Welsh cheerleader: 'Amputation was best decision I made'

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Carys PriceImage source, SCWALES
Image caption,
Carys opted for amputation after living with chronic pain

When Carys Price had her lower left leg amputated, she was not going to let it stop her following her passion.

Born with congenital talipes, known as 'club foot', she lived with almost constant pain.

So at the age of 16 she opted for an amputation and a prosthetic leg that would prove a new lease of life.

Now she is part of the Wales para-cheer team that will fly to Florida this weekend to compete at the World Cheerleading Championships.

Despite her disability, Carys, of Ynyshir, Rhondda Cynon Taff, took up cheerleading aged five and was immediately hooked.

"I was always on medication, which helped, but it was still very painful - but I never thought of giving up," she said.

"There were some really tough times but cheerleading always made me happy."

Image source, SCWALES
Image caption,
Team members have paid for themselves to compete in Orlando

After 49 operations, her condition was worsening and doctors agreed to Carys's request to amputate her leg below the knee in 2016.

Yet rather than being a traumatic experience, it "opened a whole new world".

"I was scared because I didn't know what would happen but overall I was so happy," she said.

"The relief of being pain-free was almost instant.

"There were so many things I hadn't been able to do, like going out with friends. But having the amputation was the best decision I ever made. It surprises people to hear that."

Carys, now 18 and studying childcare at Coleg y Cymoedd, remained determined to pursue the sport she loves and earned a place on the Wales para-cheer team.

The 20-strong team, made up of both disabled and non-disabled athletes, will take on competitors from around the world in Orlando on Wednesday.

"After my operation, I thought if I could do it with two legs, I'd find a way of doing it with one," said Carys.

"I managed to get back into it and I'm proud of how far I've come. Now I'm so excited to compete for Wales. It's a dream come true."

Image source, SCWALES
Image caption,
The 20-strong team includes members with various disabilities
Image source, Scwales
Image caption,
The para-team has previously won gold at the World Championships

The para-cheer team - aged between 14 and 27 - includes members with autism, visual impairment, brittle-bone disease and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) from across Wales.

They have a chance of success, having previously won gold and silver medals in the freestyle pom category.

Head coach Sabrina Mountjoy said: "It's wonderful that this team has the opportunity to compete at the world championships.

"We should celebrate the fact that in Wales we are able to select an inclusive team that compete against the likes of the United States.

"It's such a special moment for them to compete for Wales."

More than 100 athletes from Wales are competing in junior and senior events at the world championships.

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