CBCF supports Lizzie Williams
This year, the Carpenter Box Charitable Foundation is supporting inspiring British athlete Lizzie Williams. To find out more about Lizzie, see our interview with her below.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started with racing.
Hi there! I’m a queer-disabled-Worthing raised-British Athlete! I have grown up participating in every sport you could possibly think of.
For someone with my disability, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (aka ‘Brittle Bones’), the idea of getting so heavily involved in sport was something incredibly risky, but it could also be incredibly beneficial in making me stronger. Thankfully, it was the latter, and my strength grew and grew.
It was in 2015 when I was volunteering at a youth disability sport event, when I met a young guy who told me that he trained locally as a wheelchair racer and asked whether I would like to come down to the track and try it out. I had been going through a difficult period at the time, so I saw this as an opportunity, and later that week I went down to the track to give it a go. And then I guess you could say the rest was history!
I think what I love about it is that you can only go as fast as you can go, so there’s always this desire to train more to become faster. And even just going 0.01 faster on a personal best gives me such an incredible feeling. I love being able to look at the numbers, seeing where I was when I started, where I am now, and where I have to go to be a contender at a world championship! I am slowly but surely closing the gap.
What was your training schedule like pre-COVID-19?
Before COVID-19, I was spending half the week in London with my training group, getting in training sessions with them and under supervision of our excellent coach, Chris Parsloe. When I come back home my training continues, but just in Worthing. I use the track at Worthing Leisure Centre, I’ll use the promenade, I swim, and I’ll go to the gym.
This year had actually started amazingly, as I had completed a full winter training (in the past I’ve been interrupted by injuries), and then at the end of January my training group went to Spain for a training camp. It was hardcore, but I really felt that after the winter training and the training camp, I was pushing the fastest I have ever pushed.
How has COVID-19 impacted your training?
When COVID-19 started to show, our coach made the call to disband training together quite early on. And since then, we are all training from home using rollers which you can set the back wheels on to push without going anywhere, just like cyclists can do too. Roller training is obviously different to training on the track or road, because there are technical and tactical elements of pushing and the technique of it that you can’t really do when you’re on rollers.
I suppose it’s hard to really say how it has impacted my training to be honest, because I am still training 6 days a week, and I’ve been able to get creative with the equipment I have at home to still complete other elements of my training programme such as strength and conditioning.
How has COVID-19 impacted your competitions?
COVID-19 has massively impacted this year’s competitions. We would normally have our first track competition around May although there was a meet planned for April this year. So we have missed out on a big chunk of the season so far. I don’t think we will have the chance to race abroad this year, but it is still possible that we could compete in the UK. It’s all just a matter of waiting to see how things develop.
What are your goals for the next 12-18 months? Have they changed over the past few months?
Due to COVID-19, major championships such as European Championships and Paralympic Games have been moved to next year 2021. So I have more time to qualify for these competitions.
My main focus will be to make selection for European Championships in Poland, and to achieve qualifying times for the Paralympics, although I don’t expect to be selected for Tokyo. But now I have another year to work hard, and I’m excited to continue developing into a great athlete and seeing where it takes me.
How has the support CBCF provided helped you on your path?
CBCF has been a game changer for me. I have never had a long term sponsor before, and up until I met the guys at Carpenter Box I had struggled to raise funds to keep me going in this sport. It’s a pricey sport due to the custom equipment we have, and until my world ranking gets closer to that top 12 bunch, I have to continue to find funds on my own.
Now that I have the support of CBCF it’s really taken some of the pressure off me, knowing that every month there is a pot of money there that I can reach in to get petrol to travel to training in London, maintain equipment etc. My training camp to Spain in January wouldn’t have been possible without CBCF, and in fact it’s the first time I went on this trip in the 3 years my training group have been going.
I’m so thankful for their support, and I hope sometime soon when we can race again I can show them how much of a difference it has made to my performance.
What else do you do in the community?
I love doing things within the community! One thing that I’ve been missing is going into schools. I’ve worked with probably 50 odd schools across West Sussex over the last couple of years, sharing my story, showing them disability sport, and supporting specific campaigns and sports days, etc.
I love being able to go into schools and work with kids as a disabled person because it’s at this young age they develop perceptions around those with differences such as disabilities. I want to show them that although I have a disability and use a wheelchair, they don’t have to be scared or anxious around me, and they can ask me anything they are curious to know the answer to. I also love to show them how adaptable life can be.
I’ve also got a number of interviews and podcasts I’ve been working on that are always fun to get involved with, and always important conversations to be had.
Do you have any other exciting news or updates you want to mention?
Just this week I have been notified that I have been nominated for the Positive Role Model (Disability) Award at the National Diversity Awards! It’s such an incredible honour, and I’m just feeling very proud knowing that somebody out there felt I was worthy of this award and nominated me.
The whole team at MHA Carpenter Box wish Lizzie the best of luck with her training!
If you want to find out more about Lizzie, or get in touch with her on social media, you can find her: