 2012 when a routine procedure went wrong. This led to her developing severe ulcers in her foot and eventually choosing to pay £5,000 for an amputation after 55 operations.
Hannah’s passion to pursue triathlon came while she was wheelchair racing in the years prior to her amputation. She had been unable to swim due to the open wounds and decided she was going to test out the sport, once she was physically able to, having been inspired by her encounters with triathletes and para-triathletes. Since her amputation, she has been crowned British champion and is now aiming to take the World Championships by storm following her success on the European stage.
Here, Hannah reflects on the emotion of winning the European title, the difference sport has made to her life, her love of karate and her appetite to play a role in inspiring the next generation….
How did you feel winning the European title?
“The whole experience of my time out in Estonia was incredible. I was feeling really good going into the race and after going around the course in the days leading up to it I felt very comfortable. I was in tears when I crossed the line to win my first European title - I was just so delighted. It meant a lot to me as it was just one day after the two-year anniversary of my amputation and to achieve something like that after everything that had happened was so overwhelming.”
What appealed to you most about triathlon?
“I think the thing that initially attracted me to triathlon was the bit of wheelchair racing I had been doing for about two years before my amputation. I had met people who had done triathlon and para-triathlon. It always really appealed to me but at the time I was wheelchair racing I was never able to do it due to my leg and the open ulcers in my foot. I think the fact that I couldn’t do it made me want to do it even more. I decided before my amputation that it was something I was going to try.”
What impact has the sport had on your life? And how much of a difference has your running blade made?
“Sport has had a massive impact on my life and completely changed everything for me. My rehabilitation was helped so much by participation in sport and that helped me to achieve so many things that I never thought would be possible like walking. I started swimming at first just three weeks after my amputation and from there just gradually built up over time. My running blade has made a huge difference to my performance and it has enabled me to keep progressing and will continue to into the future. When I could first run 5km on my NHS provided prosthetic in April 2017, it took me close to 45 minutes. In April 2018, thanks to my training and my running blade, my best was 22:57.”
What have been your other key achievements so far? And what are your ambitions for the future?
“In May 2018, I made my international debut at the Eton Dorney Paratriathlon World Cup which was staged as part of the Arctic One Tri and Para Tri Festival - that was also where I did my first ever triathlon in May 2017. It was a great day because it just signified for me how far I had come in that year. I have also recently been out to Iseo in Italy to race in my first World Paratriathlon Series race which was an incredible experience. I didn’t really know what to expect but the whole team made me feel so comfortable and I had a great race there under some difficult circumstances. To finish the season this year, I am hoping to be selected to race at the World Championships in the Gold Coast in September 2018. In the future, I hope to continue racing at World Series races, to retain my European title and should my category be selected to race at the Paralympics that would be the goal.”
Do you have a thirst to inspire the next generation?
“I think it is so important to inspire children and young people and to show what is possible with determination and hard work. As a child myself, I was never exposed to disability sport. When I acquired my disability I never really thought sport would be an option for me. After a lot of research, I realised that there was sport I could do and there were people who inspired me to try a couple of different things which was when I found wheelchair racing. I think it’s so important for children regardless of whether they are able-bodied or have a disability to be exposed to sport and the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”
How important a role have your family played throughout your life?
“My family have always been very supportive in the decisions that I’ve made. As a child, when I started karate, not only did they take me to my sessions and competitions, but they also started doing it as well. My parents and my sister have black belts. They supported me through my illness, my decision to have my leg amputated and to where I am now and I am so grateful. I hope they are proud of my achievements since my amputation because it would not have been possible without them.”
What plans do you have outside of sport? How do you find balancing everything in your life with training and competing?
“I have just recently finished at Yeovil College where I was studying an Access to HE course in science which I had to complete to be able to go to university. In September, I will be going to Loughborough University to study Sport and Exercise Science which I am so excited about. After completing my degree, I would like to work as a physiologist. I have been working part time at a supermarket as well as studying and training. It’s been difficult to balance but I always find time to fit it in. It did mean some very early mornings and late evenings, but I think if you are prepared to put in the hard work for something that you really want to achieve then you will always find the time.”
Do you still find time to do karate? And what impact has it had on you?
“I did go back to doing karate after my amputation. I do enjoy it and always found time during the winter to do it. I haven’t had so much time recently since the beginning of the triathlon season because I’ve been focusing on training and racing my best. The values that I was taught becoming a black belt in karate has had a massive influence on my life in general. I think it has also has played a part in my success in triathlon as it taught me the determination, discipline and focus. These values have enabled me to be able to keep pushing myself in a race when you are exhausted and in pain.”
How has the support from SportsAid this year helped you?
“The financial backing is helping me to continue to progress within my sport by supporting my training costs and hopefully updating some equipment. The recognition was definitely a boost because it has been hard to maintain my sport alongside my other commitments. I am very grateful to SportsAid for the work they do in helping athletes like myself to continue to develop.”
What will you do to #SupportTheNext generation of British sporting heroes? SportsAid needs your help to ensure talented athletes like Hannah can continue receiving the backing they rely on. You can make a regular donation to the charity and have a significant impact on the country’s sporting future.