Saturday 20 January 2018

Sophie the real shining star at Galgorm Castle

Karl MacGinty

Usually at sports events we're inspired by the performers in the field.

It was different at last week's Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, where those of us in the media room were privileged to meet Sophie, a young woman from Leeds.

The 19-year-old daughter of a European Tour official, she was giving staff a hand with internet blogs and tweets while her boyfriend, Tom, played in the Challenge Tour event.

Did I mention that Sophie's in a wheelchair since being paralysed in a motor accident while visiting relatives in the United States a couple of years ago?

If I didn't it's because her personality and positive nature made it seem insignificant. She's discovered basketball since the accident and has become so competitive, she's been added to the Great Britain Squad already preparing for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio ... indeed, Sophie takes up a sports scholarship at Worcestershire University in the coming weeks.

Explaining how she and Tom met, she said:

"He asked me to go out with him but since I was about to go to the States, I told him I'd see him when I got back. Then I had the accident over there and when he came to visit me in hospital, I thought to myself, 'hmm, he must be keen'." Then, without the faintest hint of self-pity, she added: "It was nice to know a boy would be interested in me after the accident."

A few days in this remarkable young sportswoman's company, made the few frustrated, tantrum-throwing, club-thumping, hard-cussing golfers we came across on the golf course appear very foolish indeed.

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