Sport27th May 2015

SLFirst Announces Deaf Sporting Ambassadors

Ambitious to compete at an elite level in mainstream sport, our sporting ambassadors prove what can be achieved

by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

At SLFirst we love our sport. In the 40 months the magazine has been in existence we have attended numerous deaf sports events throughout the UK, promoting as many sports as possible. Whilst sport is not for everyone, lots of people do enjoy playing and watching, and my focus as Editor of the magazine has been on showing Deaf children and their parents that there are sporting opportunities out there.

But what are those opportunities and what can Deaf children aspire to achieve?

In the mainstream, hundreds and thousands of people make a living out of being good at sport. For some it is the route to considerable wealth, without which their lives would probably have been completely different. Looking back at history, few Deaf people have managed to get to this level and Deaf youngsters and their families today, could easily think that sporting excellence is unachievable.

In announcing its first two Deaf sporting ambassadors, SLFirst hopes to show that aiming to be an elite athlete in mainstream sport is both achievable and realistic, but achieving that elite status, starts with ambition, and that is where our sporting ambassadors come in to play. 

Our first sporting ambassadors are Tom Smith and Caleb McDuff, two Deaf sports people who compete in the mainstream and who are driven by ambition. Deaf they might be, but that does not stop them believing that anything is possible when it comes to their sporting achievements. We have written extensively about their sporting lives already, and in announcing them as our first two ambassadors, we will continue to give them the highest profile possible, spreading awareness of what young deaf people can do in the sporting world.

Tom (Smiffy) Smith is a highly accomplished cyclist, earning a place with Team GB as a youngster. Training and competing at the elite level, Tom has experienced the training set up that underpins elite performance. That exposure has served him well in respect of his achievements so far. Racing professionally in Belgium for a while he is now back in Britain looking to make his mark on the road racing scene this year. Blighted by injuries, his ambition has remained unblemished and we believe Deaf youngsters should be inspired by his ambition, work ethic and commitment to his sport.

Caleb McDuff is just seven, but his ambition to be the first Deaf Formula One Grand Prix driver marks him out as someone worth watching, and in our case, worth supporting. Becoming the youngest person join the UK to get a racing licence last year, Caleb is already in his second year of competition. His rate of improvement this year is standout and with the support of British Touring Car race team Wix Racing, we hope and expect to see further improvements as the year progresses. Securing second place in his latest Bambino race at the Llandow Kart Race circuit, Caleb has many of the frustrations that young Deaf children experience, but he does not let that dampen his enthusiasm or his world beating ambitions.

Having a role model is important for every Deaf youngster and whilst SLFirst is hugely supportive of the opportunities within Deaf sport and the Deaflympics, we would like to see far more being done to help Deaf children compete in the mainstream as well. Aims and ambitions do not need to be limited to reaching the pinnacle of Deaf sport, our sporting ambassadors and a handful of other sports stars prove that. Better pathways, increased awareness of opportunities, access to coaching excellence and inhibited ambition, can result in far more Deaf people reaching the elite level in mainstream sport.

Article by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

posted in Deaf Sport / Sport

27th May 2015