Britain’s current and former elite athletes have named para-athlete Ali Smith as their Athlete of the Month for May after she persevered through a long period of medical complications to reach two World Championships finals.

Ali competed in the T38 100m final and claimed silver with the universal relay team in Kobe, Japan, despite having feared her career could be over during the previous 12 months.

The year before, at the World Championships in Paris, Ali was hospitalised for several nights by an MS (multiple sclerosis) relapse. Since then she has endured further relapses and was only able to return to full training in November 2023.

Saying she’s suffered a form of PTSD after experiencing the worst symptoms of her condition since being diagnosed in 2015, Ali was named co-captain by her teammates in Kobe and said the competition gave her a “confidence boost”.

Elaborating in an interview with the BEAA, Ali added:

“I went to a championships, flew all that way and coped with the stress of travel, and as the comp went on I got better and better. I had a lot more self belief coming out of it from the 400m. My 100m didn’t go so well but in the relay I ran well and thought: ‘This is good. We’ve worked through a champs and I feel really good coming out of it and motivated to get back.’

“As team captain in Kobe, the team was so successful and all had Paralympic medals and world records. I felt very weird leading a team with so much experience. But I thought I could bring something they couldn’t and say – and it sounds a bit depressing – you don’t know when your last moment is.

“You could be top of the world right now but something happens that’s out of your control and that’ll take you back and maybe going out of the sport. My advice to someone going through what I’m going through would be to appreciate every moment and don’t sweat the small things. Be organised so you’re not stressed and have fun. This is why a lot of us got into the sport in the first place.

“I’m really, really proud and I can’t believe I’ve come back from it. I’m excited for the future and unbelievably grateful to my teammates. It gives me a boost and I feel like they’ve all got my back. We’re in an individual sport but I feel like, as a team, they’ve really got my back and they’re helping me. I really appreciate it.”

Ali’s achievement topped a poll among current and former elite British athletes to decide who on the World Class Programme deserved most recognition for their successes last month.

She was shortlisted alongside Amber Anning (athletics), Charlotte Henshaw (para-canoe) and Jess Varley (modern pentathlon).

The Athletes’ Athlete of the Month award is given to elite British sportspeople on behalf of World Class Programme athletes by the BEAA for their achievements in competition or elsewhere, such as personal development, inspiring comebacks, charity work, awareness raising and more.

It celebrates successes across elite British sport, and commends more than just competitive accomplishment – with every winner decided by the athlete community.

Huge congratulations to Ali for winning, and to Amber, Charlotte and Jess for being nominated. Elite athletes past and present, to cast your vote next time, get involved via your emails or our alumni community!

Ali Smith voted Athlete of the Month for World Champs after turbulent year

Para-athlete Ali Smith overcame months worth of complications to compete in Kobe.
June 10, 2024
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