Basildon stroke victim Adam Fontain shows true grit to become Paralympian

Blood pressure check – Adam with nurse Gill Wilder

Blood pressure check – Adam with nurse Gill Wilder

First published in Echo News by

WHEN Adam Fontain suffered two strokes aged seven and eight, he felt like giving up on life.

The Basildon-born sports fan had made a full recovery from his first stroke, but when the second one hit, doctors didn’t expect him to survive. They also predicted he would never walk again.

Once a big football fan, after his seconf stroke he could no longer play the game he loved.

Never would he imagine he would one day be in Team GB for 10m rifle shooting.

Adam, of Whitmore Way, said: “When I came out of hospital I just thought that’s my life over.

It was only when I started going to a disabled swimming club that I found something to be passionate about. That was basically the start.”

Adam went on to compete successfully as a youngster with former disabled swimming club Basildon Dolphins. His desire to compete saw him win a bronze medal in an international tournament in Belgium in 2003.

But by the time he started Chalvedon School, now the Basildon Academies, Adam had lost his commitment to swimming, had given up hope and was spending his days eating junk food and playing computer games.

A boy from a few years above at school recognised Adam from swimming and told him there were plenty more sports on his doorstep available to him, at Basildon Disabled Sports Club.

The club, which meets at the Swan Mead Centre in Church Road, Basildon, offered Adam the chance to try javelin, discus, shot put and, what he would later compete in, table tennis and shooting.

He proved doctors wrong by learning to walk, with support after developing drop foot.

Adam’s left arm is constantly straight and his left hand stays in a fist unless a lot of force and concentration is used.

But that didn’t stand in the way of his ability to shoot.

At the suggestion of chairman Betty Jeffrey, who is chairman of Basildon Disabled Sports Club, Adam tried rifle shooting and discovered he was good at it.

Betty, herself a national disabled rifle shooter, encouraged him and he went on to train with Team GB at Stoke Mandeville in 2003 before joining the team in 2007.

Adam has competed in numerous national, international and world events, highlights including world cup golds, including equalling the world record with the maximum score of 600/600.

He said: “Sport has changed my life beyond anything you could ever imagine.

“Before I got into sport I had given up.”

But Adam’s biggest achievement was still yet to come. In 2012 he represented Team GB at the London Paralympics.

He said: “Even to this day I still can’t describe the feeling I had at the Paralympics. It was the best time of my life.

“I honestly didn’t have a clue the Paralympics would be as big as they were. I went into it not knowing anything.

“When I walked into that stadium for the opening ceremony that feeling – I will never have that again. It wasn’t so much a feeling of excitement, but of adrenaline. It pumped through my body. It was electric.”

Adam came 20th in his group out of more than 170 shooters.

The sport’s spotlight has encouraged swathes of disabled people coming to Stoke Mandeville and local clubs to try the discipline.

Adam added: “There’s definitely a legacy.

“It’s great. For me, sport gave me a new lease of life and I would never think of going back down that road of sitting at home doing nothing.

“That’s what winds me up with some disabled people who say they can’t do anything – they get a good old earfull from me. I tell them to look at me. When I was at the Paralympics I saw so many disabled people with one arm or leg, doing something like swimming and being the best in the world. If you want to do something bad enough you will find a way.”

Sport is not the only time you’ll find Adam talking passionately.

He lent his support to Basildon Concord Rotary Club’s annual Know Your Blood Pressure day at the Eastgate Centre earlier this month, to try and highlight to people the importance of getting high blood pressure sorted to avoid having a stroke.

He said: “People understand high blood pressure is bad, but I don’t think they are 100 per cent aware of what could potentially happen. Some think it leads to a heart attack but not necessarily a stroke.

“My two strokes weren’t down to high blood pressure, but I have had two and I wouldn’t want a third. If someone did say to me do you want your blood pressure checked I would say yes.

“If you are found to have high blood pressure go to your doctor to get something sorted. People really need to get it checked out.

It is better to be safe than sorry.”

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