Welsh Sports Personality of the Year 2012: Josie Pearson profile

Josie Pearson celebrates F51 discus gold at the 2012 Paralympics
Josie Pearson celebrates F51 discus gold at the 2012 Paralympics

Josie Pearson took her place on the world stage by winning a gold medal in the F51 discus category at the 2012 Paralympics in London.

The 26-year-old from Hay-on-Wye, Powys, broke the world record three times on her way to gold.

Her best throw of 6.58 metres was enough to hold off the challenge of the Republic of Ireland's Catherine O'Neill, who took silver, and Zena Cole of the United States in bronze.

"This is the culmination of so many years of hard work," Pearson said.

"Three world records from my first three throws! I knew I could do it - I consistently broke the world record in training - so I just knew I had to do my thing, relax, absorb the moment and not be phased by it.

"This is just absolutely amazing, it's going to take a lot to beat this. Competing in front of a home crowd and being Paralympic champion, that's never going to happen to me again."

Pearson was a keen horse rider as a teenager and had shown promise as a show jumper, but when she was 17 she suffered spinal injuries in a car crash in 2003 which killed her boyfriend, Daniel Evans.

But following her accident, the Bristol-born athlete took up wheelchair rugby in 2005 and was selected for the Beijing Games four years ago.

She was the first woman to represent ParalympicsGB at the sport - which sees both sexes play in the same side and has been dubbed 'murderball' for its ferocity - although the team had to settle for fourth.

Pearson than opted to switch her focus to athletics in 2009, competing in wheelchair racing in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

She finished fifth in both the T52 100m and 800m at the 2011 Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.

But she really found her forté after taking up the discus, a move that saw her crowned Paralympic champion at London 2012.

"I loved wheelchair rugby, but team sport just wasn't for me," Pearson added. "I wanted to get back to an individual side of stuff and everything has paid off.

"I was inspired by watching the [2004] Games in Athens after my accident and that inspired me to get into sport, then when we heard it was coming to London that inspired me even more.

"To compete in front of a home crowd with everyone behind me has been absolutely amazing. I'm never ever going to forget this feeling in my life."

Voting lines for BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2012 will open from 08:00 GMT on 3 December and close at 18:00 GMT on Saturday, 8 December.

Full voting terms and conditions will be available on the BBC website and will also be carried on radio and television.

The winner will be unveiled on the evening of Monday, 10 December and there is an awards ceremony that evening at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

This event is not connected with the UK Sports Personality of the Year and is for the Wales award only.

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