Alexandra Rickham

Alexandra Rickham

Alex Rickham, 30, and her sailing partner, Niki Birrell are gold medal favourites for London 2012. But without Back Up, Alex might never have taken up sailing. She said:

"It was shortly after volunteering in the Back Up office that they received a call from Michael Cogswell who was looking for a female sailing partner. Back Up suggested me and we quickly started competing together."

Alex has an incomplete spinal cord injury at C5/C6 after being involved in a car accident when she was just 13. She first heard about Back Up while in rehab at Stoke Mandeville spinal unit. In addition to helping Alex discover sailing, she credits the charity with boosting her confidence after her accident and changing the perspectives of people around her. She explains:

"I had been very sporty before my accident and so I was really keen to go on one of Back Up’s rehabilitative skiing courses.

"It was the best thing I had done since my accident and I felt so much more confident afterwards. It also helped those around me see my disability in a different way. They realized that I could still do a lot of things, just in a different way."

Alex and Michal eventually went their separate ways and she has been competing with Nicky since 2007. The pair came fifth at Bejing in 2008 but after performing better in training are now hoping for medal success in September.

"It doesn’t get bigger than London 2012, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement but we are staying focused and training really hard."

Alex took time out of her packed training schedule to voice her support for Back Up’s services. She said:

"Back Up is a totally unique charity. They show people that you can still do so much with a spinal cord injury.

"It’s a shared experience and I like the fact that the courses are integrated – you go along with able bodied volunteers, and they get as much out of it as the participants do.

"Whenever I tell people about Back Up’s, they are totally amazed by what they do."

To find out when Alexandra's sailing and how she gets on follow this link.