Rio Paralympics 2016: Primary teacher Sue Gilroy misses table tennis podium

Sue Gilroy
Gilroy has Ehlers Danos, a degenerative muscle and ligament disease
Paralympic Games on the BBC
Venue: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Dates: 7-18 September Time in Rio: BST -4
Coverage: Live updates, video clips, medal table, results and news alerts, catch-up service, plus commentary on BBC Radio 5 live. Television coverage on Channel 4.

Sue Gilroy must have thought her table tennis career was over when, as a 15-year-old, she was forced to retire from the sport with a condition that causes her joints to dislocate dozens of times a day.

Gilroy has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a degenerative muscle and ligament disease, as well as fibromyalgia and chronic pain syndrome. Her right wrist had to be fused because of constant dislocations, and she has limited use of her right shoulder.

Is it hard to imagine, then, how the girl who dreamed of becoming a sportswoman would have felt when in her late teens she was told an operation to cure the dislocations in her knees had failed and she would spend the rest of her life using a wheelchair.

Gilroy was also told to leave university - completing a maths and biology degree in a wheelchair was deemed a hazard - seemingly ending her dreams of becoming a schoolteacher.

But by her early 20s she rediscovered that steely determination to make it as a sports star, and after toying with the idea of taking up archery or shooting, it was table tennis that caught Gilroy's eye. She was catching the eye too - that of a GB talent-spotter in fact, and with it the chance to realise her dreams.

On Monday, more than three decades since she began playing the sport, Gilroy is hoping to win her first Paralympic medal in five attempts. The 43-year-old faces Serbia's Nada Matic for the bronze medal Rio.

Gilroy is no stranger to success - she has two Commonwealth gold medals, was a European champion in 2005 and even won a continental silver while seven and half months pregnant in 2003 - but a podium place at the Paralympics has so far proved elusive.

It's not just through table tennis that Gilroy has been recognised either - her services to the sport and her efforts working with a number of charities have earned the ParalympicsGB stalwart an MBE, as well as an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University.

Oh, and if juggling all those honours isn't enough for the 21-time national champion, Gilroy now couples her successful wheelchair table tennis career with another one of her childhood aspirations.

It turns out the wheelchair wasn't a 'hazard' after all for this GB star, who is a full-time primary school teacher in her home town of Barnsley.

How did she do? Unfortunately, the wait for a Paralympic medal goes on for Sue Gilroy, who lost 3-2 in the bronze medal match despite leading Serbia's Nada Matic 2-0 at one stage.

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